Seidenstricker Leads All-Americans As Freshman Of The Year

File Photo | Erin Pence

Kara Seidenstricker celebrates with her teammates after another winning point during the 2012 season. She swept a series of Freshman of the Year awards, including league, region and All-America.

File Photo | Erin Pence

Springfield, Ohio – For the second year in a row, Wittenberg University placed three volleyball standouts on the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America honor roll, with Kara Seidenstricker (London, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) breaking new ground as the first freshman in Wittenberg volleyball history to earn first-team All-America and National Freshman of the Year honors.

Senior libero Christina Gilene (Milford, Ohio/McNicholas) also earned All-America honors, making the second team, up from the third team in 2011. In addition, junior middle hitter Andrea Behling (Columbus, Ind./North) capped her breakout 2012 season with placement on the honorable mention.

Seidenstricker, a freshman right-side hitter, led the Tigers with 367 kills and 36 service aces in 2012, in addition to 347 digs, good for third on the team. Seidenstricker was charged with just 21 reception errors in 566 attempts, and she ranked third on the team with 66 blocks.

Seidenstricker was previously named first-team All-North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) and the league's 2012 Newcomer and Player of the Year, as well as first-team All-Great Lakes Region and Regional Freshman of the Year. She is just the third Wittenberg player to earn the regional honor, following in the footsteps of Brittany Baume in 1999 and Monica McDonald in 2001.

"Kara has put up exceptional numbers all season, but what impressed me most was her ability to handle being the 'target' all season," said Head Coach Paco Labrador. "In the first few weeks, teams served her nearly every ball, looking for her to crack. She didn't.

"Later in the season, teams overloaded their block and defense to slow her down, but she adapted her game and still found ways to score. Her volleyball IQ and maturity is incredible. I can't wait to continue her training this spring."

Gilene earned honorable mention all-region in 2010 and first-team all-region in 2011 to go along with her All-America accolades the last two seasons. Gilene, the 2011 NCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player and a member of the all-tournament team in 2012, led the Tigers with 651 digs while committing just 22 reception errors in 700 attempts.

Gilene, who ranks fourth in Wittenberg history with 2,235 career digs, was the NCAC Libero of the Year in both 2011 and 2012. She even finished the season ranked fourth on the team with 107 assists.

"Gilene's abilities were the key to our success this season," Labrador said. "Time and time again, we relied on her to make every single routine play, and more often than not, she made all the unbelievable plays, too. When our block was struggling, she picked them up with her defense. When our hitters were struggling, she covered blocks and kept plays alive. When our setters were struggling, she passed even more accurately.

"She exemplifies all the reasons why volleyball introduced the libero position in 1998."

Behling topped the Tigers in blocks with 78, while ranking second in service aces with 23 and third in kills with 305. Her attack percentage of .322 led the team and ranked among the best in the NCAC. She earned honorable mention All-NCAC honors before picking up NCAC Tournament MVP for her outstanding play in 3-0 sweeps of Oberlin, Wooster and DePauw.

The Tigers, who captured the 2011 NCAA Division III National Championship, finished the 2012 season with records of 27-5 overall and a perfect 8-0 in the conference after winning their 18th NCAC regular season and tournament championships. Wittenberg, ranked second in the final national poll, earned its 17th straight NCAA Division III Tournament bid (18th overall), reaching the regional final before losing an epic 3-2 decision against No. 1-ranked Calvin on the Knights' home court on Nov. 10.

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