Photos courtesy of Yale Sports Publicity, Penn Athletic Communications and Harvard Athletic Communications
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Yale senior Kendall Polan (Cardiff, Calif.) became the first player in Ivy League history to win Women's Volleyball Player of the Year three times when the League's annual awards were announced on Thursday.
A unanimous selection, Polan had been one of six players to win the award twice. She is just the third player in League history to win the award on a unanimous vote, joining Princeton's Parker Henritze in 2007 and Yale's Cat Dailey in 2008.
Polan leads the League in assists both overall and League play. She is averaging 9.31 per set overall and an astounding 10.59 per set against Ivy foes. Her 34 aces overall this season rank second in the League. Despite her team only playing two five-set matches this season, Polan recorded double-digit digs in 12 of 23 outings, including a season-high 22 in a four-set win over Columbia, and had 14 matches with 30 or more assists. In a two-night span, Polan rolled up 110 assists in nine sets combined on the road against Dartmouth and Harvard.
Putting Polan's three-peat into perspective, the only other time the same school won Player of the Year honors in three consecutive years was from 1991-93 when Cornell's Jen Strazza and Michele Kizorek won the award. Strazza won it in 1991 and 1992, while Kizorek shared the honor in 1993.
Polan was also a first-team All-Ivy selection for the fourth consecutive year, making her the seventh player in League history to earn first-team honors all four years.
Penn's Dani Shepherd (Los Angeles) was named the League's Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight season. Shepherd won the inaugural award last year. Despite missing seven matches due to injury, Shepherd returned to her true form and led the League in digs, averaging 5.62 per set. She had 20 or more digs in 13 of her 18 matches this season.
Harvard's Corinne Bain (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) was also a unanimous selection for Rookie of the Year. She is the third unanimous selection for that award, joining Yale's Mollie Rogers in 2011 and Brown's Tomo Nakanishi in 1996.
Bain is not only the first Crimson player to record a triple-double, she has done it six times this season, which are the most in the nation by a freshman. All six came in League play. She hit .268 in League play this season, ranking in the Top 20 in virtually every statistical category, including a League-best 50 service aces, 25 coming in League play.
Joining the trio of award winners on the first-team All-Ivy were Yale's Mollie Rogers (San Diego) and Kelly Johnson (Palos Verdes, Calif.), Harvard's Kathleen Wallace (San Francisco) and Grace Weghorst (Austin, Texas), Dartmouth's Elisa Scudder (Ashburn, Va.), Brown's Thea Derrough (La Jolla, Calif.) and Princeton's Cara Mattaliano (Glen Ellyn, Ill.). Rogers joined Bain and Polan as unanimous selections on the first-team.
Shepherd and Rogers both earned their third first-team All-Ivy honors, joining a list of 27 players who have earned the honor three or more times in a career. Shepherd is just the fourth Quaker to do so and the first since Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan (2001-03).
Helping the Bears to their first winning record in League play in nearly a decade, Derrough became Brown's first first-team All-Ivy selection since Katie Lapinski in 2006.
There were 10 players selected to each the first and second-teams due to ties in the balloting, making it the largest first and second-team All-Ivy class ever. All-Ivy teams typically consist of seven players in women's volleyball. It is the first time in at least 20 years that three freshmen made the first team.
Yale and Harvard each had three first-team selections. Yale and Penn led the way with five overall selections among the 24 players earning first-team, second-team or honorable mention honors.
Yale plays one more regular season match next Tuesday at Stony Brook as a tune-up for its NCAA Tournament appearance. Pairings will be announced on December 1 at 9:30 ET on ESPNU.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
*Kendall Polan, Yale (Sr., S - Cardiff, Calif.)
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Dani Shepherd, Penn (Sr., L - Los Angeles)
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
*Corinne Bain, Harvard (Fr., S/H - Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
FIRST TEAM ALL-IVY^
Kelly Johnson, Yale (So., S/H - Palos Verdes, Calif.)*
Mollie Rogers, Yale (Jr., OH - San Diego)
Cara Mattaliano, Princeton (Fr., OH - Glen Ellyn, Ill.)
Thea Derrough, Brown (Sr., OH - La Jolla, Calif.)
Kathleen Wallace, Harvard (So., OH - San Francisco)
Grace Weghorst, Harvard (Fr., OH - Austin, Texas)
Elisa Scudder, Dartmouth (Sr., MB - Ashburn, Va.)
Corinne Bain, Harvard (Fr., S/H - Manhattan Beach, Calif.)*
Kendall Polan, Yale (Sr., S - Cardiff, Calif.) *
Dani Shepherd, Penn (Sr., L - Los Angeles)
SECOND TEAM ALL-IVY^
Breanna Wong, Cornell (So., OH - Highlands Ranch, Colo.)
Kristen Etterbeek, Penn (Sr., OH - Holland, Mich.)
Bailey Springer, Columbia (So., OH - Ft. Worth, Texas)
Maddie Lord, Brown (Jr., OH - La Jolla, Calif.)
Alexis Genske, Penn (So., OH – Altenda, Calif.)
Brittani Steinberg, Yale (Fr., OH - Glenview, Ill.)
Rachel D'Epagnier, Cornell (Sr., MB - Coopersburg, Pa.)
Caroline Walters, Harvard (Jr., MB - San Mateo, Calif.)
Alex Caldwell, Penn (So., S - San Jose, Calif.)
Maddie Rudnick, Yale (Jr., L – Encinitas, Calif.)
Paige Caridi, Dartmouth (So., OH – Austin, Texas)
Susan Stuecheli, Penn (Sr., MB - Troy, Mich.)
Tiana Woolridge, Princeton (Jr., MB - Sherman Oaks, Mich.)
Natasha Rowland, Cornell (Jr., L - Palm Harbor, Fla.)
* Unanimous Selection
^ Due to ties in the voting, the first and second teams were expanded from six