Big Ten honors volleyball duo

Big Ten honors volleyball duo

PARK RIDGE — Illinois outside hitter Jocelynn Birks was honored by the Big Ten for the third time in four weeks on Monday. This time, the redshirt freshman was joined by teammate Annie Luhrsen in the conference’s weekly volleyball awards.

Birks was selected Co-Freshman of the Week after averaging 5.9 kills and 2.8 digs per set in a pair of Illini victories. It was her fourth Freshman of the Week honor and fifth conference award overall, including Player of the Week in mid-September. Birks tied current junior libero Jennifer Beltran for the most Freshman of Week awards in UI history. The Big Ten first included freshmen in its weekly awards in 2009.

Birks belted a career-high 28 kills to go with 13 digs and four blocks in a five-set win against Northwestern. Three days later against Iowa, the LaGrange Lyons graduate had 19 kills and nine digs in a three-set sweep at Iowa.

Luhrsen was named Setter of the Week after averaging 14.0 assists and 2.1 digs per set in the two Illini wins. Against Northwestern, the fifth-year senior racked up a season-high 64 assists as well as nine digs and three blocks. Luhrsen had 48 assists and eight digs against the Hawkeyes while directing the Illinois attack to a .305 hitting percentage.

The Big Ten weekly award was the first of the season for Luhrsen and second of her career. In 2011, the Wheaton native was named Defensive Player of the Week.

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