Kelley Collins named Little East Conference Women' Volleyball
Defensive Player of the Year for the third straight season

Paxton Thornton named to First Team... Collins and Jennifer Hogan on Second Team

Official release from Jack Holleran - LEC Director of Communications

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA (Nov. 9) —  The University of Massachusetts Boston earned two of the five volleyball major awards this afternoon when the 2011 All-Little East teams were announced. Junior Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, Calif.) was named the Offensive Player of the Year for the second-straight season, while freshman middle hitter Kirsten Morrison (North Reading, Mass.) was selected as the Rookie of the Year. Western Connecticut State University senior libero Kelley Collins (Massapequa, N.Y.) was honored as the Defensive Player of the Year for the third consecutive season, and Plymouth State boss Chris Kilmer was tabbed as the Coach of the Year. The University of Southern Maine earned the Team Sportsmanship Award for the second-straight season.

In addition to the major awards program, the Little East office honored a seven-member first and second team, respectively.

Thompson became just the third student-athlete to repeat as the top offensive player in the conference circuit. The junior outside hitter from Moorpark, Calif. is also making her third appearance on the All-Little East first-team. In almost three seasons on the court, Thompson has become the Beacon career leader in kills (1,327)—putting an additional 136 between the previous standard. She currently ranks among the national leaders in points per set (ninth, 5.13) and kills per set (11th, 4.26). Thompson leads the conference in points (5.13), while ranking second in kills (413) and third in hitting percentage (.335). She has matched the UMass Boston single-season record for block assists (62), while moving into fourth in hitting percentage and sixth in kills. Thompson became the first Beacon to be selected as the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III Player of the Week for her performance on the court for the week ending Oct. 16. A starter in all 30 matches, Thompson has reached double figures in kills 25 times, including producing at least 20 winners twice. She smashed a season-high 27 kills against Salve Regina on Sept. 10. Thompson has recorded at least 10 digs in nine matches, including a season-best 16 at Tufts University on Sept. 27. She was named the Little East Offensive Player of the Week in five of the nine times the award was presented.

Collins is the first student-athlete in volleyball to win the prestigious top defensive player in three consecutive seasons. The Massapequa, N.Y. product is also making her second-straight appearance on the All-Little East, second-team. Collins sits atop the conference standings in digs (697), while ranking 19th nationally in digs per set (5.96). She recorded her third highest single-season total for digs this fall, which is also third on the Colonials all-time single-season list. In 31 matches, Collins reached double figures in digs 30 times, including 20 contests with at least 20. She posted a season-high of 33 digs against Wesleyan University (Conn.) on Oct. 22. A Western Connecticut student-athlete has earned the Little East Defensive Player of the Year award six times since 2002.

Morrison is the fourth consecutive UMass Boston player and sixth overall to be honored as the top rookie in the conference circuit. The freshman from North Reading, Mass. is also making her debut on the All-Little East, second-team. Morrison is currently ranked among the Little East leaders in hitting percentage (fourth, .322). She appeared in 29 matches for the Beacons this season, registering 174 kills, 27 digs, and 10 assists. Morrison reached double digits in kills three times on the campaign, including recording 13 winners against MIT on Oct. 15. She also logged her highest hitting percentage (.765) against the Engineers, when she registered a winner on 13 of her 17 swings. Morrison was a force at the net, registering 67 total blocks. She was second on the squad in block solos (18) and third in block assists (49). She was named the Little East Rookie of the Week twice on the season.

Kilmer is just the second Panther to be selected as the Little East Coach of the Year, joining his predecessor Moira Long who earned the award in 2002. Under his guidance, Plymouth State boasted an overall record of 23-10, marking the 11th time in the past 14 years the Panthers have reached the 20-win plateau. In just his first season at the helm, Kilmer led Plymouth State to a share of the program's third regular-season title with a 6-1 mark. The Panthers closed strong down the stretch, winning 10 of their final 11 regular-season matches. Plymouth State earned the top seed and right to host the semifinal and championship rounds of the Little East Championship Tournament for the first time in program history. The Panthers advanced to the championship round before bowing out to second-seeded UMass Boston. Kilmer will lead Plymouth State into the 2011 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Tournament this weekend.

Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes. Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.

2011 All-Little East Volleyball Teams

First Team

Name

Class

Position

Institution

Ellyse Davis

Senior

Middle Blocker

Keene State College

Cassy Hanneman

Senior

Setter

University of Massachusetts Boston

Bridget O'Bryant

Senior

Outside Hitter

Keene State College

Molly Rattigan

Senior

Outside Hitter

University of Massachusetts Boston

Casey Stoodley

Junior

Outside Hitter

Plymouth State University

Shannon Thompson

Junior

Outside Hitter

University of Massachusetts Boston

Paxton Thornton

Junior

Outside Hitter

Western Connecticut State University

 

Second Team

Sarah Cady

Senior

Setter

Plymouth State University

Kelley Collins

Senior

Libero

Western Connecticut State University

Jennifer Hogan

Freshman

Setter

Western Connecticut State University

Allie Jones

Sophomore

Outside Hitter

Plymouth State University

Corrine Porter

Sophomore

Outside Hitter

University of Massachusetts Boston

Kirsten Morrison

Freshman

Middle Hitter

University of Massachusetts Boston

Laurie Whalen

Senior

Setter

Keene State College

 

Offensive Player of the Year

Shannon Thompson, University of Massachusetts Boston

 

Defensive Player of the Year

Kelley Collins, Western Connecticut State University

 

Rookie of the Year

Kirsten Morrison, University of Massachusetts Boston

 

Coach of the Year

Chris Kilmer, Plymouth State University 

 

Team Sportsmanship Award

University of Southern Maine