Vela Named LSC Setter of the Year, Six Other Lions Named All-LSC

By Lion Athletics

RICHARDSON – Seven members of the Texas A&M University-Commerce volleyball team received all-conference recognition from the Lone Star Conference during Thursday night’s awards banquet.

Celeste Vela (Guadalajara, Mexico) was named LSC Setter of the Year. Vela and Maddy Rashford (Placentia, Calif.) earned first team all-LSC honors, Essence Allen (Tatum) and Lyric Hebert (Arvada, Colo.) earned second team all-LSC honors, and Maiya Dickie (Huntsville) was named honorable mention all-LSC.

Additionally, Vela, Riley Davidson (Commerce), and Nicki Gonelli (Round Rock – Stony Point) were named to the all-LSC Academic Team. The three honorees for the Lions are the most among all LSC schools.

“I’m really happy for Riley, Nicki, Maria, Maddy, Essence, Celeste, and Lyric,” said A&M-Commerce head coach Craig Case. “Not only are they all great players and deserving of these awards, but they’re great teammates as well. I’m glad that they are being recognized by our conference for their talents and performance this year.”

Vela put together the best statistical performance of any setter in the LSC. She had 905 assists on an average of 10.4 assists per set in the regular season to lead the conference. She had the most assists (51) by a setter in a three-set match this season as well as two of the top-three performances by an LSC setter. She had 63 assists against Lubbock Christian and 59 against UAFS. Vela has been named an all-LSC player for the third time in her career. She was named 2018 LSC Freshman of the Year, 2018 honorable mention all-LSC, and 2019 second team all-LSC. Vela is the second LSC Setter of the Year in program history, joining Jordan Neal in 2013.

Academically, Vela is named to the all-LSC academic team for the first time in her career. She is an industrial engineering major.

“Celeste has put in a ton of work on and off the court to continue to make herself a better player and teammate and this is a wonderful recognition of those efforts,” said Case. “In a league with as many talented setters as the LSC has, this is an even greater honor.”

Rashford is in her third year with the volleyball program, but that was her first full season with the Lions. She was named to the LSC All-Freshman team in the spring of 2021. In the fall, she was named LSC Offensive Player of the Week on October 5. She had 260 kills in 22 matches on an average of 3.33 kills per set, which led the team. She also had 31 blocks.

Allen, like Rashford, is a redshirt freshman who is in her third year in the program. Allen had 247 digs, 239 kills, 23 aces, and 23 blocks. She was second on the team in kills and fourth in digs. This is the first career all-conference honor for Allen.

Hebert has been named all-Lone Star Conference for the second time in her career, as she was named first team all-LSC in the spring. Playing primarily as the Lions’ libero, Hebert had 441 digs on an average of 4.79 digs per set. Her most notable performance came in the LSC Championship against Oklahoma Christian, she had 41 digs in the five-set thriller. Hebert also had team-leading 31 aces and 91 assists.

Dickie ends her college career with her first all-LSC honor. She made an impact both offensively and defensively for the Lions this fall. She had 172 kills and team-leading 80 blocks.

Gonelli is named to the all-LSC Academic team for the second time in her career. She graduated with a degree in sociology last year and is in graduate school, obtaining her degree in counseling. She has been named to the LSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll eight times, a Dean’s List Recipient, a Best In Class Scholar and had most kills without an error (18) in a match this year in NCAA Division II.

Davidson appeared in all 24 matches this fall and finished second on the team with 268 digs. She graduated with her bachelor of science in business administration and is obtaining her master’s of science in health, kinesiology, and sport studies. She was named All-LSC in Spring 2021, and has been named to the President’s List three times, the Dean’s List three times, the LSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll eight times, and was a Best In Class Scholar.

2021 LSC VOLLEYBALL ALL-ACADEMIC AWARDS

PlayerTeamYr.Pos.MajorHometown
Sophia BergAngelo StateSr.MBBiologyGeorgetown, Texas
Chloe PattonAngelo StateSr.LBiologyGillett, Texas
Arianna NavarreteCameronSo.OHPsychologyTucson, Ariz.
Jalee SimsLubbock ChristianJr.SMiddle School Educ.Amarillo, Texas
Kelsie SchiefelbeinOklahoma ChristianJr.MHBiologyPeoria, Ariz.
Kaitlyn KrafkaSt. Edward’sSr.OHKinesiologyKyle, Texas
Mackenzie CatalinaTexas A&M InternationalSr.OHMBA: MarketingCedar Park, Texas
Riley DavidsonA&M-CommerceGrad.DSHealth, Kines. and Sport Stud.Commerce, Texas
Nicki GonelliA&M-CommerceGrad.OHCounselingRound Rock, Texas
Celeste VelaA&M-CommerceSr.SIndustrial EngineeringGuadalajara, Mexico
Kelsi LuckenbachTexas A&M-KingsvilleSr.OHCriminologyCalallen, Texas
Callie CrausUT TylerJr.SKinesiologyGrapevine, Texas
Christina EscamillaUT TylerJr.RSKinesiologyArlington, Texas
Sadie SnayWest Texas A&MJr.SSports and Exercise ScienceKingman, Ariz.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION
Academic Player of the Year: Sophia Berg, Angelo State

