As expected, the Big East fired up their 2019 volleyball awards before the conference tournament starts on Friday. Also as expected, Marquette senior outside hitter Allie Barber was named Big East Player of the Year! Barber was a unanimous choice for the trophy this time around, and it’s the second such honor in Barber’s collegiate career.
It’s time to dish out some #BIGEASTvb Regular Season Hardware— BIG EAST Conference (@BIGEAST) November 27, 2019
First up, a UNANIMOUS Player of the Year honoree from @MarquetteVB, Allie Barber. The senior picks up the second Player of the Year accolade of her career. pic.twitter.com/lfW0SkPGQv
Here’s what the league office said about Barber’s qualifications as the best player in the Big East this season.
BIG EAST Player of the Year Allie Barber was a unanimous choice among the league’s head coaches and is one of eight unanimous selections to the All-BIG EAST Team. The senior earned Player of the Year honors as a sophomore in 2017 after being named BIG EAST Co-Freshman of the Year in 2016. Barber is just the fourth woman in 30 years to claim BIG EAST Player of the Year honors more than once. The Cedarburg, Wis., native led the conference with 4.61 kills per set all matches, and 4.52 kills in BIG EAST matches and was fourth, hitting at a .313 clip. She was second in points per set tallying 4.78. The outside hitter was BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week six times this season. Barber has been recognized on the All-BIG EAST team all four years of her collegiate career.
In addition to Barber’s individual honors, she was joined on the Big East’s all-conference team by junior outside hitter Hope Werch and junior libero Martha Konovodoff.
Squad Goals— BIG EAST Conference (@BIGEAST) November 27, 2019
Take a look at the 2019 All-BIG EAST team ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/wUXTrkvcmT
Not to be mean to Konovodoff and Werch, but I really feel like “all-conference honoree” starts losing a little bit of its luster when the league throws together one team with 18 women on it as opposed to a first and a second team. All I’m saying is that there were eight unanimous choices for the all-conference team in a sport where six women are on the court at the same time and teams announce a seven player starting lineup because of the libero role. 18 is a liiiiiiiittle bit wonky.
Here’s what the Marquette press release has to say about Konovodoff:
Konovodoff earns All-BIG EAST honors after picking up second-team accolades in 2018 and averaged 4.31 digs per set in league matches this season. The Sugar Grove, Illinois product was named Defensive Player of the Week once this season, while also earning a spot on the weekly honor roll.
And then about Werch:
Werch was steady for the Golden Eagles all season as she averaged 2.83 kills per set, 2.68 digs per set and led the BIG EAST with 0.61 service aces per set in league matches this year. The 2017 BIG EAST Freshman of the Year was selected to the weekly honor on six occasions this season and recorded 10 double-doubles for MU this season.
Those three weren’t the only Golden Eagles to earn recognition from the Big East this season. Hannah Vanden Berg is one of two unanimous choices by the league’s coaches for the all-freshman team.
The rookies came to play in 2019.— BIG EAST Conference (@BIGEAST) November 27, 2019
Take a look at the 6️⃣ member ALL-BIG EAST Freshman team ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/eUlRhuYrLp
Hey, look, a totally normal six woman team. Nice job, Big East. As expected, the league did not go into details on the freshmen, but Marquette’s press release was more than happy to tout the talents of Vanden Berg:
In her first year, Vanden Berg stepped into a starting role for Marquette and averaged 2.38 kills per set in league play, while hitting at a .249 clip, breaking the top-20 in both categories. The Little Chute, Wisconsin native served up 0.38 aces per set in BIG EAST action, which ranks sixth.
That first sentence is carrying a lot of weight for Vanden Berg’s candidacy for the all-freshman team. It’s entirely possible and perhaps even likely that she makes it to the honor without the injury to KJ Lines that allowed Vanden Berg to become a starter. She’s probably not an obvious unanimous choice, though.
The other major awards went exactly as laid out in our official AE awards picks article, meaning Creighton took all three remaining trophies. Brittany Witt was named Libero of the Year, Keeley Davis was the unanimous pick as Freshman of the Year (quite honestly, if you didn’t vote for her, you probably should have been fired), and Kirsten Bernthal Booth and her assistants were named Coaching Staff of the Year.
Marquette returns to action on Friday, when they play host for the 2019 Big East tournament. The Golden Eagles are the #2 seed and will face #3 Villanova, with first serve on the Big East Digital Network coming at 2:30pm.
You can check out the full rundown on the entire league’s awards right here.