Press Release courtesy of MVC
Missouri Valley Conference regular season champion Missouri State has claimed two of the league’s top individual honors, as senior outside hitter Lily Johnson earned the league’s Player of the Year honor for the third-straight season, while her Bear teammate, junior Emily Butters has been named the Libero of the Year. Illinois State freshman setter Stef Jankiewicz took home the league’s Freshman of the Year honors, while UNI’s Heather Hook earned the conference’s Setter of the Year award. Johnson, Butters, Jankiewicz and Hook headline a list of 20 student-athletes named to the 2017 MVC All-Conference teams, selected by the coaches, and announced by the league office Thursday. The all-conference teams were recognized at an awards reception today in Normal, Illinois.
Valley regular-season champion Missouri State, along with UNI, Illinois State, Drake, Indiana State and Valparaiso, the league’s top six finishers, combined to place 16 athletes on the first and second team all-conference squads. The Bears placed five players on the first and second teams, UNI earned four first-team honors, Illinois State placed three players on the list, Drake and Southern Illinois added a pair of honorees, while Indiana State, Valparaiso, Bradley and Evansville each had one selection.
Johnson is the third player in MVC history to win three conference Player of the Year honors and is a four-time All-MVC first-team selection. The senior outside hitter from Wildwood, Mo., is the first player in league history to lead the conference in kills four times, and averages 4.55 kills, 5.14 points, 3.93 digs, 0.32 aces and 0.42 blocks per set with a .255 hitting percentage. A six-time MVC Player of the Week in 2017, Johnson is one of 10 players in NCAA history with at least 2,200 kills and 1,500 digs in a career, and ranks eighth in NCAA history with 510 consecutive sets played. The senior standout owns MVC records with 2,256 career kills and 6,489 attacks. She also tallied 26 matches with at least 10 kills and 22 double-doubles this year, with four matches of at least 20 kills and 20 digs, an MSU single-season record.
Hook leads the league with 11.68 assists per set, dishing out 1,366 total assists this season, which currently ranks ninth in the nation in assists per set. She has three of the top four assist totals in The Valley this season, topping 60 assists three times (at Missouri, vs. Valpo and vs. Kentucky). Hook is the first Panther to win the league’s Setter of the Year award.
Butters is one of the league’s most reliable back row players, tallying double-digit digs in all but one match this season, and topping the 20-dig mark 22 times. Butters had 44 digs on Oct. 13 at Drake, the second-highest total in Missouri State and fifth-best in Valley history. She ranks fourth nationally with 690 total digs and ninth at 5.85 digs per set, both Missouri State single season records. A four-time MVC Defensive Player of the Week in 2017, Butters averaged 6.25 digs per set with a .980 service reception percentage in MVC matches. Butters is the first MSU player to win the league’s Libero of the Year honor.
Jankiewicz ranks second in the MVC in assists and assists per set this season. The freshman also ranks 13th nationally in total assists and sits third among freshman setters. She posted 16 double-doubles and topped 50 assists on nine occasions. She is Illinois State’s seventh MVC Freshman of the Year.
Missouri State’s Melissa Stokes picks up her third MVC Coach of the Year honor after guiding the Bears to their fifth regular season MVC title. The Bears posted a perfect 18-0 league record, becoming the 11th team in league history to accomplish a perfect conference schedule, and sit No. 25 nationally. MSU’s 26 wins so far in 2017 equal the 2016 club for the program’s highest total since 2007.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Lily Johnson, Missouri State
LIBERO OF THE YEAR: Emily Butters, Missouri State
SETTER OF THE YEAR: Heather Hook, UNI
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Stef Jankiewicz, Illinois State
COACH OF THE YEAR: Melissa Stokes, Missouri State