Katie Batchelder Named Volleyball's Most Valuable Player
Dec. 10, 2006
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Air Force volleyball team officially closed out the 2006 season on Sunday (Dec. 10) with its annual end-of-the-year banquet at the Best Western-Academy Hotel in Colorado Springs. The coaching staff, led by head coach Penny Lucas-White, handed out the yearly awards, while recapping a season that originally featured 15 newcomers and just six players with varsity experience.
Freshman Katie Batchelder, who was named the squad's Rookie of the Year, became the first freshman since 1996 to be honored as the team's Most Valuable Player. Classmate Michelle Harrington was named Most Improved, while junior Rebecca Gerton was selected as the Best All-Around Player(an award given to the Falcon that has a solid understanding of all skills). Sophomores Jasamine Pettie and Kristina Stewart shared the Unsung Hero Award (which is given to the Air Force athlete that gets the job done during each and every match, although they may not statistically stand out) and junior Kim Kallabis was honored with the Leadership Award.
The Falcons finished the 2006 season with a 3-25 record, earning victories over Norfolk State (3-0), Centenary (3-2) and Alcorn State (3-0). Despite the win-loss margin, several records were set or nearly matched this season. Air Force set a new Academy (NCAA Division I) single-match record with 16 service aces in its three-game victory over Norfolk State, surpassing the previous record of 13 set in 2003. The Falcons nearly reached that mark once more, putting down 14 aces against Centenary. Blocking its way to 17 total stops, Air Force nearly matched the program's Division I record of 18 that had stood for seven years.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER and ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Katie Batchelder
In addition to being the only Falcon to play in all 88 games, Batchelder was the only one to surpass the 200-kill plateau. Amassing 231 kills in her first season, she topped the rest of the field by nearly 80. The freshman led the team in kills during 17 of the team's 28 matches, including 11 of the last 13. She was also second on the team with 0.32 aces and 1.90 digs per game. She is the first player to collect Rookie of the Year and MVP honors during the same season.
MOST IMPROVED: Michelle Harrington
Despite missing part of the season due to illness, Harrington became a dominant force for the Falcons. Posting the second-best hitting percentage on the team (.138), the freshman led the squad with 0.73 blocks per game, including a team-leading 14 solo stops. Harrington recorded the team's top single-match hitting percentage (.684) against Alcorn State, putting down 13 of 19 attempts and committing no errors. That mark was the third-best single-match output in the conference this season.
BEST ALL-AROUND: Rebecca Gerton
Gerton finished her junior year with the second-best aces per game average in the Mountain West Conference. She recorded 31 aces in 82 games to average 0.38 aces per game. Those 31 aces are tied for ninth on the Falcons' Division I single-season record book. Serving primarily as a hitter, Gerton averaged 1.38 kills per game, which was the third-best output on the team. She returned to the libero position near the end of the season, finishing with 1.82 digs per game.
The sophomore duo, which both saw significant playing time as freshmen, became a strong source of knowledge for this season's first-year varsity athletes. In addition to providing support and encouragement for her teammates, Pettie averaged 1.14 kills per game, while accumulating 0.42 digs and 0.45 blocks. Stewart led the Falcons with 2.17 digs per game, while her 2.01 kills per game was ranked second.
LEADERSHIP AWARD: Kim Kallabis
Serving as the captain of the 2006 squad, Kallabis was the first non-senior to hold that title outright since 1997. As the team's primary setter, Kallabis handed out an average of 6.67 assists per game. In addition, she recorded 1.66 digs per game, which was fifth among active players. She also added 16 kills, 17 service aces and assisted on eight blocks. This is the second straight season that Kallabis has earned an award given to the player that shows great team spirit and serves her team with pride.