Volleyball - Thu, Jun. 22, 2017
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BARBOURVILLE, Ky. – The Union College Office of Sports Communications was recognized for its efforts in covering the Bulldog volleyball program as the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) named it the NAIA Northeast Region Sports Information Office of the Year.

The announcement was made Wednesday during the annual release of the ACVA Grant Burger Media Award.

Led by Director of Strategic Sports Communications Jay Stancil, this is the first time Union was recognized by AVCA for its promotion of the sport of volleyball. Releases and statistical coverage, web and video efforts, including highlight packages, postgame interviews and features throughout the season, as well as a strategic social media presence were utilized to highlight and promote the success of the women's volleyball program and its student-athletes.

During the 2016 season, the Bulldogs advanced to the NAIA National Championship Tournament for the third year in a row. Union posted a 34-11 overall record and won both the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) regular-season and tournament championships. The tournament title is the third in a row for the Bulldogs.

Union made program and AAC history when it recorded a 3-2 win over Cornerstone (Mich.) in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round. Prior to the victory, no AAC team had ever won an opening round match. Advancing to the final site in Sioux City, Iowa, the Bulldogs again made conference history by producing yet another win, a 3-1 decision over Jamestown (N.D.) in pool play. Union finished pool play tied for second at 1-2 but was unable to advance to the single-elimination round after losing a tiebreaker set.

For their efforts, the Bulldogs ended the season just outside of the NAIA Top 25 poll as they received 95 total voting points to land at No. 26. Other highlights of the 2016 season include:

  • Rachel Andrews made program history in becoming the first Bulldog to land on the NAIA All-America Team as she made the third team. Prior to her, Union had five to receive honorable mentions. Andrews led Union with 381 kills and a 0.315 hitting percentage, which ranked 36th in the NAIA.
  • Andrews was named the 2016 AAC Player of the Year.
  • Paulina Hileman collecting 791 digs in the season, ranking her fourth in program history.
  • Andrews, Marissa Elam and Julia Edmonds earning All-AAC First Team honors with Hileman making the second team.
  • Bulldogs collect 500th win in program history.
  • Andrews and Elam earn AVCA All-Northeast Region honors.
  • The Bulldogs won the AAC Tournament without dropping a set, winning all three matches 3-0.

The AVCA Grant Burger Media Award is an honor intended to recognize members of the media who have been involved in the advancement of the sport of volleyball, whether it be through consistent coverage in all mediums (sports information, print, broadcasting, web content, college student reporter, and social media), production of volleyball-specific publications, or extensive radio and/or television exposure.  

It is named in honor of Grant Burger, former director of sports information and associate director of the AVCA from 1988-1992, whose hard work, innovative mind, knowledge and enthusiasm took the areas of media relations and publications at the AVCA to a higher level and increased awareness of the sport of volleyball nationwide.