OMAHA, Neb. — Brittany Witt was named BIG EAST Libero of the Year, Keeley Davis was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Year and Kirsten Bernthal Booth leads the BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year in honors that were announced by the conference office on Wednesday, Nov. 27.
All told, six-time defending champion Creighton had a program record five women named All-BIG EAST in a vote of league coaches, as the conference recognized Megan Ballenger, Madelyn Cole, Keeley Davis, Brittany Witt and Jaela Zimmerman on its 18-woman All-Conference Team.
Booth leads the BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year for the third time, having also been recognized in 2015 and 2016. She directed a team that was picked to finish second in the league’s preseason poll to an unprecedented sixth consecutive outright regular-season volleyball title. The Bluejays went 24-4 overall against a rigorous schedule, including a 17-1 mark in league play. Creighton owns four wins over top-15 teams this season and enters the BIG EAST Championship ranked 10th in the country. Booth is assisted by Angie Oxley Behrens, Craig Dyer and Noel Carpio. Micah Rhodes serves as Director of Operations and Brian Hurler is the program’s graduate manager and technical coordinator.
Witt earned Libero of the Year honors for the second time in the last three seasons, after a stellar campaign that saw the senior lead the conference in digs per set both in all matches and in league play. She ranks 23rd nationally with 5.11 digs per set and is nine digs from being the first player in program history with four different seasons of 500 or more digs. Witt has had nine digs or more in all 28 matches this fall and is just 30 digs from passing Kate Elman as the Creighton leader in career digs. This is the second time that the Omaha native has brought home All-BIG EAST honors, having also been honored in 2017 when she was first named BIG EAST Libero of the Year.
Davis was a unanimous selection as BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, which comes as no surprise for Highlands Ranch, Colo., native who earned 10-of-13 possible honors as BIG EAST Freshman of the Week. Davis leads all BIG EAST freshmen and ranks among the top 10 players in points per set, kills per set and aces per set in league play. Davis, who also leads CU with 3.29 kills per set, was named AVCA National Player of the Week on October 15, three days after pounding 31 kills in a road win at then-No. 10 Marquette. Davis owns 18 matches with 10 more kills this season and is second on the Bluejay club with 31 aces this fall. Davis was also named to the conference’s All-Freshman Team.
Cole earned her second consecutive All-BIG EAST accolade after once again leading the conference with 11.42 assists per set. Cole ranks 26th nationally in assists per set and 51st in aces per set, and her 0.51 aces per set ranked third in league play. Cole tops the Bluejays with 13 double-doubles this fall, and the senior setter was named to the All-Tournament Team at both the Creighton Classic and UNI Tournament. The Dallas, Texas, product surpassed 4,000 career assists and 1,000 career digs in a win at Xavier on November 16.
Ballenger was named All-BIG EAST in 2019 after she was a Second Team All-BIG EAST choice a year ago. The fifth-year senior from Ankeny, Iowa, ranked third in the BIG EAST with .330 hitting in league play. She was named Defensive Player of the Week on September 24 and ranks in the top-10 in program history with 123 career starts (5th) and 360 total career blocks (10th).
Zimmerman earned All-BIG EAST honors for the first time after a sophomore season that saw her average 3.06 kills and 2.34 digs per set. The Lincoln, Nebraska native ranks in the top-13 in the BIG EAST in points per set (6th), kills per set (7th), aces per set (13th) and hitting percentage (13th). She was named MVP of the Creighton Classic on Sept. 21 and two days ago was honored as the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week.
Marquette took home the other major award, as senior Allie Barber was a unanimous selection as BIG EAST Player of the Year for the second time (also 2017). Fourteen of the 18 women honored will be in competition at this weekend’s BIG EAST Championship, as Marquette, Villanova and St. John’s each had three players recognized.
Top-seeded and 10th-ranked Creighton (24-4, 17-1 BIG EAST) returns to the floor at the BIG EAST Championship, presented by Jeep, beginning with Friday’s 5:30 p.m. match against fourth-seeded St. John’s. Second-seeded and 12th-ranked Marquette hosts Villanova in the first semifinal on Friday, which starts at 2:30 p.m. from Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee, Wis.