Peck and Kozon named Sun Belt's best

Four Blue Raiders earn All-Sun Belt honors

November 17, 2010 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Following an impressive regular season, Izabela Kozon and head coach Matt Peck took home the Sun Belt Player of the Year award and the Sun Belt Coach of the Year award, respectively, as announced by the league office on Wednesday evening.

"Izabela is such a hard worker and is always prepared for matches, and she never disappoints," head coach Matt Peck said. "Ever since she made the NCAA All-Regional team in 2007, she's been really focused on becoming one of the best players in the conference. I'm so happy for her, and I don't think that there is anyone more deserving."

Despite missing two weeks of play earlier in the season, Kozon tied a conference record, earning Sun Belt Player of the Week accolades on five occasions. The native of Warsaw, Poland, ranks first in the conference in kills per set, averaging 4.11. Kozon was even better in conference play, upping her kills per set average to 4.32 and hitting at a blistering .352 rate.

Kozon was also a standout defensive performer, averaging 2.11 digs and 0.52 blocks per set. She topped double-digit digs this season on nine occasions, including a stretch in September highlighted by six consecutive double-doubles.

Peck earned just his second career Sun Belt Coach of the Year award, directing the Blue Raiders to one of the best regular seasons in school history, winning the Sun Belt regular season title. Middle Tennessee topped 25 wins for the fifth consecutive year, posting just five losses. After beginning with a 3-4 record, the Blue Raiders have won 22 of their last 23 matches and are currently receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll.

"It seems like we really haven't had to rebuild, but rather reload," Peck said. "Even though we lost a number of players last year, I think we've had the ability to put in some players who maybe haven't played as much without losing a beat. Reaching 25 wins is always a goal for us, and earning recognition for that from my peers is certainly an honor."

In addition to Kozon, Middle Tennessee placed two more players on the All-Sun Belt First Team, Maria Szivos and Ashley Adams.

After making All-SBC Second Team for New Orleans last season, Szivos picked up where she left off in her first year in Murfreesboro. The junior was third on the team in kills with 240, averaging 2.53 per set and hitting at an impressive .309 clip. She entered the season with a reputation for her service game and owns a team-best 34 aces. Defensively, Szivos is averaging 1.20 digs and 0.58 blocks per set.

"When Maria first got here from UNO, we had to switch her to a different position, and it's worked out great," Peck said. "She's won a number of matches for us this year, and she has really blossomed in our system here."

After regular starter Alyssa Wistrick went down with a season-ending injury early in the year, Ashley Adams took hold of the opportunity, posting 267 kills and putting up 3.26 per set, a mark that ranks fifth in the Sun Belt.

"She didn't really play much last year, and we kept seeing flashes of brilliance from her," Peck said. "She's really worked hard and she's done a great job. She is driven to become a great player, and that's a great attitude to have."

Stacy Oladinni followed up a terrific sophomore season with her second consecutive All-Sun Belt Second Team honor. The junior ranks first in the conference in blocks per set a 1.14 and owns a .306 attack percentage.

"I'm thrilled for Stacy because we had to switch her position at the start of the season," Peck said. "She's been playing with a stress fracture all year, and we really haven't seen much of a drop off. I'm so happy she made it."

Middle Tennessee will now prepare for a first round meeting with South Alabama in the third match of the day on Thursday, set for 5 p.m. All matches will be played at Alumni Memorial Gym, and tickets for the event will be available at the gate or through the MT Athletic Ticket office. One day passes are $10 for adults and $7 for children under the age of 12. Students of Sun Belt institutions will free admission with a valid school ID.

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