WATERTOWN, Wis. -- The final NCCAA All-America selections have been released, and 6 Maranatha student-athletes have made the cut for the NCCAA's highest playing honor.
The All-American selections for volleyball and soccer are determined by the coaches at the national tournament. Student-Athletes must have been selected to the all-region teams in order to be eligible for All-America status.
For Cross Country, it is straightforward: the first 5 runners to cross the finish line at NCCAA Nationals are subsequently named All-American.
Of the 6 that were selected, Maranatha landed 3 on the first team and 3 on the second team. Student-Athletes from 4 different teams made the list. Women's Soccer and Women's Volleyball highlighted the list with 2 selections each.
For a complete list of the NCCAA All-Americans from Maranatha, click here
Lexi Bueltel (WVB - 1st Team) finished a standout career by earning her second consecutive All-America selection. The senior from Michigan led the Sabercats to their third consecutive NCCAA DII title and was named to the all-tournament team at Nationals. Bueltel also broke into the Maranatha program career-record categories. She registered 1,028 kills (8th), 339 total blocks (5th), 1,382 points (9th), 140 aces (8th), and 138 matches played (5th), to name a few.
Ali Hernandez (WSOC - 1st Team) earned the 1st-Team after earning 2nd Team honors twice in a row. The junior helped control the middle of the field for the Sabercats this year, and despite battling injuries, added 3 goals and 4 assists from a reserved position. Hernandez took home NCCAA Region Player of the Year honors and scored the only goal for the Sabercats in the NCCAA Regional Championship against Providence.
Cameron Rankin (MXC - 1st Team) completed his junior year with an exclamation point. Rankin set a PR with a time of 28:32 at NCCAA Nationals, which was good enough for a 5th-place finish at the season finale. That was Rankin's third top-20 finish and his second career top 10 at Nationals.
Nathan Akers (MSOC - 2nd Team) tallied 6 goals and 4 assists and was second on the team in points. Akers scored game-winning goals against Rockford, Lakeland, and Emmaus this season, and consistently threatened the opposing goal from a center-forward position. Akers finishes his four-year career with 12 goals, 9 assists, and 43 shots on target.
Katie Bender (WVB - 2nd Team) was phenomenal all year at the libero position. Bender has twice been named the NCCAA North Region Libero of the Year and has already broken into the program record books after just 2 seasons. Bender's mark of 1,290 career digs lands her at the 9th spot all-time in Maranatha program history, and the Green Bay native finished the year 4th in the NCCAA for digs per set.
Alexis Sponable (WSOC - 2nd Team) was a bona fide scoring threat on the Sabercats' front line this season. She finished 7th in Maranatha program history for goals in a season, and her 16-goal campaign included 5 game-winning goals and a stretch of 5 consecutive games on the scoresheet. Sponable tallied three hat-tricks on the season, including all the goals in 3-1 wins over Faith Baptist and Rockford. Sponable hit Finlandia for 4 goals on Sep. 28, which was just the 6th time that has been done by a Maranatha player.
For more about the NCCAA, visit thenccaa.org.