The Blinn College volleyball team has a national championship to add to its résumé this season, and now three of its players can add another accomplishment to their personal portfolios.
Sophomores Bruna Evangelista and Crystal Young were named first-team NJCAA All-Americans, and Kariana Castanon-Hill was named an All-American honorable mention for their season-long contributions to the top-ranked Buccaneers.
“They were all big contributors all year on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball,” coach Erin Mellinger said, whose team won its second national title in three years after a 39-3 season. “It’s a big honor and it’s well deserved for all three of them.”
It’s the second year Evangelista has claimed All-American honors, who was named to the second team as a freshman. As dominant as she was then –– she averaged 3.1 kills/set with a .350 hitting percentage –– Evangelista ranked among the best hitters in the nation as a sophomore. When the Buccaneers needed a spark, she was often there to send a ball buzzing to the court.
She averaged nearly a kill more per set (4.0) and upped her hitting percentage to .415. Through the Bucs’ 42 games, Evangelista had 25 games with a hitting percentage of at least .400 or above and seven games with at least 20 kills.
Arguably one of her best performances of the season came in the NJCAA National Championship game against Tyler when she posted 23 kills, only two errors and hit at a .477 clip.
She was named the national tournament MVP.
“I expected her to come in and have a good season, and she did that,” Mellinger said, adding that four-year universities are heavily recruiting Evangelista. “It’s pretty neat to have a two-time All-American on your team.”
Setter Crystal Young was there setting up those kill attempts for Evangelista and Castanon-Hill.
Young dished out 1,546 assists this season, a single-season assist record, and averaged nearly 11 assists per set. Young broke the mark, originally set by Megan Loftin (1,410) in 2006, at the national tournament against Gadsden State (Ala.) in the Bucs’ tournament opener.
“We wouldn’t have been able to run our offense without a setter of her caliber,” Mellinger said. “And not only that, she has really good ball-control.”
Young’s contributions on the court were more than setting up Blinn’s hitters. She ran the Bucs’ offense and was an emotional leader who helped energize the team when it began to fall flat.
Castanon-Hill was a late in-conference transfer from Paris Junior College. She proved that although she had the hitting skills, she held the ability to disrupt opposing offenses with her blocking. No block was more detrimental to an opponent than when Castanon-Hill blocked a kill from Tyler’s Jordan McArdle to clinch the national championship for Blinn.
“She was really blown away. It’s always been a goal of hers to be named an All-American, and she achieved that,” Mellinger said.
Castanon-Hill averaged 2.5 kills/set and 1.2 blocks/set, and 188 total blocks on the season –– 39 solo, 149 assisted.
“I’m so proud of these three,” Mellinger said. “From where we finished, what they did this year, the goals they accomplished and the leadership they provided on a physical and emotional level, having them named All-Americans is so well-deserved, and I’m so happy for them.”
For more information on Blinn volleyball, visit www.buccaneersports.com.
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide detailed information.