NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A second straight Atlantic 10 Championship and ninth straight NCAA Tournament berth didn't happen by accident. It was a talented roster of student-athletes led by a good coaching that earned those feats.
On Monday, those student-athletes and coaches were rewarded as the Rams took home two of the three major awards and six total all-conference accolades. Senior Cindy Chala was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year for the second straight year and Head Coach Paul Kostin was named Coach of the Year for the sixth time.
Chala, sophomore Yukako Noi and senior Daria Yakauleva earned spots on the Atlantic 10 First Team, while Olga Barcheuskaya and Salome Kvitashvili were recognized as part of the Atlantic 10 Second Team. Noi also earned a spot on the All-Academic squad.
Kostin is taking home his sixth Coach of the Year Award in 13 years at the helm of the women. It is 18th Coach of the Year Award overall (including the men's side). He helped guide the Rams to their third conference title in the past four years and ninth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. He currently sits third in NCAA history with 1,027 career victories.
A native of St. Cloud, France, Chala posted a team-high 22 singles wins this year, including a 12-5 mark at the top spot in VCU's lineup this spring. She was ranked in the ITA singles rankings all year, reaching as high as #57. She has five wins over players ranked in the ITA top-90.
Noi finished the year with 17-9 mark overall and 9-4 this spring. Six of those wins came against ranked competition. Her best win came at the end of the fall season when she dropped Virginia's Stephanie Nauta in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0. Nauta is now the 53rd-ranked player in the country. From February 1st on, the Gojo, Japan native went 8-1 overall.
In the classroom, Noi has earned a spot on the Athletic Director's Honor Roll three times and holds a 3.24 cumulative grade point average in business.
Yakauleva finished the year with a 15-8 singles mark, including 9-4 in dual matches this spring. Seven of her nine wins came in the top-three spots in VCU's lineup. After Jan. 31st, Yakauleva had just three losses in singles action.
Barcheuskaya solidified the back end of the Rams' singles lineup with 14 singles wins on the year, 10 of which came in dual matches this spring. She won nine of her final 12 singles matches, including two victories at the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Kvitashvili was the only other Ram besides Chala to record 20 singles victories on the year. She went 12-6 in dual matches this spring with eight of those wins coming at #4 singles. She finished the spring by winning nine of her final 11 singles matches.
The Rams open up the 2014 NCAA Tournament on Friday in Chapel Hill, N.C. First serve against seventh-ranked UNC is set for 1 p.m.
Atlantic 10 First Team
Cindy Chala, VCU
Atlantic 10 Second Team
Olga Barscheuskaya, VCU
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