ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford women's volleyball team is once again well represented on the All-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Teams.
Sophomore Riley Anderson has been named the AMCC Co-Player of the Year, while sophomores Laura Hildebrand and Emily Cleveland, and senior Payton Orzech were named to the All-AMCC Second Team. Rounding out the Pitt-Bradford honorees is sophomore Katie Treat, who was named to the All-AMCC Third Team.
"Incredibly pleased to get five AMCC All-Stars for the second year in a row," Head Coach Tom Roof said. "It's a nice testament to where we are as a program that our players continue to get recognized by the league's coaches. And, what's nice, is that they're all great students."
Anderson becomes the sixth Player of the Year in Pitt-Bradford women's volleyball history and the second in three years (Kirsten Platz, 2016). She shares the title with Lexi Irwin from Penn State-Behrend.
"Riley has had an incredible year, and she's only a sophomore," Roof said. "Not only is she the top hitter in the conference, but she's also an incredible defensive player along with being an AMCC academic all-star. It helps having the team around her that she does, and she'd be the first to tell you that's where a lot of the credit goes. If we don't play defense the way we do, or she doesn't get the sets she does, she doesn't have the year she's had.
"But she's worked awfully hard to get to this point. She came in here as a freshman determined to be a leader on this team and to take it to the NCAA championships, and she's doing that."
The Cresson, Pa., native led the AMCC with 388 total kills and 3.66 kills per set. Her kills total ranks 41st in NCAA Division III while her kills per set ranks 59th nationally. On the season, she has The outside hitter also amassed 1,134 total attacks, the 34th most in the country.
A two-time AMCC Player of the Week, Anderson also recorded the fifth-most digs in the conference with 421, the most of any non-libero/defensive specialist. She was also named to the AMCC Championship All-Tournament Team for her performance during the conference playoffs.
For Hildebrand, 2018 marks the second-straight year she has earned All-AMCC honors as a season ago she landed on the Third Team.
"Laura is the heart and soul of this team," Roof said of his libero. "An incredible defensive talent. As a libero, there's no one better. I'm still amazed at what she does on the court, and it's a shame that sometimes it's overlooked. We are where we're at, as conference champs, largely because of her. She is a remarkable player and teammate."
The Panthers' libero led the conference and is 17th nationally with 617 total digs. She is third in the conference with 5.27 digs per set. The State College, Pa., native's season was highlighted by reaching the 1,000 career digs plateau – doing so in just 56 matches in her two-year career as a Panther.
As the reigning AMCC Newcomer of the Year, Cleveland has also earned All-AMCC honors her first two years as a Panther, claiming a spot on the First Team a season ago.
"A first-team all-star and AMCC Newcomer of the Year a year ago, Emily upped her game even more this year, and we expected her to," Roof said. "Second in the conference in kills, Emily may be the hardest hitter in the AMCC. This year, though, she's also become a much smarter player and in our comeback in the AMCC finals, in sets three to five, she was unstoppable."
The Winchester, Va., native finished second in the AMCC to her teammate Anderson with 355 total kills and recorded the third-best kills per set average at 3.38. Her .270 hitting percentage is also fifth-best in the conference. A go-to player for the Panthers this season, she was named the AMCC Player of the Week on Sept. 10.
Orzech is also a two-time All-AMCC honoree, landing on the Third Team last season.
"Absolutely the best setter in the league," Roof said. "It's a great honor for her to be named to the second team, but in all honesty, she's a first-teamer. She, for the second year in a row, led the conference in assists, and there's no setter in the conference who plays defense better than her. She a true leader who has done a tremendous job running our offense."
A transfer from the Chicago area, Pitt-Bradford's primary setter made a lasting impact on the program in her two years as a Panther, amassing 1,678 total career assists. This season, she led the AMCC with 1,029 assists and 9.71 assists per set – 1.71 assists per set better than the second-place finisher. She also leads the team with 34 service aces while recording 58 kills, 31 total blocks and 331 total digs.
Treat emerged as a dual threat to earn the first All-AMCC selection of her career.
"If this team was picked by position, she'd be a first-teamer," Roof said. "There's not a better rightside hitter in the conference. An incredible blocker, Katie has become a force offensively. We rely on Katie to do so much, moving her to the middle when needed. A quiet leader, Katie has made such a big noise on the court this year other teams have to game-plan against her, and they still haven't been able to stop her. What I like from such a young player as she is, is how big she has come up in our toughest and biggest games. She loves those kinds of challenges."
The Cyclone, Pa., native finished second in the AMCC with 96 total blocks and 80 assisted blocks. Her 0.86 blocks per set total ranked third in the conference. Offensively, she knocked 215 kills and swung at a .222 hitting percentage – both ranking in the top 10 in the AMCC. She was at her best late in the season, earning the AMCC Player of the Week for her performance during the final week of the regular season.
The All-AMCC recognition for Pitt-Bradford comes after the team went 7-2 in AMCC action and earned the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament, eventually sweeping its way to the AMCC title match.
Pitt-Bradford then went onto pull off a thrilling comeback down two sets at and against top-seeded Penn State-Behrend to win its second AMCC title in three years in five sets.
Now, the 20-12 Panthers advance to the NCAA Tournament where they'll face Thomas More (31-3) Friday in the First Round at Juniata College.