RICHMOND, Va. – Senior Rebekah Strange (Avon, Ind.) was named Atlantic 10 Conference Libero of the Year and VCU's Jody Rogers was selected league Coach of the Year to highlight VCU's substantial all-conference award haul Thursday.
Three Rams, Strange, senior outside hitter Alica Kandler (Olfen, Germany) and junior middle blocker Tori Baldwin (Liberty, N.C.) were named All-Atlantic 10 First Team, while sophomore outside hitter Vicky Giommarini (Rome, Italy) collected a Second Team honor.
Additionally, Kandler and sophomore opposite Gina Tuzzolo (Newport News, Va.) were named to the Atlantic 10 All-Academic Team.
Rogers, in her fifth season, has led VCU to a 28-2 mark, including 14-0 in the A-10. The Rams captured their first A-10 regular season crown and will be the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament Nov. 17-19. VCU has won 25 consecutive matches, the nation's longest active win streak. The Rams' 28 wins are the team's most since the 1985 season.
Strange has been the back row anchor of a VCU defense that has held its opponents to a paltry .124 hitting percentage, lowest in the nation. The senior leads the Atlantic 10 with a career-best 5.02 digs per set. She's been even better in conference play, averaging 5.41 digs per set in those contests.
In addition to her outstanding defense, Strange has served up 32 aces this season. She has dug 30 or more balls in a match four times this year. In four seasons, Strange has amassed 1,754 digs, third-most in school history.
A force in the middle, Baldwin is on the verge of rewriting VCU's blocking records. This year, the Liberty, N.C. native leads the Atlantic 10 Conference and ranks fifth in the country in blocks per set (1.57). Behind her lead, VCU leads the nation in both blocks per set (3.28) and opponent hitting percentage (.124).
Baldwin is closing in on VCU's single-season blocks record. She has amassed 157 blocks this year and is within striking distance of the school mark of 172, held by two players. In three seasons Baldwin has totaled 384 blocks and is tied with Ivana Rich for second on VCU's all-time list. Kelsie Clegg (434) currently owns the career mark.
In addition to her blocking efforts, Baldwin is hitting .353 in 2017, which would be a program record if the season ended today. She is also averaging a career-best 1.87 kills per set.
Kandler is averaging a team-best 2.79 kills per set, while hitting .220. An all-around threat, the 5-foot-10 Kandler has also provided the Rams with 2.22 digs and 0.41 blocks per set. Kandler has also served up 28 aces this season.
She also collected an All-Academic award for her efforts in the classroom. A forensic science major, Kandler maintains a grade point average of better than 3.7.
Giommarini earns an A-10 Second Team nod after a regular season in which she led the Rams with 270 total kills and ranked second on the team with 2.60 kills per set. The Rome, Italy native has also averaged 1.84 digs and 0.61 blocks per set, while firing a team-best 38 aces.
Tuzzolo, meanwhile, was rewarded for her 3.804 GPA with an A-10 All-Academic award. An exercise science major, Tuzzolo has also averaged 2.30 kills per set and ranks fifth in the A-10 in blocks per set with 1.06.
VCU and its stable of All-Atlantic 10 Conference winners will take on the winner of Duquesne and Rhode Island on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. in the league's tournament semifinals at the Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.