Nov. 17, 2009

LEXINGTON, KY - University of Massachusetts Boston volleyball player Kate McWhorter (Bakersfield, CA) has been named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball All-America Third Team, while Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, CA) was selected to the AVCA All-America Honorable Mention squad it was announced today by the AVCA.

The pair become the first-ever UMass Boston volleyball players to be named All-America and the first Beacons in any sport since Rob Grieco was named an All-America for men's indoor track and field in 1998. They are the first athletes from a team sport at UMass Boston to earn the honor since 1996 when women's basketball player Linda Caruso and men's soccer player Carlos Fernandes earned the distinction. They are also the first Beacons' teammates to be named All-America since Jackie James and Charlotte Winward were tabbed for women's outdoor track and field in 1989.

The award caps a highly decorated season for McWhorter. The senior has already been named All-Region by the AVCA and the New England Women's Volleyball Association, marking her second straight year as an All-Region honoreer, having earned Honorable Mention accolades last year and is the only volleyball player in school history to be named All-Region twice. This is McWhorter's fifth honor in the past week after being selected the Little East Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight year and earning an invite to the NEWVA Senior Classic, earlier in the week. She is just the third player in LEC history to earn the Offensive Player 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 started all 35 matches, while missing just one of 122 sets on the year for the most matches played and second-most sets played in school history. A three-time LEC Offensive Player of the Week honoree in 2009, she ranked second in the Little East Conference with 4.01 kills and 4.64 points per set, while standing third with a .385 hitting percentage. The 5'9" hitter was a force from behind the serving line as well with 0.45 aces to place seventh among LEC leaders. She ranked second on the team with 2.68 digs per set and fourth with 0.30 total blocks. Her season was nothing short of spectacular and is one of the best for any player in school history with 485 kills to fall just eight shy of her school record set last year, 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 was 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 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 was also an effective weapon with at least one ace in 26 of 35 matches, including two or more on 13 occasions and a career-high of six at University of Southern Maine on October 8. McWhorter was outstanding defensively as well with 10 or more digs in 18 matches and two or more total blocks nine times. Her play did 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 rose 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 LEC championship on November 7. She also posted a pair of double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament with 17 kills and 10 digs vs. Westfield State College and 19 kills and 21 digs vs. Williams College and earned a spot on the NCAA Tournament New England Regional All-Tournament Team.

McWhorter played her first two seasons for NCAA Division I California State University Bakersfield, before transferring to UMass Boston last season. She became the first player in school history to not only earn AVCA All-New England Region Honorable Mention honors last year, but also 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 373 sets over 110 matches, while spiking for 1,282 kills and owning a .319 hitting mark. She split time as a hitter and setter her freshman season and has compiled 335 assists, 742 digs, 112 aces and 132 total blocks for her career. In just 68 career matches and 230 sets at UMass Boston, McWhorter already places second on the career kills list with 978, sixth with 62 block assists, sixth with 590 digs, ninth with 97 aces and is the all-time leader with a .374 hitting percentage.

Thompson's selection puts an exclamation point on the greatest rookie season of any volleyball player in school history. She was also chosen for a pair of All-Region teams to become the first freshman in school and LEC history to be named to the AVCA All-Region squad and was one of just 10 freshmen in the nation to earn the distinction. She was also selected to the NEWVA All-New England Honorable Mention Team. She has been definitively recognized as the top rookie in New England, earning NEWVA Rookie of the Year honors, AVCA New England Region Freshman of the Year accolades in addition to becoming the fourth player in school history to be selected the LEC Rookie of the Year and the third in four seasons. Her selection marked 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 became 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 was one of the LEC's top players, leading the league with 0.71 aces per set, while ranking third with 4.57 points, fourth with 3.44 kills per set and fifth with a .338 hitting percentage. The 6'2" hitter was the only player for UMass Boston to play in all 122 sets over 35 matches to break the school record for sets played and tie the school standard for matches played. She also stood third for UMass Boston with 0.61 total blocks and 2.54 digs per set. Her season was one of the best by any player in school history with 420 kills for the fourth-most ever and the most ever by a freshman, while her hitting mark was the third-most efficient in school annals. Her total of 48 block assists and 87 aces also put her fifth on the all-time Beacons' single-season list. Consistency was a hallmark of her game in her first year of collegiate volleyball with at least one ace in 32 of 35 matches, including a streak of 15 straight from September 4-29 and a string of 16 consecutive matches from October 8 to November 7 that saw her average a commanding 1.00 aces per set with 53 over 53 frames. She fired no less than three aces in nine of her last 15 outings and also racked up 10 or more kills in 25 of 35 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 was 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 six, including a three matches of .750 or above. Thompson showed off her defensive prowess as well with at least one block in all but eight matches and scooped up at least five digs on 29 occasions, including a career-high of 21 vs. Westfield State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on November 12.

UMass Boston finished the greatest season in school history with a 30-5 record, including a 7-0 record to earn its first-ever regular season LEC title, before winning its first-ever LEC Tournament Championship with a 3-1 victory over Plymouth State on November 7. The Beacons earned an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time in school annals and responded with a first round victory over Westfield State, 3-1, on November 12, before falling to Williams, 3-1, on November 13 to end the run and their school-record 17-match winning streak. UMass Boston owned the number two ranking in the latest NCAA Division III New England Women's Volleyball poll and stood as the number one squad in the NCAA Division III NEWVA poll for the first three weeks of the season. The team has also received votes on four occasions in the AVCA Division III National Weekly Polls with nine, seven, 10 and six votes, respectively from September 15 to October 6.