Blinn College outside hitter Jayde Shelton (San Diego) was named Region XIV Volleyball Player of the Year, Loren Scott (Tallahassee, Fla.) was named Region XIV Setter of the Year, and head coach Terry Gamble was named the Coach of the Year after leading the seventh-ranked Buccaneers to the conference championship.
“It is nice to receive the Coach of the Year Award, but it is about these young women and their performance, and it goes to everyone in the program who has helped make us successful,” Gamble said. “This is a team that does it the right way, and they work hard every day. They are a great group of young ladies and one of my favorite teams that I have ever coached.”
Under Gamble, the Buccaneers are 24-2 overall and advancing to the NJCAA Division I Volleyball Championship in West Plains, Mo., April 15-17, for the first time since 2015. The Buccaneers claimed the conference championship with a 12-1 record.
This is the second time Gamble, who has a 954-322 career record, has been named the Region XIV Coach of the Year in three seasons with the Buccaneers.
“Jayde works so hard to be great and has performed at a really high level,” Gamble said. “Loren has respect from her teammates and they really like her, so they work hard for her. Her IQ is off the charts when it comes to academics and volleyball, and she really processes the game.”
Freshman Shelton is fifth in the nation with 4.39 kills per set and sixth in the nation with 364 kills and .378 hitting percentage in 83 sets. She was named the Tachikara NJCAA Division I Volleyball Offensive Player of the Week after recording 76 kills and a .463 hitting percentage in 15 sets in Week 7. Shelton also was third on the team with 73 blocks.
“Being named the Region XIV Player of the Year is a great accomplishment,” Shelton said. “Our heart for the game and determination has allowed us to succeed. Our team chemistry and being friends on and off the court has allowed us to play really well together, and that has helped me succeed.”
Redshirt freshman Scott led the region with 10.36 assists per set and 860 total assists in 83 sets. She also recorded 75 kills and was third on the team with 183 digs.
“This is such a great conference with a lot of competition, so this is a big honor,” Scott said. “It wouldn’t be possible without my team, their support, and talent. This is such an amazing team with such amazing players and people, and they are enough to make any setter look like they deserve Setter of the Year.”
Joining Shelton and Scott with first-team all-conference honors were freshman Lixai Perez Velez (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) and sophomore Essence Clerkley, while freshman Chard’e Vanzandt earned second-team all-conference honors.
“This team is coachable, has a great work ethic, and has the desire to be the best they can be,” Gamble said. “All of the awards we have received are actually team awards because the whole team contributed to our success this season.”
Perez Velez led the Buccaneers with 387 digs, Clerkley was third on the team with 175 kills and second with a .359 hitting percentage and 75 total blocks. Vanzandt was second on the team with 208 kills and totaled 34 blocks.
Perez Velez and Vanzandt were also named to the all-tournament team. Perez Velez totaled 89 digs, while Vanzandt totaled 54 kills, in 14 sets at the Region XIV Tournament.
Next, the Buccaneers will enter the national tournament as the No. 8 seed and take on Western Nebraska on Thursday, April 15, at 1:30 p.m. in West Plains, Mo.
For more information, visit www.buccaneersports.com.
(COURTESY: Tara Dreyer, Blinn Information)