LEXINGTON, Kentucky – The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced the 37th annual AVCA All-America teams for NCAA Division III women's volleyball on Tuesday. The awards will be presented Nov. 15 at the NCAA Division III Women's National Championship banquet in Grand Rapids, MI, at Calvin College where the 2017 AVCA Division III Player of the Year will be announced.
Wittenberg junior setter Karen Wildemann earned AVCA First-Team All-America honors after putting together an impressive junior campaign. Wildemann was most recently named the Most Valuable Player of the Great Lakes Regional last weekend after the Tigers ran through match-play to earn a spot in the Elite 8 on November 16.
"Karen has worked very hard to achieve this honor. She is a very driven competitor and natural leader. As a 4.0 student, she has found a way to strike the perfect balance of commitment to her team, and excellence in the classroom. I couldn't be prouder of Karen," said head coach Paco Labrador.
The Columbus, Indiana native put together a junior campaign that featured 899 assists (9.8 per-set), 215 digs (2.36 per-set), and 121 total kills. The setter also recorded 332 service aces for the Tigers, on her way to a first-team All-North Coast Athletic Conference selection. Wildemann also recorded two triple-doubles in 2017, her first against then #3 Emory with 11 kills, 41 assists, and 10 digs. The feat was then completed again by the junior against NCAC foe Denison, after Wildemann put together a match of 10 kills, 47 assists, and 12 digs.
Wildemann helped lead the Tigers to a 20-0 start to the season, and a number one overall ranking in the AVCA Top-25 Coaches' Poll from mid-September until the end of October. The Tigers also tout an unblemished 8-0 record in NCAC play for the seventh consecutive season, and Wildemann was also named to the AVCA's Great Lakes All-Region First Team upon her stellar play in 2017.
The Tigers ran away with the 2017 Great Lakes Regional at Otterbein University, downing Penn State Behrend (3-0), #19 Juniata (3-1), and #20 Ohio Northern (3-0). As the region's MVP, Wildemann led the Tigers to their eighth regional championship in program history after putting together a weekend that included 13 kills, 13 digs, and 94 assists.
Wildemann now becomes the eighth AVCA First Team All-America selection under Labrador's guidance, and the 31st All-America selection overall. The Tigers have had at least one All-America selection in every season since 2002. Wildemann joins Maddie Fischer and Aubrey Cox as current Tigers that have earned All-America honors from the AVCA.
After earning AVCA All-America First Team Honors in 2016, Fischer was named 2017 AVCA All-America Honorable Mention. Fischer has recorded 323 kills, and 289 digs in 2017, as the outside-hitter's surpassed the 800-kill threshold in her career over the weekend in regional play. A Minerva, Ohio native, Fischer recorded matches of 18, 19 and 21 kills in 2017 as the Tiger's lone senior.
Fischer, who was named to the Great Lakes Region All-Tournament team last weekend, also became the 13th different player in Wittenberg history to earn the NCAC's Player of the Year honor earlier in the year. The Tiger's outside-hitter has led the Tigers to four NCAC conference titles, four NCAA tournament appearances and two NCAA Regional Championships. Fischer's storied career for the Tigers continues at the 2017 Elite Eight.
#1 Wittenberg will face #8 Swarthmore at 5:30PM on November 16 to open Elite Eight play from Van Noord Arena on the campus of Calvin College. Wittenberg and Swarthmore will battle for the right to play the winner of the 8:00PM #4 Johnson & Wales and #5 Calvin match. The two quarterfinal winners will meet on November 17 at 7:30PM in the semifinals, with the winner advancing to the national championship match. On the other side of the bracket, #2 Emory takes on #7 Ithaca at 12:30PM and #3 Claremont M-S takes on #6 Gust. Adolphus at 3:00PM.
The AVCA, with its headquarters in Lexington, KY, is managed by Associations International. The mission of the AVCA is to advance the sport of volleyball with AVCA coaches at the epicenter of leadership, advocacy and professional development. With a membership of over 7,000 and counting, the AVCA provides a professional network for those individuals and companies dedicated to enhancing and promoting the sport. Members include collegiate, high school, club, youth and Olympic coaches, as well as volleyball club directors. The AVCA provides education to volleyball coaches, recognition of elite players and coaches, promotion of volleyball competitions throughout the world, and networking opportunities for volleyball products and services providers. Further information is available at www.avca.org.