Following her standout rookie season for the Crusaders, Valparaiso University freshman libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) has been honored as the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Midwest Region Freshman of the Year. Cookerly is one of just 10 freshmen nationwide to earn the regional Freshman of the Year accolade, and is now up for consideration for National Freshman of the Year.
Cookerly stepped right into the starting libero spot for the Crusaders from day one this year and put together a stellar freshman campaign, recording 686 digs on the season – a new Valpo freshman record and fourth-most overall in a single season in program history. Her average of 5.86 digs/set ranked ninth nationally and topped all Division I freshman, as Cookerly was one of just two rookies to rank among the top-25 in the nation in digs. She led the way as well as Valpo averaged 20.03 digs/set as a team to lead the nation in the category.
Cookerly stood out with her play in the back row when the opposition was toughest, highlighted by her debut as a Crusader at Notre Dame, when she set a new school record with 43 digs in a single match. Over five matches against the AVCA’s top-50 teams (once versus Notre Dame, and twice apiece versus Missouri State and UNI), Cookerly raised her average to 7.20 digs/set, while over eight total matches against the AVCA’s top-100 teams (including three matches against Illinois State), she came in at 6.75 digs/set – well above her overall average.
Cookerly is among 14 players who will be considered for the National Freshman of the Year award – a group which includes the 10 regional honorees, as well as other freshmen who earned All-Region accolades. Cookerly is the lone libero among that group of 14 players.
AVCA Regional Freshmen of the Year
East Region – Taryn Knuth, Florida State, MB
East Coast Region – Kayla Lund, Pittsburgh, OH
Midwest Region – Rylee Cookerly, Valparaiso, L
North Region – Stephanie Samedy, Minnesota, RS
Northeast Region – Dana Rettke, Wisconsin, MB
Pacific North Region – Kylee McLaughlin, Oregon State, S
Pacific South Region – Brynna Deluzio, Colorado, S
South Region – Taylor Bannister, LSU, RS
Southeast Region – Madison Lilley, Kentucky, S
Southwest Region – Yossiana Pressley, Baylor, OH