Arneson also picked up first team All-Conference, noting a repeat selection for her as well, while Elrod was named to the second team.
The Lady Demons (19-11 overall, 15-3 SLC) completed the 2013 conference season with the program’s best mark, highest finish (two) and highest Southland Conference tournament seed (two). After beginning the season 1-8, the Lady Demons defeated six opponents in a row, including wins over Appalachian State and Southern Mississippi, to kick-off the program’s best season, surpassing 2012’s 20-13 overall record, 12-6 in the Southland.
“We’re so proud of all of these awards, and of what the team has done this season,” said fourth year co-head coach Hugh Hernesman. “We’ve always said that individual performance comes from the team’s performance, which is a direct reflection of this season.” Arneson ended the regular season on Saturday at Stephen F. Austin with a career-high 42 digs to bring her overall average to 5.56 digs per set, a Southland leader and No. 9 national ranking. The Tomball, Texas, native is currently crushing the program’s career digs record previously set by Cathy Herring ‘04 (1,325) after amassing 1,749 career digs through Saturday’s match.
The 5’3 libero has dug up 634 attacks this season to note the No. 1 slot in the NSU single-season digs ledger for the third year in a row. Arneson recorded 539 digs as a freshman and 618 as a sophomore to claim the record in both seasons.
Arneson garnered Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors six times this season, three of which in the past three weeks of the regular season, noting fourth in the league’s most-weekly-awards-in-a-season column.
“Keelie’s energy and effort on the floor has been infectious this season. She’s in the zone right now, and will be a great person to watch at the conference tournament this weekend,” said Hernesman. “She’s a fun player to watch, and a big reason for our success this season.”
Elrod leads the team with 12 double-doubles on the season, and registers season-bests of 19 kills and 21 digs, both against SFA. She recorded three double-doubles in a row during two different weeks this season (Sept. 14, Oct. 28). The Arlington Lamar product leads NSU with 2.88 kills per set and is second in service aces with .25 per set.
“Ashley has had a great first year with us and we can’t wait to see how she plays in the future,” said Hernesman. “She pays attention to detail on the floor and makes big plays whenever she is asked to.”
DiFrancesco was seen as the team’s ‘glue’ player this season, filling in wherever she was needed. She currently sits third on the team with a 2.17 kills per set average and a 2.66 digs per set mark. After gaining a wealth of experience out on the pin for the past two seasons, DiFrancesco is utilized in the highest form in different areas on the floor.
“Without a doubt, Stacey is that glue player for us,” said Hernesman. “She’s played wherever we have asked her to, and has such a passion for the game.”
The Woodlands, Texas, native was recently named to the Southland All-Time Honor Roll after earning Freshman of the Year honors in 2011, and becoming one of the first NSU volleyball players to earn a first team All-Conference selection in 2012.