Area briefs: ND's Deschner is NCAA Woman of Year finalist

South Bend Tribune

FENCING

ND's Deschner is NCAA Woman of Year finalist

Notre Dame's Stefani Deschner is among the nine finalists announced Thursday for the 2021 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

The NCAA will name the 2021 Woman of the Year during a virtual awards ceremony the evening of Tuesday, November 9. Now in its 31st year, the NCAA Woman of the Year program honors graduating female student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership. 

An NCAA fencing national champion and campus leader, Deschner joins eight other finalists who were among an original group of 535 school nominees. That group was narrowed to 154 nominees by conference offices, and the NCAA in September announced the Top 30 – 10 from each of three NCAA divisions. The list of finalists unveiled on Thursday consists of three student-athletes from each NCAA division.

Deschner was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Fencing Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season after a successful senior year in which she helped Notre Dame to the 11th National Championship in program history.

The Versailles, Kentucky, native continued her strong play on the strip after a breakout junior season. She completed an undefeated regular season with a 17-0 record heading into the NCAA Championships. At the NCAAs, Deschner advanced to the semifinals and defeated teammate Amita Berthier to advance to the foil finals. In the finals, she scored the first seven touches of the match and ended up claiming the foil championship, 15-9.

With the win, she captured her first career individual championship and was the first women’s foil champion from Notre Dame since Olympic gold medalist Lee Kiefer back in 2017.

The co-executive chair of the ACC Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) mental health board, Deschner has organized additional mental health town halls, developed education modules, and created a mental health station to help direct student athletes to proper mental health professionals.

Deschner has also actively served as the fencing liaison with Fighting Irish Fight for Life (FIFL), an organization that pairs severely ill children with the university’s sports teams.

Having recently earned her a undergraduate degree in pre-professional studies and theology, Deschner has been accepted into three medical schools. She was a 2021 ACC Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, a three-time All-ACC Fencing Academic Team honoree and has made the Dean’s List seven times.

“As I enter medical school, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn true compassion, joy in the simplest things, and resilience despite the myriad of obstacles that we face,” Deschner said. “I have become a compassionate leader, a resilient athlete, and a determined student. As a result, I will combine these qualities to become a thoughtful physician, making a difference through service.”

VOLLEYBALL

IUSB falls to Saint Xavier

In a contest between the last two undefeated teams in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference play, IU South Bend came up short on Thursday night, falling on the road at Saint Xavier in straight sets.

Hannah Marchand led the Titans (17-5, 13-1 CCAC) with ten kills as the team struggled to a .097 attack percentage, the lowest of the year. McKenzie Powell collected 25 assist and 10 digs for her 13th double-double of the season. Amber Jacobs led the defense with 11 digs.