MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Phia Bellizzi and Nicole Hilton of the 25th-ranked Wesleyan volleyball team have been named All-Americans by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), as selected by the AVCA Division III All-America Committee. Bellizzi was named to the Second Team while Hilton earned Honorable Mention.
Bellizzi, the 2019 NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year, earns her second consecutive All-America honor as she was named to the Third Team a year ago. She is the third Cardinal ever to receive All-America praise and the first to earn it twice. Hilton was named a Second Team All-American in 2017 and is the fifth Wesleyan volleyball player to earn Honorable Mention while becoming the first-ever to earn both accolades in a career. Wesleyan has now earned an All-America Team selection and an Honorable Mention in each of the past three seasons.
Bellizzi is one of 14 athletes on the Second Team and one of three liberos – there were no liberos selected to the First Team. The junior from Ladera Ranch, Calif. has been a key piece to the Cardinals' success since joining the program as a freshman, while the 2019 season proved to be her best year yet. Bellizzi, who was also named an AVCA All-Northeast Region and First Team All-NESCAC selection, ranks 14th in NCAA Division III with 6.06 digs per set and leads a defensive unit that ranks 15th in the country in total digs per set with 19.63. She also concludes the season ranked second on the team in total assists with 105.
Hilton capped off an incredible career with an All-America Honorable Mention and will go down as one of the greatest volleyball players ever to don a Wesleyan uniform. An All-Northeast Region and All-NESCAC First Team selection, she finished the 2019 campaign ranked in the top-10 in the NESCAC in five categories; second in blocks (1.00/set), third in points (3.8/set), third in solo blocks (20), fifth in hitting percentage (.343), and 10th in kills (2.87/set). Hilton concludes her career with 846 total kills and 282 blocks while recording a career hitting percentage of .323. The senior from Wantagh, N.Y. hit over .300 in each of her four seasons and set career-highs this year in kills per set, hitting percentage, digs per set, blocks per set, and points per set.
Bellizzi and Hilton were instrumental to Wesleyan's success this season in which the Cardinals posted their third-straight 20-win campaign while reaching the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive year. Wesleyan set a program record for fewest losses in a season as it went 21-5 overall and 9-1 in the NESCAC.