Nov. 9, 2011
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Boston volleyball team garnered two of the five major awards handed out by the Little East Conference Wednesday afternoon. For the second straight year, junior Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, Calif.) was named the Offensive Player of the Year, while freshman Kirsten Morrison (North Reading, Mass.) was named the Little East Conference Rookie of the Year.
Morrison becomes the fourth consecutive and sixth overall Beacon to be named the conference’s top rookie. Thompson became only the third player in the conference’s history to earn the top offensive honor in back-to-back seasons.
Thompson was also named a First Team All-Conference selection alongside seniors Cassy Hanneman (Denver, Co.) and Molly Rattigan (Dorchester, Mass.). Morrison and Corrine Porter (Huntington Beach, Calif.) were named Second Team All-Conference honorees.
For Thompson, the all-conference honor marks the third straight for the 6’2” junior. In another standout season, Thompson helped the Beacons to a Little East Conference tournament title, and a share of the regular season crown. Named offensive player of the week multiple times by the LEC and the ECAC, Thompson also became the first player in program history to be named AVCA Division III National Player of the Year in October.
Going into the NCAA regional tournament, Thompson currently carries 413 kills in 97 sets played, which ranks her amongst the top hitters in the country. Averaging 4.26 kills per set, Thompson has been an anchor for the Beacons, which at one-point carried a 22-match win streak, setting a new program record in the process. Also one of the team’s top servers, Thompson leads UMass with 35 aces. On the defensive side of the net, her 225 digs ranks her third on the team, while her 1.00 blocks per set (97 total blocks) was amongst the highest in the conference.
For Rattigan, her first team selection caps off the best overall season in her four year career at UMass Boston. Currently ranked in the top-5 in Division III in hitting percentage, Rattigan has proven to be the Beacons most consistent hitter with her .427 hitting percentage. With 244 kills to her name this season, Rattigan has had numerous breakout performances, which helped the Beacons to wins over both regionally and ranked opponents. She currently stands as the only player on this year’s roster to have played in 100 sets. At the net her 0.88 blocks per set ranks her amongst the top blockers in the Little East Conference.
Hanneman’s senior season was also arguably one of her best as she played a major part in leading the Beacons to huge wins over Tufts University (3-2), and nationally ranked SUNY Cortland (3-1). On the year, Hanneman sits alone a-top the Little East Conference with her 1,067 assists. The first and only player to record three 1,000+ assists seasons, Hanneman is currently averaging 10.8 assists per set, which ranks her 11th in the country. Earlier this year, Hanneman set the program record for total career matches played having appeared in 134 going into this weekend’s NCAA tournament.
Morrison earned her Rookie of the Year and second team honors after closing out the regular season and conference tournament averaging 1.83 kills per set. On 398 total attempts, Morrison drove home 174 kills for a .322 hitting percentage. She also managed 67 total blocks, which ranked third on the team. Having played in 95 sets this year, perhaps her best overall performance came in the championship match against Plymouth State on Sunday. The 6’2” middle fueled the Beacons runs in the first and second sets, and helped the Beacons close out their dominating third set to earn the program’s third straight conference title.
As a sophomore, Porter was also one of the Beacons top hitters in 2011. In 97 sets played, the sophomore and 2010 Rookie of the Year scored a combined 287 kills (2.96 kills per set). Her .280 hitting percentage is the fourth highest on the squad this season. Truly a dual threat, Porter was also solid on the defensive side of the ball, coming up with 270 digs. Of the 30 matches played this season, Porter recorded a combined 10 double-doubles.
Volleyball will continue their season on Thursday when they face NYU-Polytechnic in the first round of the NCAA Division Regional tournament, which will be played at Springfield College. The Beacons enter this year’s tournament with a 26-4 record and were selected as the number two seed overall.