LEXINGTON, Ky. - The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced Monday that the University of North Dakota was one of a record 676 teams that have earned the AVCA Team Academic Award for the 2013-14 season. The award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale.
North Dakota, with its 3.389 collective cumulative grade point average, is one of just 134 recipients at the NCAA Division I Women's level to achieve this distinction. UND has now earned the honor in back-to-back seasons and for the third time overall (2003).
“This award just shows how special these student-athletes really are," UND head coach Mark Pryor said. "They fully understand that collegiate athletics is basically a fleeting four-year experience. The education they receive here at the University of North Dakota will set them up for success not just for the next four years, but the next forty years. You can tell that the volleyball student-athletes really embrace what a quality university degree can actually offer them when they begin their professional careers. As a staff and a department, we could not be more pleased to see our program place true value on the importance of excelling in the academic realm of the university, not just the athletic arena.”
UND had a whopping 11 volleyball student-athletes, most of any conference school, earn Academic All-Big Sky Conference accolades last season as the league's regular season co-champions. In addition, Ronni Munkeby and Lauren Clarke were each honored with College Sports Information Directors of America All-District plaudits while Munkeby became the program's fourth-ever Academic All-America honoree.
"Too often athletic participation is associated with academic underachievement and this stereotype is simply false when it comes to volleyball," said AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. "Couple the smarts represented by these teams with the competitive experience and team-focused training gained on the court and we have a potent formula for future leadership! What a significant contribution that is by their coaches and schools."
North Dakota officially opens practice Friday with the season premiere coming Aug. 29 against Auburn at the George Washington Invite.