GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Deserving of the honors, seniors Jensen Barton and Lauren Jacobsen, redshirt sophomore Brittni Dorsey and freshman Abby Akin were recognized by the league's head coaches on Wednesday with spots on the All-Big Sky teams. Barton and Jacobsen were voted to the First Team, while Dorsey and Akin were selected to the Second Team. Akin was also named the conference's Outstanding Freshman. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.
Barton joined former teammates Janae Vander Ploeg and Payton Bock as the only two-time All-Big Sky First Team honorees in program history. One of three repeat First Team selections from a year ago, Barton collected her third overall all-conference honor becoming the 10th Lumberjack to do so.
Barton finished the regular season sixth in the conference with 10.01 assists per set and set NAU to a Big Sky leading .260 hitting percentage. She once again showcased herself as one of the Big Sky's best all-around setters, averaging career-highs of 1.74 kills and 2.78 digs per set along with a .361 hitting percentage, which ranks second in the conference. The Phoenix, Ariz. product recorded three of the five triple-doubles in the conference this season and is tied for fourth in the Big Sky with 16 double-doubles. She rounded out her season totals with 84 blocks and 32 aces.
Jacobsen elevated her game to another level and as a result rose from a Second Team selection in 2015 to her first career First Team nod this fall. Jacobsen and Barton provided NAU with multiple players on the First Team for the third straight year.
Jacobsen was one of the conference's top attackers all season and enters Thursday's conference tournament opener ranked second in the conference at 4.05 kills per set. Like Barton, the outside hitter set new career-highs this season in kills and digs with Jacobsen averaging 3.54 digs per set. Her 382 total digs are tied for the team-lead and her 20 double-doubles are tied for first in the conference. She raised her hitting percentage for the third straight year, currently at .251 and two weeks ago she became the sixth player in school history to tally both 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs.
Dorsey garnered her first career all-conference honor on the heels of a breakout second season. The middle blocker from Quartz Hill, Calif. was the driving force behind NAU's No. 2 national ranking in service aces and raised her play at the net during the conference season.
Dorsey is one ace shy of tying the single season school record for aces, ranking third in the country with 60 and easily the most in the conference. Her ace average of 0.59 is also in line to set a new school record as well. In conference play, Dorsey averaged 1.40 blocks per set, which ranked second, and for the season she is averaging 1.18 blocks – up from her average of 0.88 last season. She also nearly doubled her kill average to an even 1.00 per set and hit .265 offensively.
Akin is NAU's first Big Sky Outstanding Freshman recipient since Bock received the award in 2012. She is the eighth player in school history to be voted the conference's top freshman and deservedly so for her performance this season in filling Bock's production on the court.
Akin made her name known from the get-go as she recorded 11 blocks against Central Florida in just her fourth career match – the first of two occasions in which she hit the double-digit block mark this season. The Phoenix Ariz. native currently ranks seventh in the conference with 1.13 blocks per set, while her 121 blocks are fifth in the Big Sky. As big of a defensive force Akin has been in helping NAU lead the conference in opponent hitting percentage (.155), she has also made an impact offensively ranking third individually with a .361 hitting percentage – just percentage points behind Barton – and 1.48 kills per set. In conference play, she led all players with a .381 clip.