Eight of the 10 Big East volleyball teams wrap up their regular seasons this weekend with a pair of matches. Only travel partners Seton Hall and St. John’s do not, as they only have one match with each other left on the schedule.
That means it’s time to take a crack at figuring out how those whacky Big East coaches are going to vote for the end of season awards. The Big East league office is awfully jumpy about publishing the lists as soon as possible after the season ends, so we have to stay in front of those crafty devils.
Onwards we go......
Player of the Year: Lydia Dimke, Setter, Creighton
Ok, so check this out: Creighton has the best team hitting percentage in the Big East and the best team kills average in the league as well. Neither of these are by small margins, either. However, there are just two Bluejays in the top 10 in hitting percentage and you have to go all the way down to seventh and eighth place in the league in kills to find Creighton’s Jaali Winters and Taryn Kloth. Credit for that has to go to Dimke, who leads the Big East in assists and ranks 12th in the country. On top of all of this, we can’t ignore the fact that Creighton is currently 16-0 in the Big East and clinched the regular season title with two matches left to play.
This probably isn’t the most bulletproof argument for her, so let’s examine other candidates. Butler’s Anna Logan has been Player of the Week twice and at seven appearances, she’s been a fixture on the Weekly Honor Roll. She leads the league in both kills and points per set..... but the Bulldogs are currently on the outside looking in on the four team Big East tournament. Marquette’s Taylor Louis is right behind Logan in both kills and points, but with the Golden Eagles looking at the possibility of finishing as low as third in the league, it’s hard to turn to her as the best player in the league.
Freshman of the Year: Emma Decker, Setter, Villanova
With five players winning multiple Freshman of the Week awards this year, this is going to be far from a unanimous pick, I’m sure. It’s hard to ignore the fact that Decker ranks second in the league and 20th in the country in assists as a freshman, though, even if the regular season results have not turned in the Wildcats’ favor as the season has progressed.
Creighton’s Megan Ballenger was named Freshman of the Week 3 times, so it’s not like she’s completely out of the running here, nor is St. John’s Erica Di Maulo, who had two FOTW awards and was the only freshman to get more than one Weekly Honor Roll nod.
Libero of the Year: Tessa Fournier, Seton Hall
Do you go with the league’s digs leader, which is Fournier, or do you go with the libero on the team with the best digs average, which would be Marquette’s Lauren Houg? Houg trails Fournier for the individual lead by just 0.36 digs per set, so it’s not like that’s a runaway. Ultimately, Fournier has a higher percentage of her team’s digs by a pretty wide margin, so we’ll have to go with her.
Coach of the Year: Kirsten Bernthal Booth, Creighton
Remember when I mentioned that the Jays were 16-0? End of discussion.
All Big East Team
Abbey Bessler, OH, Xavier
Lydia Dimke, S, Creighton
Tessa Fournier, L, Seton Hall
Lauren Houg, L, Marquette
Anna Logan, OH, Butler
Allie Loitz, OH, Villanova
Taylor Louis, OH, Marquette
Brittany Maxwell, OH, DePaul
Meghan Niemann, MH, Marquette
Jenna Rosenthal, MH, Marquette
Lauren Smith, MB, Creighton
Jaali Winters, OH, Creighton
Dimke and Fournier are automatic adds for their individual awards. Louis and Logan are candidates for POY, so they have to go in here, too. I like to give recognition to the defensive players, so I included Houg as well. The rest of the list is essentially adding in the next few hitters in the league, although I went out of my way to put Smith and Winters on the list because there just wasn’t enough Creighton representation here. They’re undefeated in league play, and they’re probably going to run the table. There has to be more than just Dimke in the all-conference team. Both Winters and Smith were on the preseason all-Big East team and unanimous choices at that, so they seem like the most likely options.