Pair of Golden Eagles named to All-Sun Belt team

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 1:01 AM CST
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Southern Miss Sports Information

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Southern Miss sophomore outside hitter Mia Wesley was named First Team All-Sun Belt by the conference office Tuesday afternoon. Sophomore Cara Atkinson picked up Second Team All-Sun Belt honors as voted on by the league’s 14 head coaches.

Wesley finished the regular season with 494 kills and averaged a scorching 4.62 kills per set. The Orem, Utah native needs 34 kill to surpass Tosha Barnicoat (1997) for most kills by a sophomore.

Welsey’s offensive numbers ranked her first in both total kills and kills per set amongst Sun Belt players. She also ended the regular season leading the conference in service aces (73), service aces per set (.68), points (586.5) and points per set (5.48).

“Mia is a tireless worker who is always seeking to improve her game in every way she can,” said Southern Miss head coach Jenny Hazelwood. “That drive and determination is what makes her such a consistent high-level player. Mia is also the kind of player that can handle any high-pressure situation.

“When the match is on the line, we know that we can go to her consistently. Her ability to score as an attacker and from the service line has been consistent and she has had top numbers in the country all season long. This just shows her drive to keep being the best she can be for our team.”

Wesley was a two-time Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week. She smacked a season-high 31 kills against Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 9. Wesley recorded double-digit kills in 25 of her 28 matches and had nine double-doubles.

She had six matches with at least five aces, including a career-high eight against Georgia State on Oct. 28. Nationally, Wesley ranks third in aces per set, attacks per set and points. She ranks fourth in total attacks, fifth in total kills, and seventh in points per set. Wesley is second in total service aces.

Atkinson played a dynamic role for Southern Miss as the middle blocker finished with 256 total kills. She averaged 2.56 kills per set and was second on the team in service aces (38).

The Gardendale, Ala. native led the Golden Eagles in total blocks with 69.0. She averaged .69 per set and was the only Golden Eagle with double-digit solo blocks (17).

“Cara is a remarkable athlete who strives to be the best in all phases of her game every day,” Hazelwood said. “Her work ethic has led to her becoming a go-to and elite attacker. As a middle, she is someone that can be relied upon to score, even when teams key in on blocking her. Cara is also one of the leaders of our team who helps keep us all on the same page, keeps everybody laughing, and just makes it fun in the gym every single day.”

Atkinson’s presence on the court was forefront last week in a 3-2 win at Old Dominion. The 6-foot-2 leader had a career-high 20 kills on 31 attempts to finish with a .484 hitting percentage.

Atkinson had at least 10 kills in 14 matches. Her .319 hitting percentage this season ranks her sixth in the Sun Belt Conference.

The Golden Eagles kickoff Sun Belt Tournament play on Thursday, Nov. 17 against Georgia Southern at 2:30 p.m.

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