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 Thursday night at Huddleston Hall on the UNH campus.
Senior 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 fourth time in her eight years at UNH. Senior co-captain Sasha Scott (North Branford, Conn.), leading the Wildcats defensively as the libero, was named the Defensive Specialist of the Year. Coler, Hirschinger and Scott win their respective awards for the second consecutive season.
Coler is the first player in the program's history to win Player of the Year twice in her Wildcat career. Coler currently leads the Wildcats with 506 kills and ranks third in the conference with 4.32 kills per game. Coler posted 20 kills or more in 10 matches this season and will leave UNH as the school's all-time kill leader. Coler needs 10 digs to break the all-time school dig record, currently held by former Wildcat Jillian Ross (1,207).
In addition to the three major awards, Coler and sophomore outside hitter Erin Walker (Fulton, N.Y.) were selected to the All-Conference Team, while setter Katie Weidner (Warrenville, Ill.) earned All-Rookie Team honors.
Coach Hirschinger, who was also named conference Coach of the Year in 1997, 1998 and 2002, is the winningest coach in school history with 162 wins and has led the Wildcats to their sixth 20-win season in 2003. Scott, who leads the team in digs with 457, is the winner of the Defensive Specialist of the Year averaging 3.87 digs per game, which ranks second among conference players. Scott is right behind teammate Coler in the race for the all-time school dig record and needs 29 digs to break Ross' record. Scott also needs only 36 digs to break the single-season dig mark, which she shattered in 2002.
Walker's 408 kills are second best on the Wildcats' roster and she ranks fifth on the conference leaderboard at 3.55 kills per game. Weidner, who split setting duties with Anne Davis in 2003, tallied 537 assists on the season and her 6.88 assists per game ranked eighth among America East setters.
Scott and senior right side hitter Erin Ludwig (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) were named to the Honorable Mention team for their efforts throughout the year. Ludwig amassed 188 kills, which was fourth best on the Wildcats' roster, in her senior. Ludwig's .278 hitting percentage ranked seventh in the America East conference and she tallied 57 blocks on the year, which was the third highest total on the Wildcats' squad.
UNH (21-11, 12-2 AE) 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 Friday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. In the first semifinal, No. 3 seed Northeastern faces No. 2 seed Stony Brook at 4 p.m. The America East championship game is Saturday, Nov. 22 at 4 p.m.