For the third straight season, Valparaiso had a pair of players honored by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) as the organization released its all-region teams on Tuesday. Senior libero Taylor Root (Jenison, Mich./Jenison) earned All-Midwest Region accolades for the third straight year, while junior middle Ellen Vanden Berg (Little Chute, Wis.) was named an Honorable Mention All-Midwest Region recipient for the first time.
With her third All-Region nod, Root is the sixth Valpo All-Region honoree in the last eight years and the first three-time recipient. Previous honorees were Angie Porché, a two-time honoree in 2007 and 2008, and fellow libero Brittany Malicoat, who received the honor in 2008. Root was one of only nine liberos nationwide to receive All-Region commendation and is the only three-time honoree among the group.
Root earns her third All-Region honor after being named the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year for a third consecutive year. The senior closed out her Crusader career fourth in NCAA history in total digs, this season ranking 11th nationally with 5.70 digs/set. Her 735 total digs on the season are third-most in a single year in Valpo history, giving her three of the top four single-season totals all-time at Valpo. Root also enjoyed her best season on serve receive of her career in 2012, committing just 17 serve reception errors in 33 matches.
Meanwhile, Vanden Berg earned Honorable Mention All-Region notice after a breakout junior season. The middle earned All-Horizon League honors and twice was named Horizon League Player of the Week in 2012. Vanden Berg finished fourth in the league, averaging 1.13 blocks/set, and increased her average to a league-high 1.49 blocks/set within Horizon League play. Her 144 total blocks on the season were fifth-most in a single year in Crusader history. Offensively, Vanden Berg paced Valpo with 2.51 kills/set and hit a team-high .285, good for sixth in the league.
Root and Vanden Berg are now both eligible for All-America selection. The All-America teams will be announced next Wednesday, December 12.