HADLEY, Mass – Junior libero Phia Bellizzi was named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year and first-year outside hitter Bella Ahearn earned NESCAC Rookie of the Year as the 25th-ranked Wesleyan volleyball team was well represented on the all-conference teams, which were announced today and voted on by the league's coaches. Bellizzi was joined on the First Team by Nicole Hilton, while Kaira Muraoka-Robertson earned Second Team praise.
Bellizzi is the second Cardinal to earn the defensive player of the year award since 2000, joining Ruby Hernandez who won in 2009 and 2010. The league leader in overall digs per set (6.17), Bellizzi helped Wesleyan earn the No. 2 seed in the NESCAC Tournament and reach the semifinals for the third straight season. She was also selected to the All-NESCAC First Team for the second straight year and picks up her third all-conference honor overall after being named to the Second Team in 2017. Bellizzi was named a NESCAC Co-Player of the Week earlier this season on October 7, 2019.
Ahearn is the second Wesleyan player to be named NESCAC Rookie of the Year, joining Julia Gibbs who won in 2009. The first-year from Orlando, Fla. has made an immediate impact for the Cardinals as she ranks third on the team in kills, averaging 2.57 per set. She is also second on the team in total points with 205, while her .330 hitting percentage in NESCAC matches ranks seventh among league leaders in conference-only statistics.
Hilton, who was named the NESCAC Player of the Year in 2017, earns the third all-conference honor of her career. The Wantagh, N.Y. native earned Second Team praise as a freshman before taking home the player of the year award and First Team laurels as a sophomore. She leads the NESAC in points per set (3.9), ranks second in blocks per set (1.04), fifth in hitting percentage (.349), and eighth in kills per set (2.95). She was named the NESCAC Player of the Week twice this season, on consecutive weeks.
Muraoka-Robertson earns her first All-NESCAC honor despite being named an AVCA All-America Honorable Mention last year. The senior setter is leading the league in assists, averaging 8.97 per set, and ranks 12th in digs per set with an average of 3.13. She has 14 double-doubles on the season.
Tufts led all teams with five All-Conference selections while Wesleyan was second with three. Amherst and Bowdoin each had two selections. It's the second time in the past three seasons that the Cardinals have placed three players on the All-NESCAC Teams.
Wesleyan boasts a 20-4 overall record and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. It's the third consecutive season that the Cardinals will be competing in the national postseason. They will face St. John Fisher on Friday, November 15 at 12:30 p.m. on the campus of regional host Clarkson.