The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) got a brief glimpse at the Saint Mary's University volleyball team's not-so-secret weapon — outside hitter Ciarra McNally, of Lewiston— during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
In 2021, the conference felt the full impact of McNally's presence on the volleyball court.
And McNally certainly made a lasting impression — being named First-Team All-MIAC, when the league office announced its post-season awards Wednesday.
McNally closed out her sophomore campaign playing in all 11 conference matches, recording 159 kills and 108 digs, while also chipping in seven assists and eight aces. In 27 overall matches, McNally compiled a team-leading 331 kills — fourth among conference players — and was second on the team in digs with 192. She also posted 17 aces, 14 assists, and 28 blocks.
The sophomore outside hitter recorded a program-record 32 kills in the Cardinals' 3-2 victory against Carleton College on Sept. 15. McNally's 32 kills against Carleton were not only a career-high, but also a single-match, program record — breaking the previous mark of 31, set by Brandi Blattner on Oct. 21, 2016. McNally, who also posted a career-high in digs (18) in the Cardinals' 3-1 win over the College of St. Scholastica on Oct. 1, recorded 10 kills or more kills 18 times — including five matches of 20 of more kills — and posted six kill-dig double-doubles.
Gustavus Adolphus College’s Katie Holtan was named the MIAC's Player of the Year, while Jenna Rubbelke of Hamline University was the league's Rookie of the Year, and Hailey Embacher of Gustavus and St. Scholastica's Alicia Draper shared MIAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Hamline coach Maggie Meixl, who guided the Pipers to a third-place conference finish and their first MIAC Tournament appearance since 2013, was tabbed the MIAC Coach of the Year.
As part of a conference-wide sportsmanship initiative, the MIAC also announced the annual All-MIAC Sportsmanship team for volleyball, which included Saint Mary's Grace Gilles, of Apple Valley, Minn. Members of the All-MIAC Sportsmanship team are selected by their coaches and teammates as individuals who demonstrate ideals of positive sportsmanship both on and off the field of competition.