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Big Sky All-Conference Team (pdf)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After winning 13 conference matches - the second most of any Big Sky team - Sacramento State was rewarded with five players receiving all-Big Sky Conference volleyball recognition, headlined by first team setter Kennedy Kurtz, it was announced today by the league office.

Kurtz becomes the first Hornet setter to be named to the first team since Lisa Beauchene in 2003. In addition, four of Kurtz's teammates were named second team including senior rightside hitter Madeline Cannon, senior middle blocker Courtney Dietrich, senior libero Lexie Skalbeck and junior outside hitter Shannon Boyle. The five players named all-league were the most of any of the Big Sky's 12 teams and ties for the most ever awarded to the Hornets since the program joined the Big Sky in 1996 (the 2005 and 2001 squads also had five players on the all-league team).

In addition, Skalbeck was named the Big Sky's Libero of the Year after leading the league in digs per set (5.14), and pacing the Big Sky in digs per set in conference matches (5.82). Skalbeck becomes the first Hornet named libero of the year since Kristin Lutes in 2006. In addition, Skalbeck joins Lutes (2003, 2005, 2006) and Olivia Thomas (2001) as the only three Hornets to receive the Big Sky's top libero/defensive specialist award.

Sacramento State will enter this week's Big Sky Tournament as the No. 2 seed after finishing the regular season with a 19-11 overall record and a 13-3 mark in the Big Sky. The Hornets have won eight straight matches heading into the tournament and the 13-3 conference record is the program's best mark since the 2007 squad also went 13-3. Sacramento State was the crowned the Big Sky's South Division champion, but North Dakota (14-2) will host the conference tournament by virtue of winning the North Division and finishing with a better record than the Hornets.

Sacramento State opens the three-day, single elimination tournament on Thursday against No. 7 seed Eastern Washington at 9:30 a.m. PST. Eight of the league's 12 teams qualified for the event, which includes four quarterfinal matches on Thursday, two semifinal matches on Friday, and the championship on Saturday evening. The winner of Saturday's title match will receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

KENNEDY KURTZ - Junior Setter (First Team)
Becomes the first Hornet setter to be named to the first team since Lisa Beauchene in 2003…now a two-time all-league selection after being named to the second team a year ago…a starter in all 30 matches, Kurtz is also the only Hornet to appear in all 110 sets this season…current average of 11.40 assists per set not only leads the Big Sky, but is also the 11th best mark in the nation…in addition, her overall total of 1,254 assists are second best in the nation…also averaging 2.76 digs per set…has 73 kills, and is hitting .365…has posted 40-plus assists each of the last four matches and 17 times this year…also has seven matches with 50 or more assists…recorded double figures in digs on 16 occasions, and has 16 double-doubles…current mark of 11.40 assists per set is nearly identical to her mark of 11.39 assists last season…the 11.40 average is the best by any Hornet setter since the NCAA adopted 25-point sets in 2008…named Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 26…her total of 3,797 career assists are already the sixth most in program history…her .328 career hitting percentage is the seventh best mark in program history.

MADELINE CANNON - Senior Rightside Hitter (Second Team)
Named second team all-Big Sky for the second straight season…made the transition to rightside hitter after spending her first two years in the program at middle blocker… could have easily been named to the first team - in Big Sky matches, she ranks fifth in the conference in kills per set (3.38), points per set (4.04) and aces per set (0.33)…in addition, she is 10th in hitting percentage (.310) in conference matches…was a second team all-league selection last season as a middle blocker, and now a second team choice as a rightside hitter…has 16 matches with double figures in kills, including eight matches with 15 kills or better…named Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 31…had a career-high 20 kills to go along with a .459 hitting percentage two weeks ago in a home win over Portland State…has 790 career kills despite playing just three years with the program after transferring from Santa Clara prior to her sophomore season.

COURTNEY DIETRICH - Senior Middle Blocker (Second Team)
Her second team all-Big Sky selection is even more impressive considering that Dietrich suffered a major knee injury with a month left in the season a year ago…bounced back in a big way to start all 30 matches this season, which includes playing 107 of 110 sets…her .365 hitting percentage currently leads the conference…averaging career highs in kills per set (1.51) and hitting percentage…also averaging 0.80 blocks per set…enters the Big Sky Tournament with 16 kills and zero errors in her last 28 swings…hit .400 or better on 14 occasions this season…named to the all-tournament team at the Rebel Challenge…in conference play, she is averaging 1.37 kills and 0.88 blocks per set to go along with a .335 hitting percentage (fourth in the Big Sky)…a four-year starter at middle blocker, Dietrich has 508 career kills, 345 blocks and a .271 hitting percentage.

LEXIE SKALBECK - Senior Libero (Big Sky Libero of the Year; Second Team)
Named Big Sky Libero of the Year and a second team all-conference selection…started all 30 matches at libero and played in 108 of a possible 110 sets…becomes the first Hornet named Big Sky Libero of the Year since Kristin Lutes earned the honor in 2006…also just the third Hornet to ever receive Big Sky libero/defensive specialist of the year accolades (Lutes did it three times, Olivia Thomas in 2001)…leads the Big Sky in digs per set (5.14), and digs per set in conference play (5.82)…Skalbeck's 5.14 digs per set average is the 20th best mark in the nation, and her overall number of 555 digs is the 22nd best mark in the country…has at least 11 digs in all but two matches this season, including 13 matches with 20-plus digs and four matches with 30-plus digs…named Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week on two occasions (Aug. 29, Oct. 31)…named all-tournament at the Maverick Classic…also has 83 assists…her average of 5.14 digs per set currently ranks as the fifth best single-season mark in school history…her 1,713 career digs are fourth best in school history.

SHANNON BOYLE - Junior Outside Hitter (Second Team)
A second team all-Big Sky selection after returning from a back injury that limited her to three sets during the Hornets' 16 conference matches a year ago…has played in all 30 matches (29 starts), including 105 of 110 sets…currently averaging a team-high 3.51 kills per set…also averaging 3.00 digs and 3.88 points per set…among Big Sky leaders, she ranks fourth in both kills and points per set…her average of 11.31 attacks per set is 35th most in the nation…ranks first on the team and third in the Big Sky with 17 double-doubles…a two-time all-tournament selection at the Maverick Classic and Sacramento State Invitational…has recorded double figures in kills in 24 of 30 matches, and posted double digits in digs on 18 occasions…her 369 kills are 148 more than her previous two years combined…one of the team's primary passers, Boyle's .959 service reception success rate is the top mark on the team.