Leslie Cikra and DeeDee Harrison
Dec. 6, 2011
By Todd Mounce, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - After leading the University of Tennessee volleyball team to a 28-4 record, its first outright Southeastern Conference championship and fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, juniors Leslie Cikra and DeeDee Harrison, sophomore Kelsey Robinson and freshman Mary Pollmiller were honored with All-South Region accolades by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
"I'm excited for the recognition that our players have received, being named to the All-South Region Team," Lady Vol head volleyball coach Rob Patrick said. "The outstanding play that Leslie, Kelsey, DeeDee and Mary provided on a consistent basis helped us have one of our most successful seasons in my tenure at Tennessee."
Tuesday marked the first AVCA honors for all four, while Pollmiller became the second Lady Vol ever to be selected as the Region Freshman of the Year, joining Yuliya Stoyanova, who picked up the accolade in 2004.
Pollmiller was also one of just three freshmen to be named First-Team All Region, as 112 student-athletes were bestowed the honor. As a team, only UT and Southern Cal had four members earn All-Region status.
"Mary was a very special addition to our team this year and was able to provide the team a consistent leader and a focal point for running our offense," Patrick said. "With the great hitters around her, she was able to make great decisions, which allowed both our team and individuals to be successful. I'm very happy for Mary to receive the recognition she so richly deserves after such a successful opening season to her career."
The reigning 2011 SEC Player of the Year, Robinson was an integral part of program's first outright SEC title, as the squad's 19-1 mark against the league was the best in school history. Also an All-SEC First Team selection and team captain, the Bartlett, Ill., native was tabbed the conference's Player of the Week a league-best four times.
Finishing the year with an SEC-best 21 double-doubles, she also led the conference in both kills (4.57) and points (5.19), ranking 15th and 10th nationally in those categories, respectively. The 6-2 outside hitter is one of three Lady Vols to play in all 115 sets, starting all 30 matches during the regular season.
Robinson accounted for 33% of UT's attempts, which is more than double the next closest Lady Vol, while also tallying 12 matches with 20 or more kills. Named the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week on Oct. 11 after combining for 35 kills and 33 digs in wins over Ole Miss and Alabama, Robinson also ranked second in the SEC in aces (0.37) and second on the squad in digs (3.17).
Tabbed the 2011 SEC Freshman of the Year, Pollmiller was named to the All-SEC Second Team and SEC All-Freshman Team. The setter topped the league and ranked fourth in the nation with 12.03 assists per set (1,384). Her assist average also led all NCAA freshmen, as she started every match while guiding a potent Lady Vol attack.
She was one of six underclassmen and three true freshmen to start at least 20 matches for the Big Orange and one of three Lady Vols to play in all 115 sets. A native of Littleton, Colo., Pollmiller was named the SEC Freshman of the Week a league-best five times in 2011, marking the second-most in SEC history.
As a team, Tennessee hit .278 during the year, good for second in the SEC and ninth nationally. She also accounted for 89.4% of UT's assists on the year and totaled the top two single-match assist marks in an SEC match this season with 69 at Ole Miss and 64 vs. Kentucky. Pollmiller also added 68 kills, 42 blocks and 10 aces, finishing the regular season with seven double-doubles, the second-most on the team.
Finishing the year as the team leader in hitting percentage after hitting at a clip of .333 during the regular season, Cikra was a vital part of the Lady Vols' success. Also a 2011 All-SEC First Team selection, her hitting percentage of .330 in SEC matches was seventh-best in the league and tops for a non-middle position player.
As a team, Tennessee hit .278 on the year, good enough for second in the league and ninth in the country. She hit .400 or better in eight matches this season and tallied double digits in kills 12 times. The 6-4 outside hitter recorded a hitting percentage of at least .250 in all but four matches on the year.
In SEC matchups, she rated second on the team in kills per set at 2.94, and her season average of 3.13 points per set was good for second on the squad. Defensively, the Chagrin Falls, Ohio, product averaged 0.75 blocks per set against the league to rank second on UT.
Harrison was also tabbed All-SEC First Team after leading the conference leader blocks, averaging 1.12 stuffs per set. Her average increased against SEC opponents, as she totaled 1.31 put backs a set. The Nashville, Tennessee, native's tally of 100 total blocks during the regular season was a team and SEC-best.
She ranked second on the UT roster and eighth in the SEC with a .314 hitting percentage. Her average of 3.09 points per set ranked her third on the team. Selected as the SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 26, Harrison started at middle blocker in every match this season.
Her clip of .733 against Alabama on Nov. 13 was the second-highest hitting percentage of any SEC player in 2011. She also had double-digit kills in 13 regular season matches, 11 of which came during SEC play. For the year, she hit .350 or better in 16 matches and recorded five or more blocks in 13 contests.