CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – For the second straight season, American University outside hitter Aleksandra Kazala has been selected as the Patriot League Player of the Year, the league office announced Tuesday. Also among the major award winners, AU sophomore Kristen Largay was the PL Libero of the Year for the first time.
Kazala was selected to the All-Patriot League first team in voting by the league's head coaches. American had three players voted second team All-PL – setter Kennedy Etheridge, middle blocker Vela McBride and outside hitter Helena Elbaek.
Kazala, a junior from Debica, Poland, was the Preseason Player of the Year and had a regular season that fulfilled that expectation. She currently is first in the PL at 4.70 kills per set, a mark that ranks eighth nationally in NCAA Division I.
She also ranks sixth nationally in total kills, fifth in points scored and has 17 double-doubles in kills and digs this season.
Kazala is the seventh AU player to have won the award, which has been given to an Eagle 13 times in American's 17-year history in the Patriot League. Karla Kucerkova, Rubena Sukaj and Monica Smidova are Eagles who have won the award multiple times.
Largay, a sophomore from Paradise Valley, Ariz., finished the season third in the Patriot League with 4.37 digs per set. She posted double figures in digs in 27 of the Eagles' 31 matches this season, including 40 at Navy in a performance that set a single-match school record during the Patriot League era.
Largay is American's second PL Libero of the Year honoree since the start of the award in 2011. Current senior Hoakalei Dawson won the award in 2015.
Etheridge, a junior from Overland Park, Kan., is fourth in the league with 8.63 assists per set and makes her second All-PL squad. Earlier this season, she became the ninth Eagle in history to reach 2,000 career assists and has moved into eighth on the career list.
McBride, a sophomore from Reston, Va., was the PL Rookie of the Year in 2016 and repeats as a second-team all-league pick. She currently leads the Patriot League and is 12th in the nation with a .422 hitting percentage.
Elbaek, a freshman from Ikast, Denmark, has eight matches in double figures in kills this season. She is second on the team in kills and third among Eagles with 60 kills.
American, which won the regular-season title with a 15-1 record, will host the Patriot League Tournament this Saturday and Sunday at Bender Arena.
The Eagles face fourth-seeded Lehigh at 2 p.m. in the opening semifinal on Saturday, with second-seeded Navy playing No. 3 Army West Point at 5 p.m.
The PL championship match will be played at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets for the Patriot League Tournament are available online. General admission seats for each day are $8 for adults and $5 for children. Students of all four participating schools are admitted free with a valid student ID.
The tournament will also be live streamed on WatchStadium.com.