Dana Rettke end of 2017 generic file photo, UW photo

Dana Rettke, a 6-foot-8 middle blocker from Riverside, Illinois, averaged 3.42 kills and 1.37 blocks per set and had a school-record .443 hitting percentage in 2017, her freshman year.

Dana Rettke has hit new heights with the University of Wisconsin volleyball program.

Rettke on Wednesday became the first UW freshman named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American first team and the first Badger to be named National Freshman of the Year.

“It is such an honor and I am so thankful,” Rettke said. “I couldn’t have done this without my team so I would like to thank them for everything.”

The 6-foot-8 middle blocker from Riverside, Illinois, averaged 3.42 kills and 1.37 blocks per set. She also had a school-record .443 hitting percentage.

Rettke becomes the third first-team All-American in UW history, joining Sherisa Livingston (2000-01) and Lauren Carlini (2014-16). Carlini was a second-team selection her freshman year.

The national honors are just the latest in a season filled with awards for Rettke, who was named the AVCA Northeast Regional Freshman of the Year and the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year. She was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week a record nine times and was a two-time Big Ten Player of the Week.

Freshman setter Sydney Hilley and junior middle blocker Tionna Williams received All-American honorable mention honors.

Hilley, from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, averaged 11.76 assists and 2.02 digs per set and had a team-high 27 service aces.

Williams, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, averaged 2.44 kills and .98 blocks per set and had a .387 hitting percentage. She was honorable mention as a freshman and a third-team selection last season.

Rettke is one of two freshmen named to the first team, joined by Minnesota opposite Samantha Samedy.

Four other Big Ten players made the first team — senior middle blocker Haleigh Washington and senior outside hitter Simone Lee of Penn State; senior middle/outside hitter Danielle Cuttino of Purdue; and senior setter Kelly Hunter of Nebraska.

Stanford, which eliminated the Badgers in the regional semifinal, placed three players on the team — outside hitter Kathryn Plummer, setter Jenna Gray and libero Morgan Hentz, all sophomores.

Other first-team selections were senior middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan of Florida; senior outside hitter Adora Anae of Utah; sophomore Leah Edmond of Kentucky; sophomore outside hitter Khalia Lanier of Southern Cal; and senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu of Texas.

The All-American players will be honored and the Player of the Year will be announced at a banquet today in Kansas City, site of this weekend’s national championship.


Dennis Punzel covers Wisconsin Badgers volleyball, women's basketball for the Wisconsin State Journal.