After finishing her fourth year as a national champion, Lee University senior forward Jamie Achten repeated as the NAIA women's soccer player of the year, and sophomore midfielder Leah Fortune and junior defender Amy Cochran joined her from the Lady Flames on the NAIA All-America first team announced Monday. Lee's Ode Fulutidulu and Laura Thacker were second-team selections, and Ashley Aragona and Carolina Scales received honorable mention. Achten, a first-team choice for the third time to go with second-team status in 2009, said Saturday night after the Lady Flames completed their historic fourth consecutive title, "It's absolutely incredible. I feel so worn out and so tired, but God had so much grace on me and the team. We worked our butts off every single day with that goal in mind. Even since my freshman year when we first won, it was always like, 'We can do more -- we could win all four,' and it actually happened." The NAIA's all-time leader in career assists, Achten set a tournament record with five in Lee's second-round win. The Lady Flames went 90-7-3 in her four seasons.
Ooltewah's Bridgette O'Brien signed volleyball scholarship papers Monday with Bryan College. O'Brien had gone to see one of the Lady Lions' home matches in Dayton, Tenn., a couple of weeks before taking her official visit about halfway through her senior season. Bryan coach David Shumaker first noticed her at last season's Tennessee Tandem tournament at GPS. "I loved the campus, everybody was really nice, and I liked the way Coach Shumaker ran practice," O'Brien said. "He said he was interested in me because I'm an outside hitter who can also play back row. That's what I'm hoping to improve on during my club season." O'Brien helped the Lady Owls reach a Class AAA state sectional. "Bridgette has been a great asset to our volleyball program here at Ooltewah," coach Elaine Peigen said. "We hate to see her go. She's a hard hitter and she's aggressive." O'Brien, who plans to study communications at Bryan with a goal of becoming a speech and language patholigist, totaled 261 kills and 219 digs last season and also served 49 aces. "Bridgette is a good all-around player with all-around skills," Shumaker said. "She's position-flexible and can play all the way around the court. She's also a very good student, and at Bryan College we love great students."
The Lee University volleyball team completed its second straight third-place NAIA national finish and went 34-3 with two of the losses to the national champion Texas-Brownsville Scorpions, yet the Lady Flames did not place anyone on the All-America first, second or third teams. The extremely balanced group coached by Andrea and Kevin Hudson -- two Lee setters have very comparable statistics, for instance -- had four outside hitters on the honorable-mention list, including senior Arlene Ferreira, who was a first-team All-American in 2010 but was hampered by injury this year. The others were senior Christa Hutchison, sophomore Irene Ojukwu and freshman Marija Zelenovic.