Kristina Stewart Named Volleyball MVP
Dec. 6, 2007
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Air Force junior Kristina Stewart was named volleyball's MOST VALUABLE PLAYER, head coach Penny Lucas-White announced tonight (Dec. 6) as the Falcons' officially concluded the 2007 season with their annual end-of-year banquet at the Academy Hotel in Colorado Springs. In all, Air Force handed out 10 awards, while recapping the season.
This year, the MVP award was selected by the players, and featured new criteria for selection. According to Lucas-White, the volleyball MVP must be someone who is "loyal to USAFA, the staff, the team and the program. Someone who has a voice in the locker room and a great work ethic, but still would sacrifice herself for the greater good of the team. Someone who will push her teammates, while also being the voice of reason and their biggest encourager. Someone who has earned her teammate's trust and respect, because she has been in the trenches with them."
Stewart, who claimed the team's Spirit Award on three separate occasions and started 21 matches, averaged 1.73 kills per game and 1.62 digs per contest.
Freshmen Nichole Stilwell and Caroline Kurtz shared the team's ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award, as both athletes posted standout numbers during their first season. Stilwell was a presence at the net, accounting for 75 total blocks. She vaulted into the program's Division I record book after recording 63 assisted blocks during the season. She also tallied the team's top hitting percentage at .210, connecting on 188 of 467 attempts, while committing just 90 errors. In addition, her 188 kills were the third-highest total on the team.
In addition to the "Rookie" honors, Kurtz was the program's recipient of the ALL-AROUND PERFORMER award, which is annually given to the Falcon that has a solid understanding of all skills. Kurtz, who was second on the team with 203 kills, led the Falcons with 230 digs and a 2.47 digs-per-game average. The 230 digs are the seventh-most in a single season of Division I history. With three double-doubles, Kurtz led the team in kills during 10 matches this season. She also added 14 assists, 14 service aces and 19 blocks to her stat line.
Sophomore Michelle Harrington was awarded the UNSUNG HERO award, which is designated to the Air Force athlete that gets the job done during each and every match, although they may not statistically stand out. Harrington continued numerous rallies throughout the course of the season with her blocking abilities. However, she did put up some stellar statistics as well. An all-tournament selection at the Bulldog Invitational, Harrington led the team with 17 solo blocks, which is 10th in the program's Division I single-season records. She also posted the top-two attacking percentages of the season, including a .615 average against Chicago State.
Classmate Jocelyn Booker was named the MOST IMPROVED PLAYER, despite a season cut short by injury. Booker's season got off to a fast start, as she tallied four service aces in the Falcons' match against Quinnipiac. Out-serving the entire opposing lineup, Booker helped the Falcons to their best ace output of the season (15). In addition to finishing the year with seven aces, she added 52 kills, six assists, 18 digs and 11 blocks.
In its first year of existence, the BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER award was given to fellow sophomore Katie Batchelder. Starting 28 matches for the Falcons, Batchelder led the team with 241 kills and a 2.56 per-game average. She also added 14 assists and contributed to 25 points off of service aces. The team's top kill producer in 15 matches, she also recorded a team and Mountain West Conference-leading 29 kills at Marist. In addition, the Air Force Invitational all-tournament team member tallied a career-best seven aces against Quinnipiac, which tied the program record for aces in a game.
The Falcons reinstated the BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER honor following an eight year absence and senior Morgan Dolan was the recipient. Dolan served as the starting libero in 16 matches, while taking part in several other games throughout the season. Dolan dug out 2.45 attacks per game, which was the second-best average on the team. In addition, her 186 total digs was the third-most on the team. Offensively adding 10 service aces throughout the season, Dolan accounted for a career-best 22 digs against San Diego State.
The freshmen duo of Jessica Hellmann and Stephanie Stanford shared the COACHES AWARD. This pair stepped up to provide some much-needed depth at the setter position. Hellmann averaged 3.43 assists per game (199 total), while leading the team in helpers during five matches. She set a career-best 22 against Wyoming, while clearing the 20-assist plateau on three occasions. In addition, Hellmann added 17 kills, four aces and 11 blocks. Stanford posted 122 assists for a 2.47 per game average. She also posted 15 service aces, which was the third-most on the team. Included in that total was a four-ace output at TCU, which was the best single-match performance in the Mountain West during a conference match.
Another pair of freshmen shared an award, as Julia Hansen and Kelly Spencer shared the SPIRIT AWARD. This duo was always there to cheer on their teammates and played so well off one another, teamed up to win a pair of the weekly Spirit Awards. Hansen, who tallied 11 kills, four digs and three blocks, also claimed the weekly honor on one other occasion. A five-time starter at libero, Spencer individually won the weekly award on two occasions, while accounting for 107 digs. Included in that total was a 29-dig performance against North Carolina A&T, which is a new single-match record for the Academy at the Division I level.
Rounding out the awards presented tonight was the LEADERSHIP AWARD, which was designated to senior Kim Kallabis. In her second consecutive season serving as team captain, Kallabis broke into the program's single-season Division I record book with 671 assists (seventh). She also became just the fourth Falcon in Division I history to move into the all-time career list with 1482 (10th).
AIR FORCE VOLLEYBALL 2007 AWARD WINNERS