DURHAM, N.H. -- The University of New Hampshire volleyball team took home three of the five major awards at the America East volleyball banquet as selected by the seven conference coaches on Friday night at Huddleston Hall on the UNH campus.
Junior outside hitter Alyson Coler (Monte Sereno, Calif.) earned the most coveted award as she was named America East Player of the Year, while Jill Hirschinger was named Coach of the Year for the third time in her seven years at UNH. Junior co-captain Sasha Scott (North Branford, Conn.), leading the Wildcats defensively as the libero, was named the Defensive Specialist of the Year.
Coler, the America East Rookie of the Year in 2000, is the second UNH player in school history to be named Player of the Year with Beth Cole in 1997 taking home the honor. Coler currently leads the Wildcats with 507 kills, a new school record, and ranks second in the conference with 4.41 kills per game. She also set the school record for kills in a match with 38 vs. Northeastern on October 8th.
Coach Hirschinger, who was also named conference Coach of the Year in 1997 and 1998, is the winningest coach in school history with 139 wins and has led the Wildcats to their fifth 20-win season in 2002. Scott, who leads the team in digs with 437, is the winner of the inaugural Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 3.80 digs per game which ranks second in the conference.
In addition to the three major awards, Coler and senior co-captain Lauren Knight (Centerville, Mass.) were selected to the All-Conference Team, while outside hitter Amy Dai (Calgary, Alberta) and middle hitter Karen Harrington (Windham, N.H.) earned All-Rookie Team honors.
Knight, the team's lone senior, has had an impressive season. She ranks second on the 'Cats squad in kills with a career-best 395 and has also set a personal-best mark in digs with 265, which ranks fourth. She also places seventh in America East with 3.46 kills per game and ranks fourth with a .277 hitting percentage in conference matches.
Dai has posted 138 kills on the year which ranks fifth on the Wildcats squad. Harrington ranks second in America East with 1.17 blocks per game and has registered 112 kills in her freshman campaign.
Junior setter Anne Davis (Groveland, Ill.) and junior right side hitter Erin Ludwig (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) were selected to the honorable mention teams for their efforts throughout the year. Davis ranks third in conference games averaging 11.48 assists per game, while Ludwig ranks fifth with a .276 hitting percentage in conference games.
UNH is the No. 1 seed in the America East Championships. The Wildcats, who are hosting the event at Lundholm Gymnasium, face No. 4 seed Albany on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. In the second semifinal, No. 2 seed Northeastern faces No. 3 seed Stony Brook at 3:30 p.m. The America East championship game is Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m.