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Montana State volleyball program earns USMC/AVCA team academic award

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Posted at 10:35 AM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 12:35:15-04

(Editor's note: Montana State athletics release)

BOZEMAN -- After having its best season on the court under the direction of fourth-year head coach Daniel Jones, the Montana State volleyball squad proved its prowess in the classroom, as well.

The Bobcats were named a United State Marine Corps (USMC) and American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic award winner for the 2019-2020 season, after posting a 3.48 team grade-point average.

It marked the sixth time in program history that the Bobcats have been honored for work in the classroom. MSU also won the award in 2002, 2003, 2010, 2012 and 2019. The AVCA started recognizing team academic excellence during the 1992-93 season.

“To receive such a prestigious honor as the USMC/AVCA Team Academic Award is a reflection on the hard-working young women in our volleyball program,” Jones said. “We have worked hard to recruit outstanding student-athletes, not just athletes, and this is reflected in this recognition. Our goal each year is to post a team GPA of 3.30 or better, to come in where we did in 2019-20 was so exciting.

“The best thing for me was seeing all 15 members of the team individually posting a 3.0 or better with three student-athletes achieving a perfect 4.0,” Jones continued. “These are the moments we can sit back and see our progress while celebrating with our athletes. There is a huge sense of momentum in the program on the court and in the classroom; this is a program and team that everyone should support.”

The award honors volleyball teams that maintain a year-long grade-point average of 3.30 on a 4.0 scale or 4.10 on a 5.0 scale. In all three NCAA women’s divisions, over 50 percent of the membership won the award, led by 68 percent in D-I, 57 percent in D-II and 53 percent in D-III.

Big Sky Conference teams earning the recognition were MSU, Eastern Washington, Idaho, Idaho State, Northern Colorado, Sacramento State and Weber State.

“Coaches have the most influence during difficult times,” said AVCA executive director Kathy DeBoer. “Keeping student-athletes focused on their academic success when their volleyball identity was suddenly gone is leadership worth celebrating.”

Last fall, nine Bobcats earned all-Big Sky Conference academic kudos, including Libby Christensen, Sydney Mathison, Hailey Merkes, Emma Pence, Allyssa Rizzo, Hannah Scott, Kira Thomsen, Kelsie White and Evi Wilson.