Vander Ploeg makes NAU history with All-America mention

Janae Vander Ploeg holds NAU's all-time record with 1,626 career kills.

Nicholas Canaday

OMAHA, Neb. — Northern Arizona senior outside hitter Janae Vander Ploeg was selected as an honorable mention All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, becoming the first player in school history to be recognized by the AVCA.

Vander Ploeg is only the second player in Big Sky Conference history to receive All-America recognization from the AVCA. Idaho’s Mindy Rice was a second-team choice in 1994.

"You hate to say perfect, but it’s the perfect ending to an outstanding career," said coach Ken Murphy. "She’s performed at such a high level all season long in all phases of the game. Her hitting percentage and kills per game are the most obvious, but she blocked well, served well and played great defense. You hope someone who performs at that level gets noticed by the AVCA, and I can’t think of any player who is more deserving than Janae."

Last week, Vander Ploeg became the first Lumberjack to ever receive First Team All-Region honors for the Pactid North Region, which features 10 of the 50 teams in the RPI and four of the top 13 in the national AVCA Top 25 poll.

"You look back and there have been some really good players to come through NAU, but one of the reasons why Janae is the first All-American is because we’re in such a difficult region," Murphy said. "It’s so hard to get recognized out of this region of the country. For Janae to get recognized with that group of players not only in our region, but nationally, is really special and it’s an honor for our entire program."

Vander Ploeg was named the Big Sky’s Most Valuable Player for both the regular season and the conference tournament. She led the Lumberjacks in kills (563), kills per set (4.65), points (642.5) and point per set (5.31), all of which rank in the top 10 nationally. She had a .282 hitting percentage while tallying 360 digs, 39 aces and 61 total blocks.

She finished her career as the program’s all-time leader in kills (1,626), kill average (3.67), attacks (4,886) and sets played (443).