Dec. 14, 2011
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LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of New Mexico seniors Allison Buck and Ashley Rhoades are two athletes who have played a huge part in the resurrection of the Lobo volleyball program under head coach Jeff Nelson. So, it is only fitting that these two exemplary players get to finish their careers as all-Americans. The pair received national honors today after being named Honorable Mention All-America as selected by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
Buck and Rhoades are the 10th and 11th Lobos to earn AVCA All-America honors. It is the fourth consecutive year that the Lobos have placed student-athletes on the all-America team. “It’s a great testament to how hard both those kids worked,” Nelson said. “It is certainly something for others coming up in our program to look at and strive for. I’m really happy for both of them.”
The all-America honor is the second in as many weeks that both Buck and Rhoades have received. The duo was also named to the 14-person All-West Region team announced by the AVCA last week.
For Buck, the honor is one in a host she has enjoyed over the course of this season. The Camas, Wash., native became UNM’s all-time career digs leader this season, recording 1,630 digs over the course of her career to earn the all-time spot. She also set the all-time single-season digs record at UNM with 561 digs in 2011. Her 561 digs bested her previous season high of 455 digs and surpassed Sharon Browning’s 1992 record of 499.
“I never thought in a million years that I would be an all American,” Buck said. “I want to thank all my coaches and teammates from the past and present who pushed me to be the player I am today. This wouldn’t have happened without my teammates, coaches and family who supported me throughout my career.
“I am so honored and grateful for being recognized as an honorable mention all American,” Buck said. “I am thrilled that Ashley (Rhoades) and I were recognized for our play. We are both passionate players and love the game of volleyball.”
Coach Nelson couldn’t have been more pleased with the type of player Buck was during her four-year career as a Lobo.
“Allison Buck is one of the premier players anywhere. She is a phenomenal passer and a low error player that plays with high efficiency. She is the type of player that every coach loves to coach.”
Rhoades, who enjoyed the best season of her career, receives the honor after having led the entire Mountain West in both kills (3.89 per set) and points (4.52 per set). The extremely athletic and mobile middle blocker finished the 2011 season with 408 kills. It was the first time in her career recording over 300 and 400 kills in a season. The 408 kills helped catapult her over the 1,000 points plateau for her career as well.
Rhoades also climbed her way up the UNM record books, moving into the No. 4 all-time spot on UNM’s career total blocks list. The senior recorded 327 blocks, moving her past Linda Archuleta (1980-82, ‘84).
“Rhoades is a workhorse,” Nelson said. “She came in and improved herself every year. Kids that work as hard as she did deserve everything they get. She certainly is very deserving and is a testament to what hard work can do for a player.”
When receiving the news, Rhoades couldn’t help but react in the same way her teammate Buck did, and that was be completely humbled by receiving such a worthy honor.
“This is the best honor I could ever receive,” Rhoades said. “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be an all American. I’m so glad that Allison and I both received it. I couldn’t have done it without my parents, my coaches and my girls. It’s not just my award, it’s everyone else’s that helped me through it.”
The Lobos were just one of two teams in the Mountain West to have multiple players selected to the AVCA all-America team. Colorado State’s Katelyn Steffan and Megan Plourde were named to the third team, while Wyoming’s Jodi Purdy and San Diego State’s Andrea Hannasch also earned honorable mention honors.