The upside of women's volleyball, relative to men's and women's soccer, is that there's a lot fewer awards to try to predict. The Big East honors an overall best player and gives special notice to the best libero, allowing for recognition of defense, and also to the best freshman in the conference. That said, the conference also recognizes 12 players on the all conference First Team, which is twice as many actually play at any given time. In any case, let's get to some predictions of the awards that the Big East will hand out prior to the start of the Big East Tournament tomorrow at the Al McGuire Center.
Player Of The Year: Lola Arslanbekova, Louisville. The 2011 Player Of The Year wrapped up her collegiate career in stellar fashion. She averaged 4.99 kills per set, more than half a kill more than anyone else in the league, earned Player Of The Week honors 5 times, and tacked on Weekly Honor Roll appearances in two other weeks. For those of you scoring at home, that's seven weeks of being honored by the conference against only five weeks without honors.
Libero Of The Year: Alyssa Warren, Seton Hall. This one was a little harder to figure. Connecticut's Kelsey Maving and Cincinnati's Emily MacIntyre both picked up Honor Roll appearances this year, but Warren didn't. That said, Warren led the Big East in digs per set at 5.88, so we'll give her the nod.
Freshman Of The Year: Erin Fairs,
Notre Dame USF. Fairs doesn't show up amongst the statistical leaders in any category, but she did did pick up one Rookie Of The Week award and 2 Honor Roll appearances. If this ends up going to Fairs' teammate Taylor Morey or Syracuse's Silvi Uattara, I won't be surprised.
Coach Of The Year: Holly Strauss-O'Brien, Connecticut. The Huskies finished last season 14-15 and 4-10 in Big East play. They were picked to finish 10th this year in the preseason poll, but ended up 19-11, with a Big East record of 10-5 and finished in fourth place. Have to go with Coach Strauss-O'Brien for this award.
All Big East First Team:
Jordanne Scott, Cincinnati
Lola Arslanbekova, Louisville
Gwen Rucker, Louisville
Danielle Carlson, Marquette
Elizabeth Koberstein, Marquette
Kelsey Mattai, Marquette
Holly Mertens, Marquette
Toni Algubue, Notre Dame
Jeni Houser, Notre Dame
Stephanie Zielinski, Rutgers
Alyssa Warren, Seton Hall
Karin Palgutova, St. John's
(h/t to Collin from Voodoo Five for looking out for his Bulls)