Nov. 10, 2009

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA - University of Massachusetts Boston women's volleyball player Kate McWhorter (Bakersfield, CA) was named the Little East Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year and Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, CA) was honored as the LEC Rookie of the Year, it was announced today by the conference. Both were named to the LEC All-Star First Team, while Cassy Hanneman (Denver, CO) and Molly Rattigan were named to the Second Team. Plymouth State University's Eliza Badeau (Foster, RI) shares the top Offensive Player Award with McWhorter.

McWhorter earns the Offensive Player of the Year honor for the second straight year and is just the third player in LEC history to earn the award multiple times. The outside hitter was also tabbed to the LEC First Team last year and becomes the first player in school history to receive first team accolades twice. A Stockdale High School (CA) product, McWhorter has started all 33 matches, while missing just one of 114 sets on the year for the seventh-most matches played and ninth-most sets played in school history. A three-time Offensive Player of the Week honoree in 2009, she ranks second in the Little East Conference with 3.97 kills and 4.64 points per set, while standing third with a .397 hitting percentage. The 5'9" hitter has been a force from behind the serving line as well with 0.47 aces to place sixth among LEC leaders. She ranks second on the team with 2.59 digs per set and fourth with 0.31 total blocks. Her season has been nothing short of spectacular and is already one of the best for any player in school history with 449 kills for the third-most ever for the Beacons, while becoming the first player in school annals to post 400-plus kills in two different years. Her hitting percentage is easily the most efficient in school annals. Reliability has been her trademark as one of UMass Boston's best all-around players with double-digit kills in all but six matches, including 20-plus in three outings and notched her 1,000 career kill in a 3-0 win over Keene State College on September 26. She has hit no lower than .135 in any match this year, including 12 matches with a .500-or-better clip. The senior absolutely dominated a stretch of six matches with a scorching .591 hitting mark from September 12-26, where she committed just seven errors in 110 swings. Her serve has also been an effective weapon with at least one ace in 25 of 33 matches, including two or more on 13 occasions and a career-high of six at University of Southern Maine on October 8. McWhorter has been outstanding defensively as well with 10 or more digs in 16 matches and two or more total blocks nine times. Her play has not gone unnoticed with a spot on the Brandeis Invitational All-Tournament team on September 12 and an MIT Quad-Meet Most Valuable Player selection on October 17. She often rises to the occasion in the team's biggest matches or when the Beacons need something extra as evidenced by her Most Outstanding Player award for her performance in the Little East Conference Tournament where she recorded double-doubles of 16 kills and 13 digs in three sets vs. Rhode Island College in the semifinals on November 6 and 18 kills, including 14 in the final two sets, and 13 digs in UMass Boston's 3-1 victory over Plymouth State University to capture its first-ever Little East Conference championship on November 7.

McWhorter played her first two seasons for NCAA Division I California State University Bakersfield, before transferring to UMass Boston last season. The senior was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-New England Region Honorable Mention Team following last campaign and became the first player in school history to earn LEC Offensive Player of the Year accolades. McWhorter broke the Beacons' standard for kills in a season with 493 and shattered the hitting percentage record with a mark of .364, before bettering the figure this year. The senior, who has been named the LEC Offensive Player of the Week seven times in her career, has played in 365 sets over 108 matches, while spiking for 1,246 kills and owning a .320 hitting mark. She split time as a hitter and setter her freshman season and has compiled 331 assists, 711 digs, 111 aces and 131 total blocks for her career. In just 66 career matches and 222 sets at UMass Boston, McWhorter already places second on the career kills list with 942, fifth with 61 block assists, eighth with 559 digs, ninth with 96 aces and is the all-time leader with a .379 hitting percentage.

