CCU freshman Hardeman sweeps Big South honors

ccuvolley-hardemanFreshman outside hitter Leah Hardeman was named both the Big South’s Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, as the conference announced its annual volleyball awards on Tuesday.

Hardeman follows Liberty’s Caroline Douglas as just the second student-athlete in Big South volleyball history to earn both distinctions in their first year of competition. Hardeman was additionally named a first team all-conference and all-freshman team selection.

Three other Chants were also honored by the Big South on Tuesday. Junior middle blocker Eszter Nagy joins Hardeman as a first team all-conference selection, while senior setter Sam Skryd was named honorable mention all-conference and senior libero Jenna Orner made the league’s All-Academic Team.

Hardeman is one of two Chanticleers to have played in every set for Coastal this season. During that time she amassed 411 kills, becoming the first Coastal player to break the 400-kill mark since Chelsey Kimes in 2010. Hardeman’s 3.99 kills per set rank second in the Big South, while her 4.62 points per set and 0.36 aces per set lead the league.

The Clarkston, Ga., native has also been one of the nation’s top newcomers this year, as she closed the regular season ranking fourth in kills per set, third in total kills  and third in points per set amongst all NCAA Division I freshmen. Hardeman was a five-time Big South Freshman of the Week honoree during the regular season, passing Kimes’ previous Coastal record of four.

Nagy leads the Big South and ranks 23rd nationally in hitting percentage, putting down 236 kills on 474 attempts with just 53 errors. She also leads Coastal and ranks ninth in the conference with 94 total blocks, while her 0.92 blocks per set is seventh-best in the league. The Budapest, Hungary native has recorded at least four blocks in 15 matches this season, and has hit over .400 in 14 matches in which she had at least 10 attacks.

Skryd has been Coastal’s leading setter, playing in 101 of a possible 103 sets this season. Her 943 assists this season are a career-high, and moved her into seventh place among Coastal’s all-time career assists leaders. Skryd 9.33 assists per set rank fifth in the Big South, while her assist total is seventh-best in the league. The Naperville, Ill. native was named the Big South’s Player of the Week earlier this season after earning Tournament MVP honors at the Jacksonville Marriott Classic.

Orner, who holds just under a 3.7 cumulative GPA, was named to the Big South All-Academic Team. The senior libero from Carlisle, Pa. is the second Chant to play in all 103 sets for Coastal this season. Her 475 total digs and 4.611 digs per set rank fifth in the Big South, and she has recorded 20 or more digs in 10 matches this season. Orner was also named the Tournament MVP of the Coastal Carolina Invitational earlier this season.

The Chanticleers enter the Big South Championship quarterfinal round on Thursday as the league’s second seed after finishing the regular season with a 22-6 overall record, and an 11-3 mark in the Big South play. The 2014 Chants are the first Coastal team since 2008 to record over 20 wins in a season, and have won the fourth-most matches in program history.

Coastal will face Gardner-Webb in Thursday’s final quarterfinal match, which is set to begin at approximately 7 pm. Coastal Carolina will serve as the host institution for the 2014 Big South Volleyball Championship. All matches will be held at The HTC Center.

Photo courtesy of Big South Conference

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