Molenhouse and Tatum earn MEC All-Conference volleyball honors

Autumn Molenhouse

BRIDGEPORT ­— The Mountain East Conference today announced its top honors and all-conference teams for the Spring 2021 season as Fairmont State's Julia DiPaoloa and West Virginia State's Jenna Dufresne earned Player of the Year accolades, Wheeling's Audrey Francis was tabbed as the Libero of the Year and teammate Karly Niesen was selected as the Freshman of the Year. Additionally, Fairmont State head coach Courtney Materazzi was recognized as the Coach of the Year.

DiPaoloa, a junior from Stow, Ohio, ranked among the conference leaders in three different categories this season as an outside hitter. She was fifth in the league in kills per set (3.70), 12th in hitting percentage (.276) and 16th in digs per set (3.23). The two-time MEC Player of the Week also had four double-double matches (kills/digs), and her 24 kills against Notre Dame were second-most in the league this season.

Dufresne, a junior from Bendford, Ind., was the only player in the conference to average over five kills per set at 5.02, and also hit over .300 for the season at .316.

Dufresne had at least 13 kills in every match this season, and her 29 kills against Concord were the most in the conference this year. She also averaged 1.95 digs and 0.37 blocks per set for the Yellow Jackets.

Francis, a junior from Sidney, Ohio, is the MEC Libero of the Year for the fourth-straight time in her career. The MEC's all-time leader in digs, she piled up 337 in 13 matches this year. Her 7.03 digs per set led the MEC and were second in the country this spring.

She had the highest-single game total for digs (43), and the highest single-game total for digs in a three-set match (30). Francis had 10 games of 20 digs or more for the Cardinals.

Niesen, a setter from Cincinnati, Ohio, stepped in to direct Wheeling's offense in her first season for the Cards to earn Freshman of the Year honors. She led all players in assists per set with 12.57, an average that ranked best in the country.

She helped Wheeling hit .244 on the year -- second best in the conference in 2021.

Materazzi is the MEC Coach of the Year for the first time in her career.

She helped lead Fairmont State to a 10-3 record this spring and a share of the North Division title. During the season, Fairmont State snapped Wheeling's NCAA-record for consecutive conference wins at 219, which helped the Falcons earn the No. 1 seed in the North Division for the MEC Tournament.

She guided Fairmont State to the MEC Tournament championship match for the fifth time during her tenure and finished runner-up.

In addition to the individual awards, the MEC also released its all-conference teams.

West Virginia State had three honorees, while Davis & Elkins, Fairmont State and Wheeling each had two. West Liberty had the other first team honoree.

West Virginia Wesleyan had two representatives on the team.

Autumn Molenhouse was named to the All-Second Team and the All-Freshman Team while Lexis Tatum was also named to the All-Freshman Team.

West Virginia Wesleyan finished the year 6-5 under head coach Nancy Wheeler.

The All-MEC teams are selected by a vote of the league's coaches.

THE SPRING 2021 ALL MEC VOLLEYBALL TEAM

All-MEC First Team

Pos. Name School Cl.

OH Kayla Bekier Wheeling Jr. OH Gabrielle Bullock W.Va. State Jr.

MB Madison Clayton West Liberty Sr.

OH Julia DiPaola Fairmont State Jr.

OH Jenna Dufresne W.Va. State Jr.

L Audrey Francis Wheeling Sr.

S Lily Keber Fairmont State Jr.

OH/RS Macie Magallon Davis & Elkins Jr.

S Brilane Machengo Davis & Elkins Jr.

MB Gabrielle Thompson W.Va. State Jr.

All-MEC Second Team

Pos. Name School Cl.

OH Sarah DeGeorge Notre Dame So.

OH/RS Molly Jandris Davis & Elkins So.

MB Skylar Mace Glenville State Jr.

OH Ashlyn McDonald Alderson Broaddus Sr.

L Autumn Molenhouse W.Va. Wesleyan Fr.

S Karly Niesen Wheeling Fr.

L Nyia Setla West Liberty Fr.

OH Lexis Tatum W.Va. Wesleyan Fr.

MB Taylor Wisniewski Fairmont State Sr.

All-MEC Honorable Mention

L: Bryce Knapp (Fairmont State)

S: Peri Martin (W.Va. State)

MB: Beyonce Andrews (Charleston), McKenzie Carpenter (Charleston)

OH: Beverly Braun (Frostburg State), Keara Lewis (Fairmont State), Grace Martin (W.Va. State), Karlei Shaver (Glenville State)

OH/RS: Lexi Reinert (Wheeling), Emily Reedy (West Liberty)

MEC All-Freshman Team

Pos. Name School Cl.

OH Beverly Braun Frostburg State Fr.

S Peri Martin W.Va. State Fr.

L Autumn Molenhouse W.Va. Wesleyan Fr.

S Karly Niesen Wheeling Fr.

L Nyia Setla West Liberty Fr.

OH Lexis Tatum W.Va. Wesleyan Fr.

Player of the Year: Julia DiPaoloa (Fairmont State)/Jenna Dufresne (W.Va. State)

Libero of the Year: Audrey Francis (Wheeling)

Freshman of the Year: Karly Niesen (Wheeling)

Coach of the Year: Courtney Materazzi (Fairmont State)

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