The Big East's regular season wrapped up earlier today when Georgetown picked up a 3-0 win over Villanova. This season, I've learned to not trust the Big East to hold off a little bit on releasing the postseason awards, so we'll run with making some predictions on those awards today.
Player of the Year: Autumn Bailey, OH, Marquette
Heh, yeah. The 2013 Rookie of the Year was averaging 4.82 kills/set heading into the final weekend of action, which gave her a lead of half a kill over the rest of the Big East. She's also leading the Big East in total points per set as the only player averaging over five points per frame. Yeah, she had a head start with her kills average, but she helped her case by leading the league in service aces, too. Bailey picked up four Offensive Player of the Week awards all in the last eight weeks, including being named the AVCA National Player of the Week last week.
Freshman of the Year: Makayla Ferguson, S, Butler
Four Freshman of the Week awards, four Weekly Honor Roll spots. That makes for a pretty exciting resume, and on top of that, Ferguson is one of just three setters in the Big East to average more than 10 assists per set this season. Bonus points for guiding the Butler offense into having a chance to snag a Big East tournament spot on the last weekend of the regular season, too.
Libero of the Year: Tessa Fournier, Seton Hall
The sophomore from Redondo Beach, CA, leads the Big East in digs. That shouldn't be enough to give Fournier the award on its own, of course. Luckily, she was named Defensive Player of the Week twice in the later stages of the regular season, plus she has two honor roll appearances to her credit.
Coach of the Year: Kirsten Bernal Booth, Creighton
I can see the argument for Seton Hall's Allison Yeager very easiliy. Here's my case for the Creighton steward: Not only did the Jays win the regular season title, but midway through the league slate, they lost libero Kate Elman to injury. Booth replaced her with Melanie Jereb, who had never played libero before. Jereb ended up averaging over three and a half digs per set in conference play as the Bluejays sewed up the #1 seed and outright regular season title. Some times it's the little things in life.
All-Big East Team
Autumn Bailey, OH, Marquette
Nele Barber, OH, Marquette
Abbey Bessler, OH, Xavier
Jess Bird, OH, Creighton
Kelli Browning, MB, Creighton
Tessa Fournier, L, Seton Hall
Shelbey Manthorpe, S, Seton Hall
Stacey Manthorpe, OH, Seton Hall
Belle Obert, OH, Butler
Karin Palgutova, OH, St. John's
Aubree Smith, S, Xavier
Aleksandra Wachowicz, St. John's
The list includes the top eight in the Big East in points per set and the top six in kills. Based on the various weekly awards, everyone on this list has earned a spot as one of the 12 best players in the league. My two biggest guesses are Nele Barber from Marquette and Jess Bird from Creighton. Both of them had much stronger Big East campaigns than non-conference stints, although in Bird's case, that had more to do with injury. I might be reaching a little on Bird, but this list needed more Bluejays on it, given that they won the regular season title. My justification for Barber is that she's one of four players in the top 20 in both kills and digs, and the other three - Bailey, Belle Obert, and Abbey Bessler - are already on the squad.