Oklahoma Baptist's Leatherland GAC Volleyball Player of the Year

Oklahoma Baptist Athletics
Shawnee News-Star, USA TODAY NETWORK
Oklahoma Baptist's Malia Leatherland prepares to serve the ball during a 2021 match.

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Malia Leatherland became just the third player in Great American Conference history to win multiple Player of the Year accolades as the league announced its All-GAC awards on Wednesday night.

The senior outside hitter joined Harding's Mollie Arnold (2013; 2015) and Zoe Hardin (2016; 2018) as the only players to win that honor twice. Leatherland previously won the award in 2019.

Leatherland was also the only student-athlete to earn unanimous All-GAC First Team honors. That is the third time she has made the top team.

Four more Bison earned All-GAC recognition: Taneyah Brown and Kaylee Buell on the second team while Avery Hellmuth and Audrey Poupard earned honorable mention accolades. Furthermore, Taryn Weber and Rylen Moore were named GAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes.

During the regular season, Leatherland notched eight double-doubles and ranked third in the GAC in kills (3.37) and points (3.76). In the team's 3-0 win at Southeastern on Nov. 4, Leatherland became the GAC's all-time leader in points. Her season bests included 23 kills at East Central on Nov. 2 and 24 digs at Harding on Oct. 9. Both of those matches were five-set comeback wins for OBU.

For Brown, it is her second consecutive second-team honor as she was selected during the spring. The right-side hitter was fifth in hitting percentage (.292), eighth in blocks (0.85) and 12th in points (3.18). She tallied 16 kills twice, against Ferris State (9/10) and Henderson State (10/21) and hit at least .417 in six different matches.

Putting the OBU offense in motion was Buell, a now two-time All-GAC honoree. The senior accumulated 834 assists during the regular season and ranked second in the GAC in assists per set (9.93). During the team's game at ECU on Nov. 2, she became just the fifth OBU player to surpass 2,000 career assists. Buell's best performance of the season came against No. 13 Hillsdale on Sept. 4 when she handed out 51 assists.

Rounding out OBU's selections were Hellmuth and Poupard.

For Hellmuth, the Freshman of the Year during the spring, she was sixth in the GAC in hitting percentage (.292) and posted the 15th-best points mark (3.11). The middle blocker from Dallas notched at least 10 kills in 11 matches, posted a least four total blocks in seven more and helped the OBU service game with at least one ace in 11 of 22 matches started.

Poupard's award marked the second consecutive season she made honorable mention. Another middle blocker for OBU, she was the GAC leader in blocks (1.26) and was 10th in hitting percentage (.289). Her best performance of the regular season came at Southern Nazarene on Sept. 28 when she hit a ridiculous .692 with 10 kills and eight total blocks.