MSU’s Stokes named Midwest Region Coach of the Year

Missouri State’s Emily ButtersLily JohnsonLynsey Wright and Melissa Stokes were recognized Tuesday (Dec. 5) by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, with MSU placing three players on the all-Midwest Region First Team for the first time in school history and Stokes being selected as the Midwest Region Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Johnson is MSU’s first four-time all-region pick, while Butters and Wright are the school’s 20th and 21st selections overall.

The Midwest Region includes schools from the Missouri Valley, Atlantic 10, Big 12, Big Sky, Mid-American, Ohio Valley, and Western Athletic conferences, as well as The Summit League.

The Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year for a third straight season and four-time first-team all-MVC pick, Johnson is the first player to lead the MVC in kills in four consecutive seasons, finishing the year with averages of 4.52 kills and 3.91 digs per set with 40 aces and 51 total blocks. The senior outside hitter from Wildwood, Mo., ranks second nationally with 574 total kills and 646.5 total points.

Johnson tallied 28 matches with at least 10 kills and 24 double-doubles this year, with four matches of at least 20 kills and 20 digs, an MSU single-season record. She is one of 10 players in NCAA history with at least 2,200 kills and 1,500 digs in a career, and finished her illustrious career ranked second in NCAA history in career attacks (6,610), third in consecutive sets played (519), and 19th in kills (2,293), all MSU and MVC records.

Butters posted one of the top defensive seasons in MSU history as the MVC Libero of the Year. The Richmond, Texas, native set MSU single-season records with 5.80 digs per set and 737 total digs, third-most in league history. The junior had at least 10 digs in 33 of MSU’s 34 matches with 23 outings of 20 of more. A four-time MVC Defensive Player of the Week in 2017, Butters had 44 digs on Oct. 13 at Drake, the second-highest total in Missouri State and fifth-best in Valley history.

Wright ranked fourth in the MVC in hitting percentage at .320, ninth in points (3.65) and 10th in kills (3.20) per set as a first-team all-conference pick. The senior middle blocker had 26 matches with at least 10 kills and two with 20 or more, hitting .300 or better in 22 matches and eclipsing the .400 mark 10 times. A native of Glen Carbon, Ill., Wright was the MVC Player of the Week on Sept. 5, and led MSU in kills six times this season while owning high blocking honors on 14 occasions, averaging 0.69 stuffs per set for the year. She ended her career ranked eighth in MSU history in both kills (1,346) and attack efficiency (.297).

Stokes guided the Bears to MVC regular-season and tournament championships, a perfect 18-0 league record, a top-25 national ranking and the school’s third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Missouri State’s final 28-6 record represents the program’s highest win total since 1982.