UC Irvine men's volleyball All-American Kevin Tillie was named Lauds & Laurels Outstanding Student-Athlete at the school's Salute to Scholar-Athletes banquet at the Bren Events Center to close out the school year.
The award is the most prestigious given by the UCI Alumni Assn. Tillie was a member of UCI's back-to-back NCAA champions, earning first team All-American accolades each year. Tillie was also named first team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and All-NCAA Tournament twice.
Senior tennis player Kristina Smith earned UCI Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors, while senior baseball player Ronnie Shaeffer was named the school's Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Earlier this year, women's volleyball player Kristin Winkler and men's distance runner Sam Hyams were honored as UCI's Big West Female and Male Scholar-Athletes of the Year, respectively, and they were also recognized at the banquet.
Smith was named the 2013 Big West Conference Player of the Year after posting a record of 20-3 at No. 1 singles in dual matches. She won the Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award for the Southwest Region and competed at the NCAA Singles Championship in late May.
An English major, Smith was selected to the Big West Conference Fall All-Academic team and is a three-time scholar-athlete as well as an eight-time Dean's Honor List honoree. She ranks second all-time at UCI with 97 total singles wins, including tournaments, and passed her mother Maria for most career dual-match wins (75) which ranks third all-time.
Shaeffer, a double major in anthropology and business economics, is a semifinalist for the prestigious Johnny Bench Award that recognizes the nation's top collegiate catcher. He is a two-time first-team All-Big West selection. Shaeffer was named Most Outstanding Player at the 2011 Los Angeles Regional, where he hit .600 and drove in the game-winning run against UCLA to clinch the regional title for the Anteaters. He was named the 2011 Rawlings Gold Glove winner by the American Baseball Coaches Assn. and is a three-time scholar-athlete and has made the Dean's Honor List four times.
Winkler ended her career as the Big West and UCI career leader in digs with 2,260. She also set the UCI single-season record with 676 digs in 2012. She received honorable mention in the American Volleyball Coaches Assn. All-American voting and was named All-West Region and first-team All-Big West.
Winkler, a business administration major, was selected to the Big West Fall All-Academic team twice and was a four-time scholar-athlete honoree. She was on the Dean's Honor List nine times.
Hyams qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary Round in the 1,500 meters this season. He finished second among 105 runners in that event at the Beach Invitational and placed sixth in the 1,500 at the Big West Conference Championships.
Hyams was 15th at the Big West Cross Country Championships last fall. He will graduate with a degree in political science. Hyams was named to the Dean's Honors List nine times and garnered scholar-athlete distinction all four years.
Sakia Sailinuu from women's track and field, as well as men's basketball player Derick Flowers were awarded UCI Academic Achievement Awards by the UCI Admissions Office, while women's soccer player Rachel Wood and men's basketball player Michael Wilder received Athletics Leadership Awards.
The women's golf team earned the Faculty Athletic Representative Award for highest team Grade-point average for the second consecutive year.
There were 121 who were named scholar-athlete honorees after having had at least a 3.0 GPA over three quarters (3.2 over two quarters for freshmen) and having earned letters in their sports.
The scholar-athlete award was implemented by the Big West Conference and was expanded by UCI to include teams that do not participate in Big West-sponsored sports.
Other awards included:
Outstanding Freshman Performance: Alex Young (men's basketball), who was Big West Freshman of the Year and a Mid-Major Freshman All-American; McKenna Mitchell (women's water polo), who had 41 goals this season; and Sarah Stadfelt (women's tennis), who was 25-6 in singles and 21-8 in doubles.
Outstanding Sophomore Performance: Will Davis (men's basketball), who was a Mid-Major Defensive All-American; Taylor Sparks (baseball), who was Big West Co-Field Player of the Year and a Collegiate Baseball third-team All-American; and Itos Aikhionbare (women's track and field), who set the school record in the discus throw.
Outstanding Junior Performance: Andrew Morales (baseball), who was first-team All-Big West, a Collegiate Baseball second-team All-American and posted a 10-0 pitching record; Mitch Wise (men's water polo), who was a third-team All-American with 62 goals; Natalia Ledezma (women's soccer), who was a first-team All-Big West and All-West Region performer.