Thompson becomes the fourth player in school history to be selected the LEC Rookie of the Year and the third in four seasons. Her selection marks just the second time in league history that the top rookie has come from the same school two straight seasons. The freshman proved week in and week out that she was the top rookie with a conference-high seven Rookie of the Week awards in nine weeks. The middle hitter becomes just the second freshman in school annals to earn a spot on the LEC First Team, following in the footsteps of teammate Kate White (Plymouth, MA), who earned the honor in 2006. Thompson has been one of the LEC's top players, leading the league with 0.75 aces per set, while ranking third with 4.56 points and fourth with a .351 hitting percentage and 3.39 kills per set. The 6'2" hitter is the only player for UMass Boston to have played in all 114 sets over 33 matches for the sixth-highest total of sets played and seventh-most matches played in school history. She also stands third for UMass Boston with 0.61 total blocks and 2.41 digs per set. Her season is already stacking up as one of the best by any player in school history with 387 kills for the fourth-most ever, while her hitting mark is the third-most efficient in school annals. Her total of 44 block assists also puts her sixth on the all-time Beacons' single-season list, while her ace total of 85 is the fifth-most ever at UMass Boston. Consistency has been a hallmark of her game in her first year of collegiate volleyball with at least one ace in 31 of 33 matches, including a streak of 15 straight from September 4-29 and a current streak of 16 consecutive matches that has seen her average a commanding 1.00 aces per set with 53 over 53 frames, including no less than three aces in nine of her last 13 outings. She has also racked up 10 or more kills in 23 of 33 matches for the season, including a season-high of 24 in the Little East Conference title match vs. Plymouth State on November 7. The Moorpark High School graduate began her career by averaging 16 kills in each of her first four matches to earn a spot on the Pacific Coast Classic All-Tournament Team. She's been an extremely efficient hitter, match in and match out, with a positive hitting percentage in every outing and has posted a mark of at least .200 in every match but five thus far, including a three matches of .750 or above. Thompson has shown off her defensive prowess as well with at least one block in all but eight matches and has scooped up at least five digs on 27 occasions, including a high of 18 at Tufts University on September 29.

Hanneman earns Second Team honors for the second straight season after putting together another outstanding season, while ranking third in the LEC with 9.76 assists per set, despite playing the entire season with an injury. The setter has seen action in 109 sets and played in all 33 matches, while owning a .213 hitting percentage with 42 kills. The 5'8" sophomore has showcased a solid all-around game with 0.39 aces to rank fourth on the squad and 1.53 digs and 0.25 blocks to stand fifth among her teammates. Hanneman has registered 30 or more assists in 19 of 23 matches, where she was the full-time setter in the contest, including three matches of 50-plus and her total of 1,064 assists, eclipses her school record from a year ago by one. The Arapahoe High School product dished out a career-best 55 assists in the Beacons' 3-2 road victory over MIT on October 17 and fired a personal-high of six aces at University of Southern Maine on October 8. Hanneman has served up at least one ace in 22 matches for a season total of 43. The second-year player consistently contributed on the defensive side of the net with five or more digs on 17 occasions, including 17 in a 3-2 win over Tufts University on September 11 and has gotten up for two or more blocks seven times.

Hanneman has played in 226 sets over 67 career matches to rank 10th on the Beacons' career list and owns the school's career record for assists with 2,127. She is currently seventh on the UMass Boston career list with 100 aces and has compiled 394 digs, 59 total blocks and 111 kills on a .235 hitting mark.

Rattigan has put together an outstanding campaign to earn a spot on the Second Team as a middle hitter. The sophomore has excelled as one of the Beacons' most effective hitters with a .376 hitting percentage to rank second among the team's players with over 250 attack attempts. Her hitting consistency has been exceptional, producing 31 outings with a positive hitting clip, including 13 efforts that saw her register a .500 mark or better. Rattigan has averaged 1.26 kills per set, but has been an intimidating force on the defensive side of the net as well with 0.69 blocks per game with 75 total blocks, including 24 solos in 109 sets over 32 matches to rank second on the team. Despite, battling through sore knees during the season, she has still managed to record at least one block in all but four matches, including a season-high of seven in a 3-2 victory over Chapman University on September 5. The graduate of Fontbonne Academy has gotten up for two or more blocks on 20 occasions. One of her finest performances of the year came in the season opener, when she spiked for eight kills on a .778 hitting clip in addition to three blocks and a pair of digs.

The six-foot Rattigan has seen action in 223 sets over 66 matches, while compiling 267 kills on a .308 hitting percentage. She owns the school standard for career block assists with 110 to go with 58 block solos, which is the seventh-most in school annals. She has not attempted a serve this season, but racked up 32 a year ago and has registered 90 digs for her career.

UMass Boston is enjoying its best season ever, having won a school-record 16 straight matches and 29 of its last 31 for a 29-4 overall record, including 7-0 in Little East Conference play to capture the school's first-ever LEC regular season and tournament crown. The Beacons earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth and will take on Westfield State College on Thursday, November 12 at 3:00 p.m. at Cousens Gymnasium on the campus of Tufts University in Medford, MA. UMass Boston is currently ranked second in the latest NCAA Division III New England Women's Volleyball poll and stood as the number one squad in the NCAA Division III New England Women's Volleyball Association poll for the first three weeks of the season. The team has also received votes on four occasions in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III National Weekly Polls with nine, seven, 10 and six votes, respectively from September 15 to October 6.