Feb. 9, 2012
The Rice Owls volleyball program conducted its annual awards banquet Thursday night and honored its players and season.
Nancy Cole, a junior middle blocker from Pasadena, Texas, and Pasadena Memorial H.S., was named as the squad's most valuable player. In 2011, Cole led Rice in kills with 378 (3.23 kills per set) and she was tops on the team with 26 matches in double-digit kills and second on team with 121 blocks (1.03 blocks per set). Cole was fourth in Conference USA in hitting percentage (.335) and ranked seventh in kills. She was selected All-C-USA First Team, AVCA All-Midwest Region, and AVCA All-America Honorable Mention.
"Nancy (Cole) improved the start of the season through the end and she is extremely competitive and hates to lose," commented Owl head coach Genny Volpe. "She consistently gave our opponents a lot of trouble on the court."
Earning the team's most improved honor went to sophomore Mariah Riddlesprigger (Fresno, Calif.). Riddlesprigger played in 112 sets and averaged 2.67 digs per set to rank third on the team. She also tallied 192 kills on the season.
Said Volpe, "Mariah (Riddlesprigger) really made huge strides not only on the court but in the classroom. She is a team player and honestly may receive this award again down the road because we know we still have not seen the best of her yet."
Junior team captain Laurie McNamara received Rice's commitment award. From Coppell, Texas, McNamara was second on the team in kills per set with 2.51 average and second in kills with 294.
"Laurie (McNamara) takes on a lot of responsibility for the team and she takes pride in knowing as much as possible about who we are going to play even before I present the scouting report," stated Volpe. "She is also very committed to her studies as she sports a 3.9 grade point average."
Freshman Jillian Humphrey was named as the team's newcomer of the year. Humphrey, from Shoreacres, Texas, led Rice in blocks with a 1.18 blocks per set average and with 138 total blocks. She was also fourth on the team in kills with 244 (2.09 kills per set). Humphrey was also selected to the All-C-USA Freshman Team.
Commented Volpe, "Jillian Humphrey has an amazing presence at the net and made an immediate impact in the middle position. She has a very bright future."
Senior Jordan Meredith was honored with Rice's scholar athlete award. Meredith, from Honolulu, Hawai'i, is a sport management major and has a 3.92 grade point average. "Jordan (Meredith) transferred to Rice from Boston College which is not easily done, but she is an extremely hard worker and dedicated to her academics and certainly has a bright future," said Volpe.
The Owls finished the 2011 campaign with an 18-13 record and tied for second place in Conference USA with 13-7 mark. For the 2012 season, Volpe returns 11 letterwinners and five starters from the 2011 team.