(Posted November 24, 2008)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College senior outside hitter Amber Thomas (Ephrata, Pa./Conestoga Valley) has been named the ESPN The Magazine College Division Women's Volleyball Academic All-America of the Year and a First team Academic All-America, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Thomas, a communications major with a secondary emphasis in English, is Juniata's 19th Academic All-American overall, and only the fifth to earn First team Academic All-America honors. She is the second Eagle women's volleyball player to be named Academic All-America of the Year in the sport as well as a First team Academic All-America; former standout Carli Dale received the same combination of honors in 2004.

The award comes on the heels of Thomas earning American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive year, at last Wednesday's honors banquet in conjunction with the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championships in Bloomington, Ill. Thomas also earned First team All-America honors from the AVCA for the third year in a row; she was a third team All-America honoree as a freshman, and joined former women's volleyball standout Christy Orndorff as the only Juniata College student-athletes to earn All-America honors all four years of her athletic career.

Thomas finished the season with 385 kills (3.81/set) to go with 218 digs (2.16/set) and 43 total blocks (0.43/set). She also tallied 17 service aces during the season, and accounted for nearly a fifth of Juniata's points this season.

For her career, Thomas ranks fourth among Juniata's all-time kills leaders with 1,734.

Academically, Thomas is a three-time Dean's list student and was inducted into the National Honors Communication Society this past spring. She was a member of the Landmark Conference Academic Honor Roll (Fall 2007) and Commonwealth Academic Honor Roll (Fall 2006), and served as a teaching-assistant for the course "Introduction of Human Communication" during the Fall 2007 semester.

Juniata finished the season with a 35-5 overall record, and reached the national semifinals of the Division III Women's Volleyball Championship for the 23rd time in program history. The Eagles won their 28th consecutive conference championship this season, defeating Susquehanna University, 3-0, for the 2008 Landmark Conference championship.

The ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America teams are selected by CoSIDA's Academic All-America committee and Board of Directors. The College Division represents all NCAA Division II and III, NAIA, and two-year colleges in the United States.

To be selected for the national team, a student-athlete had to have been selected to its District's first team. Initial nomination criteria includes being a varsity starter or key reserve, maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 or higher on a 4.00 scale, and have sophomore or higher athletic and academic standing at their current institution.


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Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.