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LEC: Four Eastern Athletes are Feted

 Sports of volleyball, soccer and cross country are represented


Karahalios (far left), Labanara

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Four female athletes representing the sports of cross country, volleyball and soccer represent Eastern Connecticut State University in the second weekly Little East Conference awards program for the week of Sept. 9-15.

Junior Kelly Labanara (Chaplin) was named Runner-of-the-Week in cross country, sophomore defender Gia Karahalios (South Windsor) Defensive Player-of-the-Week in soccer and in volleyball, senior libero Erynn Miller (Stratford) repeated as Defensive Player-of the-Week and freshman outside hitter Adrianna Mihalek (Woodbury) Rookie-of-the-Week.

Labanara becomes the first-ever Eastern women's cross country runner named as the LEC's Runner-of-the-Week. After running mihalek_72_4408.jpgas the team's No. 5 runner as a sophomore in 2012, the third-year competitor led the Warriors at the finish for the second time in as many meets when the Warriors defeated visiting Bridgewater State University and U. of Saint Joseph (CT)   at Mansfield Hollow State Park this past Saturday. Over the 5,000 meter course, Labanara was second overall among 22 runners in a time of 20:36. In the first meet of the season Sept. 7 at the Trinity College Invitational, Labanara was 12th  overall in a field of 93.

Only the sixth solo captain in the volleyball program's 39-year history, Miller successfully handled 33 of 35 reception attempts for a .943 percentage as the Warriors won two of three matches (by sweep) at the Trinity College Invitational this past weekend. Defensively, Miller led Eastern with 61 digs in nine sets for a 6.78 average.

Mihalek (left), Miller (below)

Against homestanding Wesleyan University in the tournament, Miller was perfect on 13 receptions and dug up a team-high 19 balls, and in three sets the next day against regionally-ranked Trinity College, had 23 digs for an
average of nearly eight per set. With 189 digs in 34 sets this year, Miller has totaled nearly 100 more digs than her closest teammate, averaging 5.56 digs per set. She also leads all players with 180 reception and has a .911 reception percentage.

The 5-foot-8 inch Miller leads the conference in total digs (189) miller_72_4439.jpgand digs per set (5.56), averaging 1.24 digs per set more than her nearest conference competitor.

At 5-foot-8 inches tall, Mihalek had nearly twice as many kills (44) and averaged nearly twice as many points per set as any of her teammates when Eastern won two of three matches at Trinity. The former two-time All-State player at Holy Cross HS  attacked at .258 in nine tournament sets, handled a team-high 42 receptions and was second on the team with 31 digs (3.44 per set).

In a sweep of Wesleyan University in the tournament-opener, Mihalek amassed 16 kills with just one error for a .517 attack percentage and also led Eastern with 18 reception attempts and was second on the team with 12 digs. She also served two service aces. In a sweep of Bridgewater State University, Mihalek had nine kills in her first 19 swings and did not commit an error  on her first 26 attempts.

With an average of 3.53 kills per set, Mihalek leads the LEC in that category (0.62 more than her nearest conference competitor) and also tops the conference in points per set (3.88) and total points (139 ½).

Behind Miller and Mihalek, the Warriors (4-6 record)  lead the LEC in kills (391) and kills per set (10.86) and are second in digs per set (15.14). The two also rank 1-2 on the team in reception attempts with 180 and 166, respectively. Miller has a success percentage of .911, Mihalek .904.

Last year's LEC Rookie-of-the-Year and the conference's only first-team All-LEC freshman selection, Karahalios helped the Warriors to a 1-0 road overtime shutout of 2012 NCAA qualifier Westfield State University in the team's only match of last week.

A center back, Karahalios is second on the team in minutes, having played  all but 44 minutes for the 4-1-0 Warriors. Eastern has given up only one goal all season, none in four shutouts against New England opponents. Previously in her career, Karahalios was selected as LEC Rookie-of-the-Week once as a freshman.

The selections bring to seven the number of Eastern athletes honored this season by the conference. In addition to Miller last week, women's soccer senior defender Megan Godwin (Manchester) was cited as Defensive Player-of-the-Week (also gaining an identical honor with the ECAC) and freshman midfielder Nicholas Warren (Southbury) was tabbed as men's soccer Rookie-of-the-Week.

The volleyball team visits Salve Regina University for a non-conference match Tuesday at 4 p.m. On Saturday, the cross country team competes in the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Invitational Saturday and the women's soccer team opens its Little East season with a 1 p.m. kickoff at Western Connecticut State University.


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