Birks, Mayers earn honors

Birks, Mayers earn honors

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Illinois outside hitter Jocelynn Birks was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Long Beach State Mizuno Invitational volleyball tournament.

The redshirt sophomore was joined on the eight-member all-tournament team Sunday by teammates Maddie Mayers and Jennifer Beltran.

Birks averaged 4.83 kills per set and 5.33 points per set in three matches. She also contributed 15 digs and six blocks, including two solos.

Mayers, a redshirt freshman competing in the first matches of her college career, turned in an eye-opening performance. The 6-4 middle blocker produced 2.42 kills per set and hit .345 in 58 swings. In addition, she recorded a team-high 20 blocks (one solo) to lead the Illini to a 36.5-26.5 advantage in that category.

Beltran, a senior libero, racked up 51 digs while averaging 4.25 digs per set.

Illinois finished 2-1 in the four-team round-robin event, tying No. 18 Florida State for the best record. No tiebreaker was in place to declare an "official" tournament champion, according to Roger Kirk, Long Beach State’s assistant athletic director for media relations. However, in head-to-head competition, the Illini swept the Seminoles 3-0.

No. 17 Kentucky and the host 49ers each finished 1-2.

Big Ten honors Mayers. Mayers was honored Monday by the Big Ten for her performance in Long Beach by being named the conference’s Freshman of the Week. The last Illini to receive the award was Birks on Nov. 26, 2012.