COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech senior middle blocker Kelsey Gray received the highest honor a defensive player can earn after being named Wednesday as the Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year. The award was voted on by the league's head coaches and sports information directors. Gray was the lone Tech representative on the 2012 all-OVC team.
"I am so happy for this deserving young lady," said head coach John Blair. "Kelsey has been one of the most consistent and determined players that I have had the good fortune to work with through the years. She is very deserving of this recognition in the conference. I know she will also give credit to her teammates, as wel; she will be the first to say that no one accomplishes these types of accolades without the help and support of a lot of people."
Gray's play at the net anchored the best blocking team in the conference. Her own 1.51 blocks per set gave Tech a 2.53 blocks per set average, well above any other team in the OVC. Gray finished her senior season 40 solo blocks and 108 block assists for a grand total of 148 total blocks this season.
Assistant coach Claire Lindner recognized the impact Gray had, on not only the Golden Eagles, but opponents, as well.
"It is a testament to Kelsey Gray's impact that she was recognized by the coaches within the Ohio Valley Conference," Lindner said. "They had to prepare and game plan to deal with Kelsey's abilities. The award could not go to a better player and our entire program is very proud of her."
Gray's performance this year solidified her spot in Tech's record books. Gray's 108 block aassists is the fourth-most in program history, the second-most in the rally scoring era. Throughout her career, Gray has dominated the net, collecting 502 total blocks, 149 solo and 353 assists with a career average of 1.14 blocks per set. Gray's career total is the second-most in Tech history. Gray also has the third-best solo block total with 149.
Gray's career is highlighted by hard work and perserverance.
"Kelsey has come in to practices and worked hard the past four years, and it has shown on the court," noted graduate assistant Don Hardcastle. "She set her goals for herself high this season, and this award exemplifies the effort she put in each and every day."
Joing Gray on the all-OVC Team were 13 other players including OVC Player of the Year Ellie Roberson (Morehead State), and OVC Freshman of the Year Abby Saalfrank (Easter Illinois). Seven freshmen made the All-Newcomer team, and Morehead State's Jaime Gordan won OVC Coach of the Year after back-to-back regular season championships and a perfect 16-0 record in conference action this season.
2012 All-OVC Team
Ellie Roberson (Morehead)
Nikki Doyle (Austin Peay)
Kelsey Gray (Tennessee Tech)
Colleen Yarber (Southeast Missouri)
Jen Myer (Belmont)
Emily Coon (Southeast Missouri)
Naomi Wells (Tennessee State)
Annie Gruenschlaeger (Morehead State)
Hanna Miranda (Belmont)
Jen Myer (Jacksonville State)
Reynae Hutchinson (Eastern Illinois)
Kasey Elswick (UT Martin)
Ashley Edmond (Eastern Kentucky)
Erika Moss (Tennessee State)
OVC Player of the Year: Ellie Roberson, Morehead State
OVC Freshman of the Year: Abby Saalfrank, Eastern Illinois
OVC Defensive Player of the Year: Kelsey Gray, Tennessee Tech
OVC Coach of the Year: Jaime Gordon, Morehead State
Abby Saalfrank (Eastern Illinois)
Marah Bradbury (Eastern Illinois)
Kelsey Anderson (Jacksonville State)
Jocelyn Youngdahl (Belmont)
Amanda Crask (UT Martin)
Taylor Olden (Murray State)
Taylor Masterson (Southeast Missouri)