Shaffer, A. Flanagan, Norklun and Forge honored for Panthers
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Following a record setting season, three student-athletes and the head coach of the Plymouth State University women's volleyball team were among those honored by the Little East Conference (LEC) on Tuesday as the league announced its all-conference teams and major awards winners.
Junior Francie Shaffer (Frederick, Colo.) was selected to the All-LEC First Team, while senior Alisha Flanagan (Milton, N.H.) and junior Carabeth Norklun (Goffstown, N.H.) each earned Second Team honors. Additionally, head coach Joan Forge was named the LEC Coach of the Year after leading the Panthers to a school-record tying 32 wins in her second season at the helm. It is the first postseason honor for all four.
A 5-7 junior outside hitter, Shaffer was among the league's top hitters this fall. Her 377 kills led the league, while she was fifth in the conference with 3.04 kills per set. She finished with double-digit kill totals in 22 of 36 matches, including a career-high 22 in the Panthers' thrilling 3-2 win over Keene State on Oct. 16, and tied a match-high with 16 kills to lead third-seeded PSU to a 3-2 upset of second-seeded Eastern Connecticut in the conference semifinals on Nov. 7.
A 5-8 senior libero, Flanagan played a key role in PSU's defense and serve receive. Her 570 digs were the second most in the LEC and the seventh-most in a season in program history, while her 4.35 digs/set was the third-highest average in the league. Flanagan was also among the conference's top servers as her 67 aces were the third most in the LEC. She appeared in all 37 matches for the Panthers, totaling double-digit digs 30 times, including a career-best 34 in a key LEC match at WestConn on Oct. 19.
A 6-0 junior middle hitter, Norklun enjoyed a breakout season easily setting career highs in kills, kills/set, attack percentage, blocks and blocks/set. Her 307 kills ranked seventh in the conference, while she was one of just five players league-wide to hit better than .300 for the season (.306). She becomes just the seventh player in PSU history to finish a season hitting over .300, while her 82 blocks were the third-most in the LEC.
Forge had remarkable success in her second season, leading a team picked seventh in the preseason coaches' poll to a 32-5 overall record and a share of the regular season title after finishing tied atop the conference with Eastern Connecticut and WestConn with identical 6-2 league marks. Although PSU lost out on the tie-breaker scenario to earn the third seed for the LEC Tournament, Forge led the Panthers to the championship game with wins over sixth-seeded Southern Maine (3-0) and an upset win at second-seeded Eastern Connecticut (3-2) to host the championship match for just the second time in school history (2011).
The team established new program records for home wins (16) and block assists in a match (22) and season (307), and posted top-five season totals in kills (1,699), assists (1,499), kills per set (12.59), assists per set (11.10), attack attempts (4,554) and total blocks (208).
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