2021 LSC VOLLEYBALL ALL-CONFERENCE AWARDS
SPECIAL AWARDS
Player of the Year: Kailyn Gilbreath, Angelo State
Offensive Player of the Year: Kailyn Gilbreath, Angelo State
Defensive Player of the Year: Baleigh Allen, Angelo State
Setter of the Year: Celeste Vela, A&M-Commerce
Libero of the Year: Chandler Vogel, West Texas A&M
Newcomer of the Year: Halee Van Poppel, DBU
Freshman of the Year: Mikaela Garvin, Eastern New Mexico
Coach of the Year: Chuck Waddington, Angelo State

FIRST TEAM

PlayerTeamPos.Yr.Hometown
Kailyn GilbreathAngelo StateRSSr.Ft. Worth, Texas
Baleigh AllenAngelo StateMBSr.Katy, Texas
Halee Van PoppelDBUOHJr.Argyle, Texas
Hannah FroeschlLubbock ChristianMBGrad.League City, Texas
Jalee SimsLubbock ChristianSSr.Amarillo, Texas
Alissa TolbertSt. Mary’sOHSr.San Antonio, Texas
Celeste VelaA&M-CommerceS/RSJr.Guadalajara, Mexico
Maddy RashfordA&M-CommerceOHR-Fr.Placentia, Calif.
Nicole MurffTexas A&M-KingsvilleDSJr.San Antonio, Texas
Aquincia StramblerUT Permian BasinOH/RSSr.Midland, Texas
Analise LucioUT Permian BasinSSr.Justin, Texas
Mikayla WareUT TylerOHSr.San Antonio, Texas
Christina EscamillaUT TylerRSJr.Arlington, Texas
Torrey MillerWest Texas A&MOHSo.Brownwood, Texas
Chandler VogelWest Texas A&MLSr.Hereford, Texas

SECOND TEAM

Chloe PattonAngelo StateDSSr.Gillette, Texas
Grace WhiteAngelo StateMBSr.Helotes, Texas
Leah PalenskyDBUDS/LJr.Omaha, Neb.
Jasmine GannonEastern New MexicoOHSr.Clovis, N.M.
Sage ChainLubbock ChristianMBJr.Schertz, Texas
Emily TranSt. Edward’sSSr.Eagan, Minn.
Mackenzie CatalinaTexas A&M InternationalOHSr.Cedar Park, Texas
Essence AllenA&M-CommerceOH/SFr.Longview, Texas
Lyric HebertA&M-CommerceL/DSJr.Arvada, Colo.
Ayanna JacksonTexas A&M-KingsvilleMBFr.San Antonio, Texas
Hannah HollandUAFSMBSo.Fort Smith, Ark.
Savannah GuzmanUT TylerDSJr.San Antonio, Texas
Kayla ElliottWest Texas A&MMBR-Jr.Wildomar, Calif.
Camy JonesWest Texas A&MOHFr.Portland, Texas
Bria AugustineWestern New MexicoOHSr.Bellflower, Calif.

HONORABLE MENTION

Sophia BergAngelo StateMBSr.Georgetown, Texas
Delaney FullerAngelo StateOHSo.San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Elsa LamphereAngelo StateOHSo.Aurora, Colo.
Arianna NavarreteCameronOHSo.Tucson, Ariz.
Morgan DemuthOklahoma ChristianMHFr.Mansfield, Texas
Maya SmallsSt. Edward’sRSJr.San Antonio, Texas
Caroline SwanSt. Edward’sOH/RSJr.McKinney, Texas
Julia AlemanSt. Mary’sOHSo.San Antonio, Texas
Maiya DickieA&M-CommerceMB/RSR-So.Huntsville, Texas
Trixie OcheTexas Woman’sMBSr.Richardson, Texas
Bailey WozniakTexas Woman’sSJr.Seguin, Texas
Maiya PenaUT TylerMBJr.Houston, Texas
Hannah CallisonUT TylerOH/RSSr.Richmond, Texas
Callie CrausUT TylerSJr.Grapevine, Texas
Sadie SnayWest Texas A&MSJr.Kingman, Ariz.

ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM

Jaedyn WoolleyAngelo StateDSFr.Amarillo, Texas
Audrey NunesDBUOH/RSFr.Midlothian, Texas
Mikaela GarvinEastern New MexicoOHFr.San Antonio, Texas
Aaliyah GrayLubbock ChristianOHFr.Lubbock, Texas
Kendall MahaneyLubbock ChristianDSFr.Lubbock, Texas
Cali NimsSt. Mary’sSFr.Corpus Christi, Texas
Blair MorelandWest Texas A&MS/OHFr.Katy, Texas