Alison McKay named GNAC Defensive Player Of Year
By Steve Frost
Simon Fraser University libero Alison (Aly) McKay has been named Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Conference by head coaches.
It is the first major post-season award for the Clan volleyball program, now in its fifth year of competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Joining McKay on the All-Conference team was freshman middle blocker Tessa May, who received an Honourable Mention.
McKay was voted GNAC Defensive Player of the Year after anchoring the Simon Fraser defense. She finished second in the GNAC and finished with a ninth-place ranking in NCAA Division II with an average of 6.09 digs per set. She paced a Clan defense that led the GNAC and was ranked 21st in Division II with 18.53 digs per set. McKay finished with 30 or more digs six times, topped by a 42-dig performance in the season finale at Seattle Pacific on Nov. 21 that is the eighth best in GNAC history in a four-set match.
Watch McKay’s amazing save: https://streamable.com/hzff
"Aly has been a force in the back row for us all season,” says SFU head coach Gina Schmidt. “The training she did with the National B team this past summer combined with her unrelenting work ethic have enabled her to take her game to new heights.”
McKay made the Canadian Senior National "B" team and spent part of the summer training with the national program in Winnipeg, MB.
“Aly is a leader on and off the court,” says Schmidt. “She keeps her teammates composed in tight situations with her calm demeanor and energizes everyone in the gym with her highlight reel digs."
Tessa May was second on the Clan behind her sister, Devon, in kills per set (2.50). She led the Clan and was eighth in the GNAC in blocks per set (1.13), while ranking sixth in the conference with a .295 hitting percentage.
"Tessa was counted on to start every match for us this season despite battling shin splints since the summer,” says Schmidt. “As a true freshman, Tessa proved she can be a dominating presence at the net both offensively and defensively. This is only the tip of the iceberg for her and we are very excited for what she can accomplish in the years to come."
This is the first major post-season award for the Clan volleyball program.
Schmidt began re-building the program when she took over as head coach in 2013 after five years as the top assistant coach for the University of Montana Grizzlies. Now, three seasons later, the program has posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in more than two decades.
In 2015, Simon Fraser won six of its last seven games to finish with a 15-13 (.550) overall record and the team placed fifth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with an 11-9 mark. In 2014 the team was 17-9 overall and 11-7 in the GNAC.
“Winning a major individual award like this is a reflection of the quality of athletes we are now bringing into our program,” says Schmidt. “Aly is very deserving of this award but she will also be the first to tell you that volleyball is a team sport and every athlete in our gym plays a role in her success.
“I think this award highlights our team's defensive effort all season with Aly as the backbone of our back row unit.”