December 2, 2021
The Cowley College volleyball team saw three players recognized by the NJCAA as All-Americans. Sophomore Iva Halacheva and freshman Rossana Papa were selected a first-team All-American and freshman Rachele Tessari was selected a second-team All-American. The selections brought Cowley’s total All-American award count to 40 honors spread across 29 players. It marks the 18th straight season with an All-American selection.
“We are very proud of Iva, Rossana and Rachele on being honored with All-American awards.” Cowley coach Steven Gream said. “It is such a joy to see these quality athletes be recognized among the many talented athletes in the NJCAA and even our tough conference. They put in the work all season to improve each day and all three would say they could not have earned this honor without their teammates. They and their teammates worked so hard this year and these honors are a testament of a total 'Team First' attitude where each player worked for and played for each other.”
Halacheva, the sophomore outside hitter from Plovdiv, Bulgaria, was the Jayhawk Conference Eastern Division Most Valuable Player and the MVP of the Triton Invitational. She finished the 2021 season with 605 kills at 4.65 kills per set, a .450 hitting percentage, and 71 service aces at 0.55 aces per set. Her 605 kills placed her third in the nation, her 4.65 kills per set placed her seventh in the nation, her .450 hitting percentage was third in the nation, and she was ranked fourth in the nation in total points at 694, and seventh nationally in points per set at 5.3. She led the region in kills, kills per set, points, points per set, and in hitting percentage. She finished fourth in total aces and fifth in aces per set. Halacheva became the third players to reach 1,000 career kills at Cowley College, became the third player to reach 600 kills in one season and finished third in single season kills at 605, became the all-time kills leader in a career with 1,583 kills and she also became the all-time leader in kills per set in a career at 4.71 kills per set. She finished fifth all-time in hitting percentage with a .380 hitting percentage, finished fourth all-time in service aces with 145, and finished third in Cowley history in single-season hitting percentage at .450.
Halacheva was named All-American by Volleyballmag.com, NJCAA Offensive Player of the Week, and a nine-time KJCCC Offensive Player of the Week, named NJCAA Great Plains District A First Team All-District and KJCCC First Team All-Conference, and was named to the NJCAA National Tournament All-Tournament team.
“Iva was an outside hitter that came back to our program after two decorated seasons,” Gream said. “She didn't settle on her previous success and was always working to improve her game. Iva served as a leader on the court and was a determined player who brought power, consistency, and strong all-around skills. She was already one of the top hitters in the nation but these adjustments and additions made her one of the top players in the nation on one of the top offenses in the nation.”
Papa, a native of Brescia, Italy finished with 1,539 assists at 11.84 assists per set, 56 kills, 268 digs at 2.06 digs per set, and 95 aces at 0.73 aces per set. Her 1,539 assists placed her third in the nation and her 11.84 assists per set was tops in the nation. She was also first in the region in total assists and assists per set, total aces, and in aces per set.
Papa was also selected to the All-District, and All-Conference first teams, was named KJCCC Setter of the Year, was named Best Setter at the Triton Invitational, and was named to the Cowley Invitational All-Tournament and Triton Invitational All-Tournament teams. She was also named the top-setter at the Triton Invitational. She was KJCCC Setter of the Week five times in 2021. Her 1,539 assists places her third in Cowley history in assists in a season and eighth in career assists in Cowley history. Her 11.84 assists per set places her third on the career list in Cowley history and her 95 aces places her 13th on the career aces list.
“Rossana was a setter that came in with a great amount of talent and adjusted very quickly to our offense and style of play” Gream Said. “She has great footwork, court awareness, hand strength, and tempo with her sets to do great things on the floor. However, she brings the things you can’t teach to the table with her high volleyball IQ and her athletic ability. Our offense was as successful as it was because of those skills. On top of her great setting abilities, Rossana was one of the top servers in the nation that set the tone in our matches with our aggressive serving. Her 95 aces is third in Cowley history for aces in a season and was another reason we were so successful in 2021.”
Tessari, the freshman opposite hitter from San Bonifacio, Italy, finished the 2021 with 315 kills at 2.42 kills per set, 330 digs at 2.54 digs per set, 91 aces, and a hitting percentage of .301. She finished fourth in the nation in total aces, eighth in the region in total kills, 17th in kills per set, sixth in hitting percentage, second in aces, and second in aces per set. Her 91 aces places her fourth all time in Cowley history with total aces in a season. Tessari was named First team All-District, Second team All-Conference, KJCCC Offensive Player of the Week once, and was named to the NJCAA National Tournament All-Tournament team.
“Rachele came to our program and brought a competitive swagger to our team. She hates to lose and brought that mentality to our team and play on the court.” Gream said. “Her all-around skills provided great balance to our offense and anchored our defense, plus she added one of the top serves in the nation. On offense her powerful and consistent arm swing allowed her to keep defenses honest while her ‘libero like’ defensive skills allowed her to shut down opponents and provide a solid pass to our setters.”
Six Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference athletes were selected All-American — Maddie Steiner and Carley Spachman from Johnson County and Cassidy Crist from Kansas City Kansas were the others