ALBANY, N.Y. - Sara Heldman (Greenwood, Ind.), a junior libero on the University of New Hampshire volleyball team, has been named America East Co-Defensive Specialist of the Year. Heldman headlines a group of three Wildcat all-conference honorees. The annual awards were announced Thursday afternoon by the America East conference.
Heldman is joined by AE All-Conference First Team honoree senior outside hitter Lindsay Fogarty (Pleasanton, Calif.). Joining Heldman on the America East All-Conference Second Team is senior right-side hitter Kirsten Bates (Calgary, Alberta).
Heldman, who shares the league's top defensive honor with Albany's Laurie Gonzalez, has a league-best 446 digs and finished with a league-best 5.30 digs per set in America East play. Heldman's 4.80 dps overall is second to only Gonzalez. In the final weekend of the regular season, Heldman recorded a program-record 38 digs in a win over Stony Brook. Heldman becomes the fourth Wildcat to earn the league's top defensive honor and the first since Alyse Lahti did so in 2007.
Fogarty, who was a 2008 America East All-Conference Second Team member, paced a well-balanced offensive attack for the Wildcats and was among the league leaders in several categories. Overall, she ranked 10th in hitting percentage, fifth in points and fourth in kills. However, in America East play Fogarty finished second in kills (3.95 kps), eighth in aces (0.27 aps) and second in points (4.42 pps). Fogarty was a two-time America East Player of the Week (Sept. 28, Nov. 16).
Bates, a three-time America East All-Conference selection, ranks eighth in the America East in kills (3.08 kps), eighth in digs (3.00 dps) and seventh in points (3.49 pps). Bates returned this season just months after knee surgery and was a key part to UNH's second-half run to the postseason. Bates also became just the sixth player in UNH history to record 1,000 career assists.
These three honorees and the rest of the Wildcats will be in action at the University at Albany campus Friday, Nov. 20 for the 2009 America East Volleyball Championship. Second-seeded New Hampshire faces third-seeded Binghamton at 3 p.m.