Wisconsin setter Lauren Carlini was named the 87th 2017 AAU James E. Sullivan Award winner as the most outstanding U.S. amateur athlete who also demonstrates premier leadership, character and sportsmanship at a reception Tuesday night at the New York Athletic Club.

She is the first volleyball player to win the award.

At the same time, the Barton men’s volleyball team was beating Mount Olive to take win the Conference Carolinas regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the league’s postseason tournament.

And the Southern Illinois Salukis are looking for a new head coach. Justin Ingram left for Illinois-Chicago (UIC), replacing Katie Schumacher-Cawley, who took the job at Penn in February.

Carlini honored: Carlini, the only four-time All-American in Wisconsin volleyball history, was joined by six other finalists, all Olympic gold medalists, Kayla Harrison, judo; Laurie Hernandez, gymnastics; Ashleigh Johnson, water polo; Kyle Snyder, wrestling; Aly Raisman, gymnastics; and Ginny Thrasher, target shooting.

“I’m honored to be a part of this group,” Carlini said during her acceptance speech. “Everyone knows them as amazing athletes but they are even more amazing people.

“I’m honored to be the first volleyball player to win this award. I hope that this starts gaining popularity for the sport. Volleyball’s growing and gaining popularity so I hope this kind of keeps it going.

“I hope in three years that I get what every single one of these guys have, an Olympic gold medal.”

The Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Representatives from the AAU created the Sullivan Award with the intent to recognize contributions and achievements across the country of amateur athletes.

Carlini, from Aurora, Ill., was named the 2014 Big Ten Conference player of the year and earned four first-team all-conference awards. She was a two-time Big Ten setter of the year and was named the 2013 Big Ten freshman of the year. What’s more, Carlini was a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and earned Academic All-America honors in 2016.

Lauren Carlini makes a save for Wisconsin in the 2013 NCAA Championships/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Lauren Carlini makes a save for Wisconsin in the 2013 NCAA Championships/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

During her four seasons, the Badgers qualified for four straight NCAA tournaments, advancing to at least the round of eight each year. Wisconsin competed in the championship match in 2013 and lost to the eventual NCAA champions three different years. UW also never finished lower than fourth in the Big Ten standings in her four years, winning the championship in 2014.

Barton No. 1 in ConfCarolinas: The Bulldogs beat Mount Olive 25-16, 25-22, 25-13 to improve to 20-5 overall, 16-2 in the CC. King is also 16-2, but Barton held the tiebreaker. The regular-season championship is the first in Barton’s six-year history of the men’s volleyball program.

King beat North Greenville in three on Tuesday to finish 27-3, 16-2.

As a result, Barton will play host to No. 8 seed Erskine (4-20, 4-14) on Tuesday, while King will entertain North Greenville (8-18, 7-11) again.

In the other two quarterfinals, No. 5 Belmont Abbey (9-16, 8-10) goes to No. 4 Limestone (12-10, 12-6) and No. 6 Lees-McRae (10-16, 8-10) goes to No. 3 Mount Olive (16-9, 14-4).

The winner of the Conference Carolinas tournament gets one of the six NCAA tournament spots and will likely be part of the two play-in matches. The MPSF, MIVA and EIVA also get automatic bids with two others from the four conferences getting at-large bids.

Ingram moves north: Ingram was the coach at SIU for five seasons, winning 20 more matches four times. He was the 2015 coach of the year in the Missouri Valley Conference, which recently took a huge volleyball hit when Wichita State left for the American Athletic Conference.

Last season, SIU finished 21-12, 12-6 in the Missouri Valley, before losing in the first round of the MVC tournament. The UIC Flames were 16-14, 4-12 in the Horizon League.

Ingram, a 1995 graduate of Iowa State, has success as the head coach at Arkansas State and before that was an assistant at Houston and Kansas State.


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