By Chris Chaney
The University of Cincinnati Clermont may have come up short in their quest for a national championship at the United States Collegiate Athletic Association tournament last week, but the Lady Cougars did not come home empty-handed.
Four Lady Cougars were recognized at the awards dinner held during the national tournament in Canton, NY. Becca Walton (Mother of Mercy) was named a First Team All-American, Heather Rowland (Norwood) was a Second Team All-American and Amber Lawrence (Felicity-Franklin) was an All-American Honorable Mention.
Taylor Herrmann (Glen Este) was an Academic All-American.
“(All of them) meant a whole lot to the team,” Lady Cougars head coach Joe Harpring said. “That was the best we’ve ever done in All-American voting having three, for lack of a better term, athletic All-Americans and one Academic All-Americans. We’re really proud of that.
“It’s really a reflection of the whole team in general because Heather and Amber would not have been recognized if Becca and Alex (Robb) weren’t doing a great job of setting them, or if our blockers weren’t doing a good job and if our servers weren’t doing a good job. It really reflects on the whole team.”
Walton, a 5-foot-3 senior setter, was selected to the First Team for the first time and the nod came as a shock to her even after having a standout season.
“Becca was surprised to get a First Team All-American,” Harping said. “This was the first year she was selected for anything, but she was a huge leader and a big part of us having one of the highest hitting percentages in the USCAA this year.”
The Lady Cougars recorded a .239 hitting percentage, which was second in the entire USCAA, second only to Christendom College, a liberal arts school in Fort Royal, Va.
Individually, Walton played in 30 matches during her senior season and was 15th in the country in assists (550) and 20th in assists per set (5.56). She was also among the top-50 in service aces and digs.
Second Team selection Heather Rowland, a sophomore middle hitter, made a name for herself at the net. The 5-foot-9 enforcer was fifth in the nation in hitting percentage (.340), 10th in solo blocks (42), 23rd in total blocks and 31st in kills (222).
Honorable Mention Amber Lawrence, a 5-foot-10 freshman, was 13th in hitting percentage (.285), 28th in kills (234) and 36th in solo blocks (22).
“Heather and Amber were obviously part of that (high) hitting percentage as well,” Harpring pointed out.
Finally, Taylor Herrmann was named to the Academic All-American list, a hybrid of scholastic and athletic achievement.
“The academic reflects both what you do on the volleyball court and what you do in the classroom,” Harping said. “You have to excel at both to be considered for that particular award, so that’s a reflection of what she’s done in the classroom and playing volleyball as well.”
The business management technology major and defensive specialist was third on the team in digs (225) and fourth on the team in service aces.
The Lady Cougars finished the season with a 23-8 record, a perfect 6-0 mark in the Ohio Collegiate Athletic Conference and were both the regular season and tournament champions in the OCAC.