Dec. 12, 2000

NORMAN, Okla. - Five Oklahoma volleyball student-athletes were honored at the team's annual team banquet held last week. Headlining the group of honorees was senior setter Carolyn Kittell who captured the team's Most Valuable Player award. Other team awards given out that evening included Best Offensive Player - senior Cathy Cook, Best Defensive Player - sophomore Liz Newman, Most Improved - freshman Logan Pierce and Sooner Strength - sophomore Jessica Barney.

"Each of the players who received awards were well deserving of the honors," commented Head Coach Kalani Mahi.

Most Valuable Player - senior setter Carolyn Kittell

Kittell claimed MVP honors after finishing off her career as one of the top setters in school history. Named as one of the team co-captains to begin the season, Kittell started her third season at the setter position and led the team in assists with an 11.18 per game average and digs with a 2.57 per game average. The Laguna Beach, Calif., native was also an offensive threat averaging 1.13 kills per game. Kittell closed out her career ranked fourth on the school's all-time assists list with 3,361 assists. She also captured her second-straight Academic All-Big 12 honor at the conclusion of the season.

"Carolyn in the setting position was a natural leader for us this year," explained Mahi. "She had an incredible ability to control our offense and set our attack and she also brought a lot of energy to our team."

Best Offensive Player - senior middle blocker Cathy Cook

Cook was the obvious choice for Best Offensive Player on the team this season. The Irvine, Calif., native finished the season leading the team in three categories: kills per game (4.37), hitting percentage (.331) and total block solos (17). A team co-captain along with Kittell, Cook's kills per game and hitting average was good for sixth and 10th best in the league, respectively. For her career at OU, Cook stands as the school's all-time hitting percentage leader with a career average of .343.

"Cathy was named as a pre-season all-conference candidate at the beginning of the season and although she did not garner any postseason honors, we felt that she was still one of the top players in the Big 12," said Mahi.

Best Defensive Player - sophomore defensive specialist Liz Newman

In only her second season, Newman emerged as one of the most valuable defensive players on the team this season. The Tulsa, Okla., native's digs per game average of 1.69 was tops among the squad's primary defensive specialist. Newman showed consistency for good ball control, passing and defending throughout the season.

""Liz was one of the best on the team in ball control all season long," expressed Mahi. "She understands the serve and receive aspect of the game extremely well and was a good passer and defender for us."

Most Improved - freshman outside hitter Logan Pierce

Pierce jumped out to a fast start in her Sooner career. The freshman outside hitter tallied a double-double performance in her first collegiate match against New Mexico State, turning in a 12 kill and 10 dig effort against the Aggies. Pierce finished the Lamar Cardinal Classic with 26 kills and 40 digs over four matches. Though the Durango, Colo., native struggled midway through the season, she rebounded well towards the end of the season and finished the year in a starting role and averaging 1.62 kills per game and 1.54 digs per game.

"Logan was put in a starting role at the end of the season and handled the responsibility extremely well. She also stepped up and performed well for us in a lot of big matches at the end of the season," said Mahi.

Sooner Strength - sophomore setter Jessica Barney

This award is given by Robin Schmidt, the team's strength and conditioning coordinator, and is awarded to the team member that exhibits strong effort and dedicated work ethic in the weight room.

"Jessica has been a positive influence in the weight room this year. As a newcomer, she has stepped right in and has been a real leader for us in the weight room and on the court," said Mahi.