WINTHROP, Mass. – Simmons University's Scott Grandpre (East Greenwich, R.I.) was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Volleyball Coach of the Year, while Sydney Iannantuono (East Lyme, Conn.) was selected the Rookie of the Year. Junior Morgan Weeg (Goodyear, Ariz.) was tabbed to the First Team and Amanda Fortune (Round Rock, Texas), Faith Gray-Williams (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Morgan Lauvray (Murrieta, Calif.) were all chosen to the Second Team, it was announced today by the league. In addition, first year Grace Pontius (Underhill, Vt.) was named to the All-Sportsmanship Team.
Grandpre becomes just the second coach in school history to earn top coaching honors from the GNAC after Alesia Vaccari was selected following the 2011 campaign. The fifth-year coach guided the Sharks to a 19-9 (.679) overall record, including 11-1 (.917) in conference play to earn the number two seed in the GNAC Championship Tournament. The team's win total marks the third-most in school history, while its conference triumph tally ties the 2017 edition for the most ever at Simmons. Grandpre directed the Sharks to a win in the league quarterfinals, before bowing in five sets to third-seeded Rivier University in the semifinal round. The former Sacred Heart University standout saw Simmons raise its win total by five from a year ago and feature five players on the All-Conference team to tie for the most of any school in the conference and mark the most all-conference honorees in school annals. The team was also recognized five times with weekly conference awards during the season. The Sharks ranked among the top three GNAC schools in kills per set (12.01/3rd), hitting percentage (.201/3rd), assists per set (11.39/3rd) and were second in aces per set at 2.70, which was also good for 28th in the nation. Grandpre's charges were extremely resilient throughout the season after dropping the first two matches of the year in five sets, Simmons did not lose consecutive matches again for the remainder of the season and followed every win with at least another victory, with four separate winning streaks of three or more contests. Even in defeat, the Sharks were extremely competitive, going the full five sets in four of the team's nine losses.
Grandpre owns a 75-64 (.540) career record, including 54-34 (.614) over the last three campaigns. His teams have been exceptional in league play, posting a 43-15 (.741) record in his five years at the helm on the Fenway campus. Under the Rhode Island native, Simmons advanced to the GNAC Championship match for the first time in school history in 2017, while putting together a school-record 12-match win streak that year. Grandpre has turned the Sharks into one of the best serving teams in the nation, consistently ranking among the nation's leaders, placing ninth among Division III schools in 2017, 11th following the 2015 campaign and 15th last year. He has coached 14 All-Conference performers, a Player of the Year and a Rookie of the Year during his time at Simmons.
Iannantuono is just the third first year in school history to earn Rookie of the Year accolades and the first since Emmee Ashby was the top choice in 2014. The outside hitter was also named to the GNAC Third Team this season. Iannantuono ranked 16th among GNAC leaders with 2.34 kills per set and owned the second-highest clip among first years. She proved to be one of the best all-around players in the league with exceptional passing skills, averaging 2.16 digs per set as one of just eight players and the only rookie in the conference to average at least 2.3 kills and 2.0 digs per set. The East Lyme High School graduate recorded double-digits in either kills or digs 17 times during the season and ranked second on the team with three double-doubles. Iannantuono was superb on service receptions for the squad, handling a team-high 498 serves, while owning a .940 success rate to top the team. She was the only newcomer to see time in all 28 matches and saw action in 101 sets, while owning a .131 hitting percentage and averaging 0.15 blocks per set with a total of 15 for the season. Iannantuono enjoyed a four-match stretch from September 5-14 with 10 or more kills, including a season-high of 14 in five sets vs. Wentworth Institute of Technology on September 5 and put down eight or more kills on 20 occasions. The Connecticut native stepped up in the GNAC Semifinals as well, spiking for 11 kills, while picking up a career-best 20 digs to go with a pair of blocks.
Weeg earns First Team honors for the third time in her career to become the first player in school history to achieve that feat since Nikki Peltz was named to the top team in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Weeg bounced back to form after missing all of last season due to injury and did not lose a step, leading the conference with 3.83 kills per set, while ranking 33rd among the nation's leaders. The outside hitter was also one of the most efficient offensive players in the conference, owning a .218 hitting percentage to rank 11th in the league. A graduate of Agua Fria High School, Weeg has been one of the most consistent hitters in the region, putting down double-digit kills in all but three matches this season, including 20 or more kills on four occasions. The two-year Captain spiked for a season-high 23 kills and added five digs and a block vs. Rivier University in the GNAC Semifinals on November 7. Weeg played in 102 of 103 sets over 28 matches and finished with 391 kills for the third-highest total in school history. She proved her worth on the defensive side of the net as well, picking up 0.82 digs and 0.18 blocks per set.
