MEDFORD – Six members of the Tufts University volleyball team received American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Northeast Region awards for the 201 season announced today, including Player of the Year Maddie Stewart and Coach of the Year Cora Thompson.
Stewart, a senior right-side hitter who was also named to the All-Northeast team, is Tufts' first AVCA Regional Player of the Year. Senior outside hitter Brigid Bell, sophomore outside hitter Cate Desler and senior middle blocker Christina Nwankpa also earned AVCA All-Northeast status. Senior setter Rachel Furash was given All-Region honorable mention recognition.
The five players honored and four first-team selections are the most-ever for Tufts on the All-Region squads. The Jumbos' four first-teamers are two more than any other team in the region, as are their five total players honored.
Tufts is 27-1 overall and ranked 13th in the AVCA Division III poll. After finishing 10-0 in the league to earn the #1 seed for the conference tournament, the Jumbos then captured their first New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship since 1996. They were selected as an NCAA Tournament Regional host for this weekend.
A second-year captain for the Jumbos, Stewart is averaging 2.85 kills per set while hitting at a .383 clip through 28 matches this fall. She opened the year with 18 kills against Emerson and hasn't slowed down. She had 21 kills in five sets versus Babson on October 19 and then 16 including the conference-championship clinching point against Bowdoin last Sunday. She also averages 0.67 blocks per set.
Bell has been Tufts' best two-way player this fall with 2.31 kills per set to go with 2.98 digs digs per set. She's also served 33 aces. Desler has similar productivity with 2.76 kills and 2.38 digs per contest and 25 aces. Nwankpa is as efficient as Stewart with her hitting, notching a .383 percentage on 2.31 kills per set. She's also intimidating at the net with 0.92 blocks per set. Furash is the engine of the Jumbo offense with 7.02 assists per set and 36 aces while also making a serious contribution defensively (1.72 digs average).
Thompson, who received NESCAC Coach of the Year for the seventh time earlier this week, is now a three-time AVCA Regional Coach of the Year. She won the honor in back-to-back seasons for 2016 and 2017.