On Tuesday, the Big East announced the postseason volleyball awards for the 2015 season. Marquette had two players, outside hitter Taylor Louis and middle blocker Meghan Niemann, named to the league's all-conference First Team.
Louis is one of four unanimous selections to the First Team after leading the Big East in kills this season with 4.86 kills per set and 540 total kills. The redshirt freshman also had the best points per set average in the league at 5.27/set, and was named Player of the Week once during the season. Niemann continues her streak of being one of the 12 best players in the Big East during her college career, picking up First Team honors for the third consecutive season. The redshirt junior led Marquette in hitting percentage this season, and led the entire Big East in that category in league play. Niemann hit .382 in conference matches and recorded just 15 hitting errors. On top of that, she doubled up Louis in Player of the Week awards with two of her own.
Let's turn our attention to the rest of the league awards.
Player of the Year: Abbey Bessler, OH, Xavier
Well, I missed the mark on this one. Louis was my choice for this award since she was one of the five best hitters in the country this season. Bessler was one of the most decorated players in the league this season, earning Player of the Week honors twice and she was named to the Weekly Honor Roll six times. Here's what the Big East wrote about her in their award announcement:
She ranked third in the conference in points (4.59 points/set) during BIG EAST play. The Hebron, Ky., native also ranks third in kills (4.11 kill/set) and eighth in digs (3.50 digs/set). Bessler is the first Xavier student-athlete to be voted BIG EAST Player of the Year. The Hebron, Ky. native has 16 double-doubles on the year and has recorded 20 or more kills in match six times. She broke the Xavier school record for kills in a match with 33 against St. John's on Sept. 26.
I don't get how that beats out Louis, or Creighton's Jaali Winters, or St. John's Karin Palgutova, or even Villanova's Emma Pettit, all of whom were mentioned in my predictions post. The only real advantage I can see for Bessler is that she's a junior, while Louis and Winters are both freshmen.
Freshman of the Year: Jaali Winters, OH, Creighton
Louis was my choice here, as well. I can see the argument for Winters since she was the leader on the offense that won the league's regular season title in a runaway, while Marquette finished fourth in the standings.
Libero of the Year: Tessa Fournier, Seton Hall
Fournier slipped past Marquette's Lauren Houg in both digs per set and total digs in the final weekend of the regular season, so I suppose I can't argue with this vote. Marquette did lead the Big East in digs as a team, though, so I would have figured that would have worked in Houg's favor. I also figured being one of the four playoff teams would have helped Houg, as Seton Hall was not close to making the field.
Coaching Staff of the Year: Creighton
They won the league going away, losing just one match in conference action. Head coach Kirsten Bernal Booth used 12 different starting lineups this season as seven different women missed at least one match this season. I had picked Villanova and head coach Josh Steinbach due to the Wildcats jumping from their 7th place prediction up to second place in the final standings, but I'm never going to argue with someone who coached a dominant squad.
All-Big East First Team
Maggie Baumert, Creighton Sr., S
Abbey Bessler, Xavier, Jr., OH
Tessa Fournier, Seton Hall, Jr., L
Allie Loitz, Villanova, So., OH
Taylor Louis, Marquette, Fr., OH
Kristen Massa, Xavier, So., OH
Meghan Niemann, Marquette, RS-Jr., MH
Karin Palgutova, St. John's, Sr., OH
Emma Pettit, Villanova, Sr., S
Lauren Smith, Creighton, Jr., MB
Mary Striedl, Butler, Sr., RS
Jaali Winters, Creighton, Fr., OH
All-Big East Second Team
Jess Bird, Creighton, Jr., OH
Julia Cast, St. John's, So., MB/RS
Amanda Hansen, Seton Hall, Sr., MB
Anna Logan, Butler, Fr., OH
Sofia Peterson, Xavier, RS-Jr., RS
Gabby Pethokoukis, Villanova, RS-Jr., MB
I missed on two players on the Big East First team, and it probably shouldn't be that many. The league's coaches only put one defensive specialist, Tessa Fournier, onto the all-league team, while I included two. If they had gone with two, then you'd have to figure it would have been Marquette's Lauren Houg. Since the coaches were allowed to vote for whatever 12 players that they wanted as long as they weren't on their own team, I guess we can't be surprised that they skipped on recognizing defensive players.
My other miss was Georgetown's Alyssa Sinnette, and that was kind of a guess on my part. The players that the coaches voted for were Xavier's Kristen Mass and Butler's Mary Striedl. I remember looking at the two of them before settling on Sinnette, so I guess that makes sense.