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Frosh Athletes Win Rookie Honors

Two UAlbany freshmen, Ashley DeNeal and Kristina Maze, have already made names for themselves in Great Dane Division I athletics this fall – racking up America East honors. They’ve not only shown remarkable skill in their respective sports, but they have also exemplified true competitive spirit.

Ashley DeNeal
  Ashley DeNeal

Ashley DeNeal has been chosen as the America East Conference Rookie of the Week in women’s volleyball, four times this season and leads the team with 264 kills and 312 digs, while ranking third with 35 service aces.

At just under 5’7”, she’s the smallest hitter in the conference. “There are nights when she is facing a blocker that is seven inches taller than she is,” says Coach Kelly Sheffield. “But Ashley is very competitive. When she gets blocked or gets aced, she wants the next ball. There’s no fear in her.” On the court DeNeal is composed and very good at her skills. She’s ranked 3rd in Kills, 3rd in Digs and 9th in the conference in hitting percentage.

Her competitive personality may stem in part from being raised with twin older brothers who were both athletes and a father who was a football coach. She came to UAlbany from Indiana along with friend and high school teammate Blair Buchanan. Ashley had many options to play closer to home, but Buchanan, who had already committed to UAlbany, was very persuasive. “I think Ashley liked the team’s philosophy and also the idea of being part of a team that is making significant strides now,” said Sheffield. Off the court Ashley is an excellent student with eyes toward a career in law.

The team, comprised of five freshmen, 3 sophomores, 2 juniors, and one senior, is the youngest in the conference and one of the youngest in the entire country. Coupled with their five-game win over Hartford, the Great Danes have reached the 20-win mark for the first time since 1997. Next home game is this Friday, November 7 at 7pm vs. Stony Brook.Eileen Nicole Rodriguez

Volleyball fans should also keep an eye on team member Eileen Nicole Rodriguez who just moved into 9th place on the all-time NCAA career service aces list. Watch out for this sophomore to smash the NCAA record soon!

In UAlbany Women’s Field Hockey, freshman forward Kristina Maze, recently received the award as America East Conference Rookie of the Week for the third time this season.

Kristina Maze
  Kristina Maze

According to head coach Deborah Fiore, Kristina is just a “great athlete with strong explosive speed. She makes quick decisions, great passes and assists, and is an intense, mentally tough competitor. Kristina is third on the team in goals and points, plus leads the squad in assists.

If you thought you were seeing double on the field, you were right! Kristina’s twin sister, Marissa Maze was out there, tending goal. The two freshmen are a coach’s dream. “They are very exciting to coach and watch,” says Fiore. “They want to be the best and will invest the physical and intellectual energy into making progress toward that goal.” Combine that with tremendous potential and an outstanding work ethic and you have a recipe for excitement!

The Maze twins, from Glens Falls, NY, have that special “twin-thing” going too – they read each other very well on and off the field, sometimes saying the same thing together. Both are exceptional student athletes and a great asset to the team and the University.

With the season coming to a close Fiore reports that the team did very well this year, doubling their scoring since last season. They have been ranked in several categories for Division I leaders and, of course, the Mazes have been a big part of that.Great Danes University at Albany

Students: All Great Danes home games are UAlbany Go2!Events. So get out there! Catch the Spirit! For information on how to register visit, UAlbany Go2!Events.

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