PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Brown volleyball team held their annual team banquet in downtown Providence at the Waterplace restaurant where they said goodbye to five seniors while awarding its season honors. Senior captain Annika Gliottone (Warwick, R.I.) was named Team MVP, while senior Laurielle Hofer (Laguna Beach, Calif.) earned the coaches award and rookie Sabin Ray (Portland, Ore.) was named the Most Improved Player.
Most Valuable Player: Gliottone
Gliottone, a unanimous selection by her teammates for the 2011 honor, led Brown with 5.07 digs per set this season, totaling 436. She took over as the team's setter and finished second on the team with 198 assists. Gliottone also led the team with 36 service aces.
"Annika has always been a very talented and skilled player," said head coach Diane Short. "She led by example through her work ethic and team first attitude and had the gift of making players around her better."
Gliottone will go down as one of the most versatile players in the history of the Brown volleyball program as well as one of the best defensive players to ever take the court. She ranks fifth all-time in digs at Brown.
"To rank fifth in digs is truly remarkable because I have asked Annika to take the setter role (at times), as well as a couple of injuries that kept her out of playing," remarked Short.
The four-year starter was tabbed as an honorable mention selection by the Ivy League, leading the Bears defensive unit for most of the season as the team's libero, while also filling in as setter for several games.
"One thing that I think cannot be overlooked is Annika's high volleyball IQ," stated Short. "She always saw the big picture of the game and her tracking skills are the best I have ever seen."
Coaches Award: Hofer
"This year was a great year for Laurielle. She blossomed as a team leader and had a positive impact on both players and coaches," said Short. "As a player it can be frustrating at times, especially when roles change. However, Laurielle displayed positive energy during practices and matches, and was a real spark for the team numerous times."
Hofer finished the season with a 1.33 kills per set average, and 21 total blocks, good for fourth on the team.
"Laurielle is proactive and a great communicator. I have had many players talk to me about how she helped them during the practices. She showed true senior leadership this year," said Short.
Most Improved: Ray
The 2011 squad determined in a team vote that Ray, a middle blocker, was the team's most improved player. She joined the team just prior to the start of the season, but worked her way on to the court late in the season.
"Coming to Brown to play in the middle, we worked on defense and serve receive often and Sabin especially improved in these two areas," said Short. "She became a very good passer and covered a big area on defense. I feel Sabin's mental focus and confidence helped in her development this year."
Players who received team sweaters:
Freshmen: Taylor Bantle (Pacific Palisades, Calif.), Kathryn Conner (Newport Beach, Calif.), Marielena Gamboa-Castro (Fern Park, Fla.), Brittany Link (Hinckley, Ohio), Maddie Lord (La Jolla, Calif.), Ray, Maryl Vanden Bos (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) and Michelle Watt (San Roman, Calif.).
Seniors: Laura Casselberry (Chicago, Ill.), Jessica Gandy (Coventry, R.I.), Gliottone, Hofer, Spencer McAndrews (Los Angeles, Calif.).