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South Alabama's Mechell Daniel selected Sun Belt Conference volleyball Freshman of the Year
South Alabama's Mechell Daniel was selected as the Sun Belt Conference volleyball Freshman of the Year, the league announced Wednesday night. She was also named to the All-Sun Belt first team. Freshman teammate Jessica Lewis was named to the All-Sun belt second team. (Photo courtesy of South Alabama)

- Freshmen have been the stars of season all year long, and the Jaguars dominated the Freshman of the Week awards all season long.

So it's no surprise that, the 6-foot-2 outside hitter from England, was selected the league's Freshman of the Year, the conference announced Wednesday night.

Daniel also earned All-Sun Belt first-team honors, with fellow freshman of Huntsville named to the All-Sun Belt second team.

The No. 5-seeded Jags open Sun Belt tournament play at Trojan Arena in Troy Thursday at 5 p.m. against No. 4 seed Texas-Arlington. South Alabama carries a 14-14 overall record and 9-9 conference mark into the tournament. The Jags won seven of their final nine league games of the regular season. The team recorded the most wins for the program in almost 20 years,

Daniel and Lewis become the first pair of Jaguars to earn all-conference honors since the 2000 season when Kelly Weiler and Holly Miller were each named to the league's second team. Daniel is the first player to be selected first-team all-SBC since Tonia Hatfield's award during the 1995 season. USA has now had seven first-team, nine second-team and two honorable mention selections for a total of 18 honorees during the program's history.

Daniel is also just the second player to be named as an individual award winner, joining Marei Lirette who was named the conference's Player of the Year for the 1988 season.

The freshman from Chelmsford, England, made an immediate impact in the Jaguars' lineup this season. Her 411 kills are the most ever by a freshman at South Alabama and also rank as seventh-most in a single season heading into the conference tournament. Daniel led USA and ranked third in the Sun Belt in both kills (3.83) and points (4.33) per set. She was even better against league competition as she averaged 4.03 kills per set.

Daniel recorded a team-high 14 double-doubles on the year, including 13 in conference play and posted double figure kill tallies in 23 of her matches. In a 3-1 road victory at Troy in the final month of the season, Daniel posted a career-high 28 kills versus the Trojans - her fourth 20-kill match of the season.

Daniel was named the Sun Belt's Freshman of the Week on a league-best four occasions this season and became the first conference player to ever be named both the top frosh and offensive player of the week when she earned the multiple honors on Nov. 11.

Lewis also made an immediate contribution for South Alabama. She and Daniel became one of the top offensive duos in the Sun Belt. Lewis ranked fifth in the league in kills (3.38) and points (3.78). She was named the SBC Freshman of the Week three times - second-most in the conference - throughout the course of the season, including earning the inaugural award back on Sept. 2. Lewis also earned the accolade in back-to-back weeks on Oct. 14 and Oct. 21.

Despite missing four weeks and 10 matches during the season due to a foot injury, Lewis still managed to record 247 kills. She posted two double-doubles during the season, including a career-best 20-kill, 10-dig match in South Alabama's near road upset of regular season champion Western Kentucky. Lewis led USA offensively 10 times and posted double figures in 16 of her 18 matches played. She also had eight matches of 15 kills or more.


Edina Begic (Arkansas-Little Rock, Junior, OH)

Sonja Milanovic (Arkansas-Little Rock, Sophomore, OH)

Mechell Daniel (South Alabama, Freshman, OH/OPP)

Charmaine Whitmore (Texas-Arlington, Senior, MB)

Amari Deardorff (Texas State, Senior, RS)

Noelle Langenkamp (Western Kentucky, Sophomore, MH)

Melanie Stutsman (Western Kentucky, Senior, S)

Paige Wessel (Western Kentucky, RS Senior, OH)


Dede Bohannon (Georgia State, Sophomore, OH)

Andrea Hole (Louisiana-Lafayette, Junior, S)

Tonice White (Louisiana-Lafayette, Senior, MB)

Jessica Lewis (South Alabama, Freshman, OH)

Taylor Gross (Texas-Arlington, Junior, OH)

Ashlee Hilbun (Texas State, Senior, MB)

Heather Boyan (Western Kentucky, Junior, MH)

Ashley Potts (Western Kentucky, Senior, DS)


Edina Begic (Arkansas-Little Rock, Junior, OH)


Ashley Potts (Western Kentucky, Senior, DS)


Melanie Stutsman (Western Kentucky, Senior, S)


Mechell Daniel (South Alabama, Freshman, OH/OPP)


Travis Hudson, Western Kentucky

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