Volleyball

Powers Named SAC Female Athlete of the Year

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ROCK HILL, SC -- Catawba College All-American volleyball player, Melissa Powers (Bennett, NC/N. Moore HS), and Tusculum College record-setting football quarterback, Corey Russell, have been named the 2008-09 South Atlantic Conference Male and Female Athletes of the Year following a vote of the league's Directors of Athletics, the conference office announced on Tuesday.  Powers, who was named the top volleyball player in the region, was named the Female Athlete of the Year, while Russell, who set three conference single-season records, was named the Male Athlete of the Year. 

Powers becomes the third Catawba female to win the league Athele of the Year award, and second in four years, following golfer Paige Haverty in 2006.  Former volleyball and basketball standout Amy Peters earned the honor in 1993.  Marvin Moore is Catawba's lone Male Athlete of the Year honoree in 1999. 

The 2008 SAC Volleyball Player of the Year, Powers helped lead Catawba to a second-place finish in the conference and an NCAA regional appearance.  The Catawba Indians would advance to the regional championship match.  She led the SAC in kills, was second in blocks, sixth in hitting pct. and eighth in aces.

In the season opener, Powers set a school record for kills in a match with 37. She ranked sixth in the NCAA in kills per set at 4.30.  In addition, Powers hit at a 30 percent clip.  She was named to the AVCA All-America Third Team and was the Daktronics Southeast Region Player of the Year.  On November 11, she was named the AVCA National Player of the Week.  She is the only person in conference history to receive this award, and has done so twice during her career.  Powers is the conference's first Division II All-American to receive recognition higher than honorable mention.

A second-team All-South Region pick last season, she also posted Catawba marks for kills in a season (674) and career (1,884).  In addition, Powers was named to the 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III volleyball team. Powers was named to the second team for the second straight year.

"Melissa developed into our go-to player after her first year.  She had an exemplary work ethic and made those around better," said Catawba coach Ginger Hamric.  "She was an all-around player and not just front row."

Russell, from Speedwell, TN, smashed the record books in the finest season ever posted by a Pioneer signal caller.  He was named to three All-America teams - Daktronics (second team), D2Football.com, and Football Gazette (third team).  He was a national finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, which recognizes the Division II National Player of the Year as he finished sixth in the national voting.  The 2008 South Atlantic Conference Offensive Player of the Year and Daktronics Region Player of the Year peppered his name throughout the Tusculum, SAC and NCAA II record books.

Russell established 15 Tusculum records this season, including a pair of NCAA Division II bests.  He recorded 300 or more total offensive yards on 11 occasions this season, which were the best in DII history. He recorded 674 total offensive plays, which are a new NCAA II record.  The All-SAC First Team signal caller established league single-season records in total offensive yards (4907), passing yards (4097) and touchdown passes (37).  He also set TC season records for completions (301) and pass attempts (505).

Russell caps one of the most successful careers in Division II history. His 11,315 total offensive yards are the most ever by a Pioneer, second in SAC history and ninth in NCAA II history.  The Cumberland Gap High School graduate also set career marks in pass attempts (1382), completions (773), passing yards (9887), TD passes (82), touchdowns accounted for (103), interceptions (49) and total offensive attempts (1853).  He also becomes the first Tusculum quarterback to earn NCAA II All-American and All-Region honors.

Russell was selected to play in the Valero Cactus Bowl, the NCAA II Senior All-Star game, which was held in Kingsville, Texas earlier this month.  In that game, he rushed and passed for a touchdown as he accounted for over 170 total offensive yards, splitting time at quarterback for the East squad.

"This is a tremendous honor for both Corey and Tusculum College," said Tusculum head football coach and Athletic Director Frankie DeBusk.  "He is one of the finest players I have ever had the privilege to coach.  He has been a tremendous student-athlete, leader and competitor during his career at Tusculum.  I'm very proud of this exceptional young man and he will be greatly missed."

The South Atlantic Conference currently has nine member institutions: Brevard College, Brevard, N.C.; Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, Tenn.; Catawba College, Salisbury, N.C.; Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, N.C.; Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN; Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, N.C.; Newberry College, Newberry, S.C.; Tusculum College, Greeneville, Tenn.; and Wingate University, Wingate, N.C.

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December 1

Swimming @ Yellow Jacket Invite (Day 1)

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December 2

Swimming @ Yellow Jacket Invite (Day 2) W-2nd;M-4th

Track/Field @ JDL College Kickoff Classic

Basketball (W) @ Lincoln Memorial 43-60

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Basketball (W) vs. TUSCULUM 70-58

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Basketball (W) vs. ANDERSON 2 p.m.

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Swimming vs. QUEENS noon

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Basketball (M) vs. WINGATE 11 a.m.

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