Jan. 27, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Members of the Northwestern Volleyball family came together on Saturday evening for an end-of-season banquet to recognize the program's numerous accomplishments and achievements, both on and off the court.
During the awards portion of the evening, members of the coaching staff handed out several accolades that were accumulated during the season. Senior Stephanie Holthus finished her career in Evanston by earning American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America honorable mention, AVCA All-North Region, and her third consecutive All-Big Ten nod. The Elgin, Ill., native was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Sept. 23 and the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week the following day. Holthus finished her career in Purple and White as the program's all-time leader in kills with 1,797.
Holthus was unable to attend the banquet in person as she has begun her professional career with Lancheras de Cataño in Puerto Rico. Her first match was scheduled for Sunday evening, but through the power of technology, Holthus was able to take in the festivities over 2,000 miles away and address those in attendance via Skype.
Freshman Caleigh Ryan also reeled in several honors throughout the course of her inaugural campaign. The Glen Ellyn, Ill., native was named both the Big Ten Setter and Freshman of the Week on Sept. 23 and earned the Freshman of the Week honor again on Oct. 14. Ryan, who led the conference in assists in 2013, also garnered AVCA All-North honorable mention.
The Wildcats had just as much success in the classroom during the fall. The volleyball team posted a cumulative 3.5 GPA last quarter, the highest amongst all 19 Northwestern teams. In addition, the following five 'Cats were named Academic All-Big Ten: Katie Dutchman, Stephanie Holthus, Abbie Kraus, Monica McGreal and Savannah Paffen.
Three additional awards were bestowed at the banquet on Saturday night by the coaching staff. The Wildcat Academic Award for the student-athlete with the highest GPA went to newcomer Kayla Morin. Morin, with a mark of 4.0, was one of six 'Cats with a GPA of 3.8 or higher during the fall quarter.
The Wildcat Leaps and Bounds Award is presented to the volleyball team member who made the most significant improvements over the course of a season. The 2013 winner was libero Caroline Niedospial. After taking a redshirt during her second season at Northwestern in 2012, Niedospial bounced back to become the team's libero and rank second in the Big Ten in digs with 4.46 per set.
The final honor handed out Saturday was the Margie Fitzpatrick Iron Will Award. This decoration is given to the Wildcat who, in the face of adversity, demonstrated strong leadership, outstanding work ethic and unwavering support of her teammates. The 2013 recipient was McGreal, a vocal leader who did whatever was asked of her throughout the course of the season day in and day out.
Head coach Keylor Chan also addressed the room that was full of players, families, support staff, alums, board members and friends of NU volleyball. Chan recalled some of his fondest memories from this past season like wins at Purdue and against Illinois, as well as a narrow five-set defeat at Nebraska. The head coach also looked forward to the bright future ahead for the Wildcats.
The banquet also featured a highlight video produced by the coaching staff and silent and live auctions with great prizes such as tickets to professional sporting events in Chicago and one-of-a-kind experiences within the Northwestern Volleyball program.
A photo gallery from the banquet, courtesy of NUVB Board Member Tim Bimmerle, is available at the top of the page.
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