Former Chicago Sun-Times All-Area selection and Benet star Ariana Mankus recently became the first player in Patriot League history to be named "Player of the Year" and "Rookie of the Year" in the same year.
Mankus, who led Army to its first Patriot League volleyball chamionship in 15 years and its first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament, was also named the 2009 National Freshman of the Year by College Volleyball Update.com.
"This is such a tremendous honor and so well-deserved for Ariana," said 2009 Patriot League Coach of the Year Alma Kovaci. "I knew coming into the season that we were going to count on her to be an impact player right away. I knew that she had it in her to step into that role, handle the pressure and succeed.
"What impressed me more though is that she excelled in that environment, which is an amazing feat for a freshman," the Army coach added. "For her to be singled out among this group of enormous talent is fantastic. Ariana works for and deserves every award that has come her way this year."
Mankus led Army, which had graduated four all-conference players, to both the Patriot League regular-season and conference tournament titles. She averaged 4.8 kills per set during Army's two Patriot League tournament victories.
During the regular conrference season, Mankus averaged 3.67 kills per set and garnered first team All-Patriot League honors. She registered 12 double doubles (kills, digs), including one in each of the Black Knights' final four matches of the season.
Mankus also delivered 23 double-digit kill matches and reached the 20-kill plateau six times. She registered a career-high 26 kills in a 3-2 home victory over American on October 16 and 16 kills and 12 digs in the Black Knights' stunning upset of then-No. 19 Pepperdine on September 12 in Malibu, Calif.
The victory at Pepperdine was Army's first over a nationally ranked opponent in program history. Mankus hit for a .294 attack percentage to land fifth among the Patriot League's top hitters. Her 426 kills on the year rank ninth in Army single-season history, while her 3.67 kills per set lands seventh.
Mankus and the Black Knights finished the season with a 26-6 record, including a 12-2 Patriot League mark. The Black Knights drew Pennsylvania in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, but were eliminated (3-1) in the opening round on December 4 in a match that was played at Penn State's Rec Hall.
In addition to being named national freshman of the year by College Volleyball Update.com, Mankus was one of 19 players named to its "Rising Stars" team. Included in that group was former Chatham (Ill.) Glenwood star Hannah Werth of Nebraska.
Sports Performance Volleyball Club will host its annual Presidents' Day Tournament Saturday-Monday, February 13-15, at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Aurora and the Schaumburg Convention Center near Meacham Road in Schaumburg.
All of the 18s open and club contests will be played at Great Lakes, while the 15s, 16s and `17s will be played at the Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday. The 15s will move to the Great Lakes Center on Monday.
Among the clubs participating are Sky High, Fusion, 1st Alliance, Illini Elite, Munciana, Kane County, Powerhouse, Team Indiana, St. Louis CYC, Dunes, Rolling Thunder, A5, Celtic Force, Milwaukee Sting and Michigan Elite.
For more information, visit the Sports Performance Web site at www.greatlakescenter.com.