LEXINGTON, KY - Nicole Mattson was named as the South Region Player of the Year, and Florida Southern College volleyball head coach Jill Stephens earned South Region Coach of the Year honors when the American Volleyball Coaches Association released its annual all-region teams on Wednesday. In addition to Mattson and Stephens, two more Moccasins were honored by the AVCA as Anna Tovo and Bethany Besancenez earned first team all-South Region honors.
Mattson is the first player in school history to earn South Region Player of the Year honors while the selection of Stephens, who is a first-time winner herself, gives Florida Southern four South Region Coach of the Year Honors in its volleyball history (Lois Webb - 1989, 1990, 1993). Tovo was named as a first team all-region selection for the third-straight year, while Besancenez earned her first career honor.
Florida Southern now has a total of 78 all-South Region selections, 62 of which have been first-team selections, and this year's total of three selections is tied for the second-most in program history. The Moccasins had four first team all-South Region honorees in 1989 and 1990.
Besancenez, Mattson and Tovo were named as first team all-Sunshine State Conference selections last week, while Stephens earned her second SSC Coach of the Year award. The Mocs finished 25-6 during the regular season, won the SSC championship, and enter the NCAA South Regional as the No. 1 seed after winning 18-straight matches.
Mattson finished the season ranked second in the SSC and 20th nationally in total kills (493) and earned SSC Offensive Player of the Week honors three times this year. She had six performance with at least 20 kills and ranked third on the team in total digs. Tovo finished third in the conference and 44th nationally in kills (421) and was named AVCA Division II National Player of the Week and SSC Offensive Player of the Week at the beginning of November. She also earned CoSIDA Academic All-District® honors, and currently ranks fourth in school history in career kills (1,530).
Besancenez won SSC Setter of the Week four times, had 18 performances with 40 or more assists, and ranked first in the conference and 10th nationally in total assists (1,311). She also led the SSC and was 10th nationally in assists per set (11.71) and ranks sixth in school history with 3,670 assists. Stephens led the Mocs to their best regular-season record since 2006 (31-5) and saw her squad clinch its first outright SSC championship since 1990. The Moccasins defeated conference rival Tampa on the road for the first time since 1994, and enter the postseason on an 18-match winning streak, the longest since the Mocs won a school-record 33 in a row in 1990.
Florida Southern, which is ranked No. 22 nationally in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll, begins the NCAA Tournament tomorrow against Kentucky State in the first round of the South Regional. Match time is set for 7:30 p.m. from Jenkins Field House.