HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The banner year of accolades for the Southern Miss Volleyball program continued into December for all facets of the roster. Head coach Amanda Berkley took home AVCA Southwest Region Coach of the Year honors, Catherine Repsher was named Freshman of the Year, and Stephany Purdue (honorable mention) and Sarah Bell placed as well.
Southern Miss tied with Texas for most representatives on the Southwestern team. The group marked the first Golden Eagles on an AVCA All-Region team since Kelsea Seymour represented the Midwest from 2009-11. Ashley Mell also made it in 2009 and 2010.
"I'm really proud of Stephany, Cat and Sarah for their AVCA honors," Berkley said. "I think it is really a testament to the team on their success this year, so these awards are shared with the entire Southern Miss Volleyball team. I'm so happy for these players and their recognition."
Berkley's four years as the head coach have been the most successful of any four-year span in Southern Miss history, registering a total of 84 wins. This season she guided the team to the second-seed in the Conference USA Championships, its highest since 2009. The squad finished 23-8 and produced five All-Conference selections, a program record.
Repsher finished third in blocks for C-USA, and her 133 were the most by a Southern Miss freshman since 1990. Her C-USA Freshman of the Year award was the first-such league honor in Golden Eagle history as well. Repsher was also lethal on the offensive end, surpassing a .400 hitting percentage 10 times on the season. Included in that was a 14-kill, 10-block performance in her collegiate debut against McNeese State for the Carl Junction, Mo., native.
Purdue, a senior from Mesa, Ariz., became the program's all-time career kills leader on Senior Day, as the Golden Eagles rallied from two sets down to defeat Rice. The first-team All-Conference pick ended her tenure with 1,631 kills and increased her hitting percentage by 82 points from her junior season (in which she also totaled 524 kills). Her senior class, including Chanel Joyce and Makareta Rademakers, is the winningest in program history.
Bell's first two years at Southern Miss have been the best anyone on the team, or country, could ask for. She is already 47 assists away from reaching the No. 6 spot on the school's career record list and had a team-high .310 hitting percentage, a 56-point raise from last season. Included in that latter stat was an 8-for-8 match in a sweep of UAB. Bell was the conference leader in assists and ranks No. 9 nationally (11.47 per set). As a whole, the San Antonio native even helped Southern Miss to a 55-point hitting percentage improvement from her freshman to sophomore season.
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