IRVINE, Calif. ---
Cal State Northridge women's volleyball junior Casey Hinger and men's soccer junior Yardez Azulay were named 2014 Big West Conference Scholar-Athletes at the conference's annual Scholar-Athlete Banquet Thursday morning. A two-time All-American at middle blocker, Hinger has excelled in the classroom as well as a psychology major. Azulay, originally from Jordan Valley, Israel, is an important part of a CSUN men's soccer program that earned a national seed in the 2013 Big West Tournament.
Among those in attendance from CSUN were President Dr. Dianne F. Harrison and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Brandon E. Martin. Approximately 2,300 student-athletes compete in Big West sponsored athletics; Hinger and Azulay represent the cream of the crop in that not only have they excelled in competition, but in the classroom as well.
"Honoring these student-athletes for their academic achievements as well as their athletic achievements is a great thing for the conference to do as an annual event," Dr. Harrison said. "This collective group of student-athletes are all individuals that we can all be proud of."
"Both Casey and Yarden have epitomized the true motto of the student-athlete," Dr. Martin said. "We could not be any prouder of their success in their respective sports, but more importantly, in their academic excellence."
Hinger followed up her honorable mention All-America season in 2012 with the same honor this season. She is the first CSUN Division I player to earn national accolades multiple times in her Matador career. This season she led the 24-7 Matadors in kills, kills per set, points and blocks as CSUN advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
She and teammate Sydney Gedryn became the first CSUN tandem to earn All-America honors in the same season was 1988 since Kathleen Dixon (first team), Marianne Dixon (second team) and Karen Langston (second team) were named NCAA Division II All-Americans.
Off the court, Hinger is a psychology major who earned Academic All-Big West Fall Team honors in 2013 and 2012. She aspires to be a private-practice psychologist and a college professor.
Her head coach, Jeff Stork, saw Hinger's Scholar-Athlete award as a fitting end to a fantastic season.
"I think this event is a great representation what student-athletes in the Big West Conference can accomplish and Casey is certainly a fitting representative for CSUN," Stork said. "She has excelled at every level she has done, whether that is on the court or in the classroom, and she only has one speed: all out."
Azulay appeared in 22 matches and made four starts as a junior in 2013. He recorded two goals and added four assists for eight points on the year. Azulay had a goal and an assist in the come-from-behind win over Memphis and also scored against UCLA. He earned credit for assists against Central Arkansas and in back-to-back matches against Bradley and Sacramento State.
Off the field, Azulay was named to the 2013 NSCAA Men's Scholar All-West Region team. To qualify for the Scholar All-Region Team, a player must be in his junior season and carry a minimum 3.30 GPA in addition to making significant contributions to his team during the season. Azulay currently has a 3.68 GPA and is majoring in Marketing.
His head coach, Terry Davila, sees Azulay as a leader for the program both on and off the pitch.
"Yarden has come from a very unique background, coming from Israel and being a part of the Israeli Army. Those are experiences that most people never get to see or never have to persevere through," Davila said. "This award is a testament to his discipline on and off the field. He demonstrates such great character and great work rate. We are honored to have a player like him in our program."