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DiFancesco and Arneson ready to make a run to the SLC title game
Nov 16, 2012 | 370 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It¹s the first time in NSU¹s 25 years in the Southland Conference that volleyball players have earned first-team all-conference honors. No previous player had earned more than honorable mention All-Southland recognition. DiFrancesco won NSU¹s first-ever Southland Freshman of the Year award last season.

Sophomore setter Emily Sweet and freshman outside hitter Caiti O'Connell earned honorable mention.

DiFrancesco, Arneson and the third-seeded Lady Demons (20-10 overall, 12-6

SLC) travel to Conway, Ark. to match up against fifth-seeded Stephen F. Austin (21-11, 11-7) on Friday at 4 p.m. in the first round of the SLC Tournament.

Northwestern has enjoyed a breakthrough season, earning its highest regular-season finish (tied for third), tournament seeding and Southland wins (12) while posting the program¹s first winning season since 1987. The20 overall wins are the best for NSU since 1975.

“I think having two players on the first team is some nice recognition forwhat the program has achieved this season,” said third-year co-head coachHugh Hernesman. “It was very well deserved as both Stacey and Keelie werevery consistent throughout the year.”

DiFrancesco, a sophomore outside hitter from The Woodlands, Texas, has

registered a team-high 12 double-doubles for the Lady Demons. She is fourth in the SLC in kills per set (3.38) and aces per set (0.37).

DiFrancesco has also registered 277 digs.

The reigning SLC Freshman of the Year has landed 340 kills this season, including a career-high 25 against Texas-Arlington on Sept. 8

“Last year, Stacey was a huge part of our offense,² said Hernesman.This year she has had a little more help so her kills per set were down but her hitting percentage has gone up and her errors have gone down from last year. It is exciting to see her grow as a player and I think she definitely deserves this honor.

Arneson, a native of Tomball, Texas, is second in the Southland in average digs at 5.00 per set. She finished fifth, right behind DiFrancesco, in average aces with 0.35 per set.

The sophomore libero broke the NSU single-season digs record of 539, set by Arneson herself, collecting 550 this year.

Arneson has recorded double-figure digs in all but two matches this season. She dug up a career-best 35 attacks against Southeastern Louisiana on Oct. 11.

This is Arneson¹s first all-conference accolade.

“I think it really says a lot for Keelie to go from not being recognized at all last year to making first team this season,² said Hernesman. She is really only in her second year at libero and I think it will be exciting to see how she continues to improve.

Sweet sits fourth in conference rankings for assists averaging 10.38 per set. The Houston, Tex. native is third in the league for overall assists with 1,112 on the year which gives her the third most in a single year in NSU history.

O'Connell ranks sixth in conference standings in kills with 3.04 per set, and second on the team behind DiFrancesco.

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