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Rio Grande’s Walker earns MSC All-Acdemic honors

FRANKFORT, Ky. — One of the University of Rio Grande’s top players on the court is one of the league’s best off the court.

Rio Grande RedStorm junior middle blocker Rachel Walker has not only been a big key in the team’s volleyball turnaround this season, but she was honored by the Mid-South Conference for her work in the classroom.

The former three-sport standout a Ironton High School was one of four Rio Grande players named to the league’s All-Academic team Monday at the Mid-South Conference Tournament banquet.

Also named All-Academic were juniors Ashley Bloom of Columbus and Katie Moore of Lancaster and sophomore Kristen Cassady of Logan.

“I think that it’s great that (the conference) recognizes all the athletes for their work in the classroom as well as on the court,” said Walker.

“They didn’t announce they were giving the awards until before the banquet, so it was a nice surprise.”

On the court, Rio Grande 6-foot-2 freshman Erin Sherman of South Webster was named to the all-league team and was the MSC Freshman of the Year.

Named All-MSC honorable mention were Jacquie Whittle of Chillicothe Unioto and Whitney Smith of Albany Alexander.

A total of 44 players were honored on the all-academic team among the eight teams. Student/athletes must have a sophomore or higher standing and carry a 3.25 grade point average or higher.

An English major in pre-law, the 6-foot Walker had 11 kills against Pikeville on Tuesday as Rio Grande won its opening round game in the tournament 23-25, 25-17, 26-24 and 25-12. She also had two solo blocks and three block assists.

Rio Grande plays Campbellsville at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals at the Frankfort Civic Center. The championship match is set for 6 p.m.

Tuesday’s performance came on the heels of an outstanding weekend that saw the RedStorm beat Houghton and Roberts Wesleyan but lost to Point Park.

Walker had nine kills against Houghton and 10 against Point Park. She had six kills, one block and two assisted blocks against Roberts Wesleyan.

Besides volleyball, Walker has been a two-year letter-winner in track. Walker — one of the fastest players on the track team — ran anchor on the 4×100 relay while throwing the discus and hammer.

Rio Grande is 18-18 on the season under coach Billina Donaldson after winning just seven games last year. The RedStorm was third in the conference regular season at 9-5.