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Grace Kucharski Becomes First AVCA All-American for Golden Bears Volleyball

The junior defensive specialist is also the CCC Libero of the Year.

Grace Kucharski. Credit: Western New England University
Grace Kucharski. Credit: Western New England University
By Patrick Stewart, Director of Athletic Communication, Western New England University 

Junior defensive specialist Grace Kucharski has become the first Western New England University women's volleyball student-athlete ever to receive NCAA Division III All-America accolades from the American Volleyball Coaches' Association, as the AVCA made the announcement on Tuesday.

Kucharski, of Avon, Conn., is one of just two liberos based in New England and only 10 in the nation at that position to garner All-America this season. There are almost 450 institutions that sponsor NCAA Division III women's volleyball.   

"This is certainly an exciting honor for Grace and the WNE volleyball team! Earning the All-America award is truly impressive, especially as the first player in our program's history," third-year head coach Bret Stothart said. "It's a real indication of Grace's commitment and work ethic, as well as points to the growth and exciting future of our Golden Bears volleyball squad."

"I'm really honored to receive this award. I'm so proud to be able to represent my team and the University," Kucharski added. "The team has worked so hard this year as we continue to keep improving from season to season. We've been setting records and continually pushing to better ourselves and the team these past few years. It's very rewarding to look back and see how far we have come in such a short time.

"I'm thankful every day to be a part of such an amazing team and athletics program. The support I get from my teammates, coaches, family, and the athletics department keeps me motivated to keep pushing and bettering myself as a student-athlete. WNE athletics is truly my second family, and I'm so proud to represent them on this scale," she said.

Kucharski led the Commonwealth Coast Conference with 5.05 digs per set and a school-record 586 total digs, which breaks her previous season high of 574 set last season. She also has set a career high with 97 assists and ranks fourth in the CCC with 60 service aces (7 shy of her career best). She also is WNE's all-time leader with 1,626 digs, with her senior year left.

Earlier this month, the business management major also received the Golden Bears' first-everAVCA All-New England Region citation, repeated on the CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-District Women's Volleyball First Team, and was named the CCC Libero of the Year and all-conference first team.

Western New England finished the season with a 25-9 overall record and back-to-back Eastern College Athletic Conference New England championships.

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