(DANBURY, Conn.) – Carnegie Mellon University volleyball senior Molly Higgins (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach) was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III South Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. Joining Higgins on the first team are senior teammates Jackie Gibbons (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) and Emily Newton (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Chadwick School).
Higgins earns the top defensive honor for the second time after also garnering All-America Honorable Mention honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) this year. As libero, Higgins led the University Athletic Association (UAA) with 651 digs and 5.38 digs per game, marking the second straight season the senior has accomplished the top spot in both categories. Her 43 service aces were tops on the team and ranked fourth in the UAA. Higgins collected her 2,000th dig this season and ended her career second on the school's all-time digs list with 2,240. Higgins recorded a career-best 46 digs in the Tartans' UAA semifinal win over Chicago.
Gibbons led the team with a .319 hitting percentage and ranked fifth individually in the UAA and was also tops on the team averaging 2.64 kills per game. Her 312 kills ranked second among her teammates. The senior also finished second on the team with 77 blocks. She tallied a career-best 19 kills in the Tartans' victory over John Carroll earlier this year as well as tabbing her 1,000th career kill. Gibbons ended her career ranked eighth on the school's all-time kill list with 1,125. The ECAC honor marks the second first-team selection for Gibbons who also finished her career as a two-time AVCA All-America Honorable Mention player.
Newton finished the season as the team leader in assists with 1,088 which ranked her third in the UAA. Earlier in the season, Newton tallied her 3,000th career assist and finished her career ranked fifth on the school's all-time assist list with 3,525. The senior ranked third on the team with 42 blocks and fourth with 30 service aces. In the Tartans' UAA semifinal win over Chicago, Newton tied her career-high with 54 assists, as it also marked her fourth match of 50 or more assists this season. Last year, Newton was on the ECAC South Second Team. Along with Higgins and Gibbons this year, Newton was named to the AVCA All-America Honorable Mention Team.