Stags Volleyball Wins Four MAAC Major Awards, MAAC Championship Set for This Weekend

Stags Volleyball Wins Four MAAC Major Awards, MAAC Championship Set for This Weekend

KJ Johnson '23 is the 2021 MAAC Player of the Year

The Stags open the postseason on Friday at 11 a.m. against tournament host Siena.

Four major awards highlight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) honors earned by Fairfield University Volleyball, as announced on Thursday morning by the MAAC office. KJ Johnson ’23 was tabbed as MAAC Player of the Year, Manuela Nicolini ’20 was named Setter of the Year, Mikayla Haut ’25 claimed Rookie of the Year, and Head Coach Todd Kress was selected by his peers as Coach of the Year.

“We’re all thrilled for our student-athletes that have earned these well-deserved All-MAAC honors. It’s a testament to their hard work and commitment not just this fall but throughout their careers,” said Kress. “It took all 19 student-athletes and countless others around our program to get us to where we are, and everybody — whether they were named All-MAAC or not — shares in our success this season. We will take a moment to celebrate our All-MAAC honorees and then shift our focus back to this weekend’s goal of winning the MAAC Championship.”

Johnson is the ninth different Stag to earn MAAC Player of the Year honors. The junior finished the regular season ranked eighth in the nation with a conference-leading 4.88 kills per set. Her .323 hitting percentage from the pins is good for third in the MAAC and is second in Division I among players with more than 900 swings.

Nicolini collects a conference-record fourth MAAC Setter of the Year award. She leads the MAAC with 11.10 assists per frame – a number that ranks 11th in the nation – while guiding the Fairfield attack with a conference-best .251 team hitting percentage.

Haut is Fairfield’s ninth MAAC Rookie of the Year in program history and the first since Megan Theiller ’18 in 2014. She leads all MAAC freshmen and ranks 14th overall in the conference with 2.59 kills per set. Haut also led all MAAC rookies (min. 100 attempts) with a .204 hitting percentage.

For Kress, his eighth MAAC Coach of the Year nod extends his own conference record after guiding Fairfield to the ninth MAAC Regular Season Championship in 12 years under his leadership. The winningest coach in MAAC Volleyball history is 255-111 (.697) overall and 141-27 (.839) in the MAAC in his career with six MAAC Championships (1997, 1998, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019). In 26 seasons as a Division I head coach, Kress is 489-306 (.615). He had led three teams to the NCAA postseason — Fairfield, Northern Illinois and Florida State — for a total of eight appearances on the national stage. He previously coached Fairfield from 1995-98 and returned to the helm beginning in the 2014 season.

Johnson and Nicolini were also two of the seven members of the All-MAAC First Team. Nicolini garners the honor for the fourth time in her career, joining Hall of Famers Liz Bower ’00 and Corrine Carlson ’01 as the only three Stags to accomplish the feat.

Luci Albertson ’21 collected All-MAAC Second Team recognition for the second time in her career after previously getting the nod in 2018. The graduate student has averaged nearly a block per set with 87 stuffs in 90 frames of work. Offensively, she has posted 1.96 kills per set on .213 hitting and has also scored from the end line with nine aces.

Rounding out the honorees, Haut headlines the MAAC All-Rookie Team as Rookie of the Year.

The top-seeded Stags finished the regular season at 21-8 overall and 16-2 in the conference. They will meet tournament host and eighth-seeded Siena on Friday, Nov. 19 at 11 a.m. in the MAAC Championship Quarterfinals.  The winner will advance to the first semifinal on Saturday at 4 p.m. against the winner of the Canisius/Niagara matchup, and the MAAC Championship Match is scheduled for Sunday at 4 p.m.

The entirety of the 2021 MAAC Championship will be held at Siena’s UHY Center on-campus in Loudonville, and all seven matches will be broadcast live on ESPN+.

Tags:  Top Stories,  Athletics


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