SAINT LEO, Fla. – That volleyball trophy case is getting awfully full.

Even after the 2008 season came to a close in the Regional Semifinals last week, the Saint Leo University volleyball team learned today that Michelle Nogueras, Kaitlin McKenna and Danielle Bletso had been named to the 2008 American Volleyball Coaches Association All-South Region Team.  Nogueras and McKenna earned a spot on the team while Bletso was named the South Region’s Freshman of the Year.

Bletso marks Head Coach Sam Cibrone’s third-straight regional freshman award.  In her first season, the middle blocker has played a key role on a Saint Leo front line that ranked third in all of Division II with an average of 2.47 blocks per set.  She ranked second in the conference with an average of 0.95 blocks per set.  She also ranked second with a .376 hitting percentage.  A native of Boardman, Ohio, Bletso averaged 1.93 kills per frame and was also named the Sunshine State Conference’s Freshman of the Year.

McKenna, last year’s NCAA statistical hitting percentage champion, is again vying for that title as she stands sixth in the nation in attack accuracy at .401.  Earning the SSC Player of the Week in early September she averaged 2.59 kills per game and had a team-leading 142 blocks, 29 coming as solo blocks, which is second in the SSC.  The native of Farmington Hills, Michigan, McKenna has always managed to post the big kill when the Lions needed her to contribute the most.  Her powerful arm took nearly 750 swings this season and dropped down 388 kills.

Nogueras was not only named the Conference’s Player of the Week, but also earned National Player of the Week honors in late September.  The 5’8” setter from Cayey, Puerto Rico can seemingly do everything for the Lions as she finished the season with 1,359 set assists and still managed a .343 attack percentage, using that quick dump-attack everyone has become accustom to seeing on the Bowman Center floor.  Completing her trio of threats, Nogueras also added 73 blocks and 45 aces to the stat sheet this year.  This marks the second year that the junior has earned All-Region honors.

All three repeat nearly the same honors that they received in the Sunshine State Conference and all three will return to the Lions’ lineup next season.


All-South Region Team
Emily Carle, Nova Southeastern University, MB, Sr.
Danielle Durham, Florida Southern College, OH, Sr.
Madeline Gonzalez, University of West Florida, S, Sr.
Jessica Hansen, University of North Alabama, DS/Lib., Sr.
Danielle Higginbotham, Florida Southern College, MB, Sr.
Camila Lins, Lynn University, OH, Sr.
Danielle McDonald, University of Tampa, RS/Opp., Sr.
Kaitlin McKenna, Saint Leo University, MB, So.
Michelle Nogueras**, Saint Leo University, S, Jr.
Camilla Pagnan**, Barry University, OH, Sr.
Valia Petrova, Nova Southeastern University, S, Sr.
Luciana Rapach**, University of West Florida, RS/Opp., Sr.
Whitney Sanders, University of North Alabama, MB, Sr.
Melissa Vanderhall, University of Tampa, OH, So.
Region Freshman of the Year: Dannielle Bletso, Saint Leo, MB

Honorable Mention:  Lydee Benoit (Eckerd College, OH, Jr.), Julia Borecka (Florida Southern, RS/Opp., Jr.), Patricia Gondolfo (West Florida, MB, Jr.), Manuela Nesheva (Harding University, OH, Jr.), Ana Gabriela Pedrosa (West Alabama, OH, Jr.), Daris Rodriguez (Lynn, MB, Sr.), Sarah Von Lienen (Arkansas Tech, MB, So.), Bethany Wright (Henderson State, DS/Lib, Jr.)   

* Denotes total number of years selected to AVCA All-Region Team