For her career, Weeg became just the second player in recorded school history to reach the 1,000-kill mark and later went on to become the program's all-time leader in kills and now has 1151 in three seasons. An Exercise Science major, Weeg is the only player in school annals to earn GNAC Rookie of the Year honors (2016) and Player of the Year recognition (2017). She has played in 287 sets over 82 matches, while owning a .226 hitting percentage and averaging 1.99 digs per set to go with 53 aces and 55 digs. Weeg was also selected to the New England Women's Volleyball Coaches Association All-Rookie Team.
Fortune lands on the Second Team for the second straight season after a season as one of the best middle blockers in the GNAC. The sophomore made the most of her offensive swings, ranking third among league leaders with a .354 hitting percentage and averaged 1.88 kills per set to place her 23rd, despite having at least 85 fewer attacks than anyone ranking ahead of her. The Round Rock High School product was the symbol of dependability and consistency for the Sharks, owning a .300 or better hitting percentage in 19 of 28 matches that she appeared in, including nine outings with a .500 or better mark. She put down 10 kills and committed just one miscue to fuel a .562 hitting percentage vs. University of Southern Maine on September 14 and posted a season-high clip of .867 with six kills in seven swings vs. Albertus Magnus College on October 12. Fortune was effective at the net as well, ranking 11th among league leaders with 0.56 blocks per set and placed 17th in the GNAC with 2.62 points per set. The Biology major was one of the few six-foot players in the conference to prove her worth from beyond the serving line as well, averaging 0.42 aces per set for a total of 43.
The second-year player has played in all 27 matches during her career for Simmons, while owning a .356 hitting mark in 209 sets to go with 1.92 kills per frame. She also has 94 career aces for 0.45 per set.
Gray-Williams moved into the role as the team's primary setter and did not disappoint, being named to the GNAC Second Team. The setter was one of the most dynamic offensive players in the conference, averaging 9.53 assists per set for the third-highest rate in the league to go with 0.51 aces per frame to rank seventh in the conference. The junior led the Sharks with nine double-doubles for the season and registered 10 or more digs on nine occasions, while averaging 2.13 digs per set for the third-highest rate on the team. Gray-Williams opened the season with a career-high of 54 assists in five sets vs. Morrisville State on August 30 and picked up 15 digs in just three sets at Emerson College on October 17 to go with 35 assists. The Sierra Vista High School product fired at least one ace in all but four of the 28 matches she appeared in and put together a string of 15 matches with at least one ace to close out the season. The Biology major matched her career best with six aces vs. Anna Maria College on October 16.
The three-year standout has played in 312 sets over 88 matches for Simmons, while averaging 5.87 assists, 1.90 digs, 0.46 aces and 0.94 kills per set on a .154 hitting mark. She was named to the GNAC All-Conference Third Team as a sophomore after being the only player in the league to average at least 2.15 kills, 3.88 assists, 2.25 digs, 0.35 aces and 0.37 blocks per set.
Lauvray proved to be one of the best liberos in the conference, being named Libero of the Week three times as the only player in school history to earn the award that many times and one of two players in the league to be tabbed at least three times this season. The junior earns Second Team honors after ranking third among conference leaders with 4.33 digs per set and 15th with 0.47 aces per set to give her 48 aces in 28 matches for the season. A graduate of Murrieta Vista High School, Lauvray is the only player on the squad to see action in all 103 sets and picked up double-digit digs in all but five matches, including eight outings with 20 or more. She picked up a career-high of 29 vs. Wentworth and fired multiple aces 11 times during the season. Lauvray served for a career-high six aces in three sets vs. Regis College on September 21. The defender turned in a .910 service reception rate for the third-best mark on the team was perfect on serve receptions four times during the campaign.
The West Coast native has played in 304 sets over 87 matches in her three seasons for the Sharks, while averaging 2.64 digs to give her a total of 802 for her career. She also has 92 career aces.