The UC volleyball squad earned the 2011 Team of the Year Award at the All-Sports Banquet.
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June 4, 2011
CINCINNATI - University of Cincinnati student-athletes, coaches, and staff came together to celebrate another successful year of Bearcats Athletics on Saturday, June 5 at the 2011 All-Sports Banquet inside Fifth Third Arena. The annual tradition honors the top performers in each of its 18 sports, including Athletes of the Year, Scholar-Athletes of the Year, top senior student-athletes, Coach of the Year and Team of the Year.
The most prestigious awards, given to a senior student-athlete, are the Jimmy Nippert and Helen Norman Smith Awards, which are presented to the top graduating male and female student-athletes who have distinguished themselves by academic achievement, athletic accomplishment, and service to the campus community.
Jimmy Nippert Award Winner: Stephen Cunningham, Swimming & Diving
Cunningham qualified for two A finals at the BIG EAST Championship. He swam a personal best of 15:34.46, the seventh-fastest time in school history, in the 1,650 freestyle to place fifth. Cunningham took sixth place in the men's 500-yard freestyle with his personal best and NCAA B time of 4:26.65, the fifth-fastest time in school history. He won the 500 freestyle at the FAU Invitational with an effort of 4:39.00 and the 500 freestyle at the Miami Invitational, clocking a time of 4:29.12.
Helen Norman Smith Award Winner: Shelly Bellman, Women's Basketball
Bellman ended her career in four UC Top 10 lists after battling multiple knee injuries. While on the sidelines, she was involved in the non-profit organization "Dress for Success," spoke to kids at Loveland Elementary School, assisted UC freshmen on Move-In Day, served food at local soup kitchens, volunteered at the Kids' Club at Crossroad Oakley, and many more. Bellmen has been named to the Dean's List since 2005 and has been working toward a second degree. She averaged 5.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in 24 starts in the 2010-11 season.
Male Athlete of the Year: Terence Somerville, Track & Field
Somerville was named the 2010 BIG EAST Men's Most Outstanding Track Performer after capturing the 110-meter hurdles BIG EAST championship with a BIG EAST and Jumbo Elliot Stadium record-mark of 13.44 seconds, which is .02 seconds behind Olympic silver medalist David Payne's school record of 13.42. He ranks seventh in the NCAA and 13th in the world in the 110-meter hurdles and earned the Maury White Award for most outstanding performer at 2011 Drake Relays. He advanced to the NCAA Championships on June 8-11 with a regional time of 13.92, good for fourth-fastest in the field.
Female Athlete of the Year: Stephanie Niemer, Volleyball
Niemer is the 2010 BIG EAST Player of the Year and was named an American Volleyball Coaches Association Second Team All-American, the program's first player to be named to the second team. She was the BIG EAST Player of the Week for five consecutive weeks and six weeks overall - both conference records - and to the Northeast All-Region Team. She finished her UC career ranked first in service aces and second in kills and kills per set. She started all 36 matches this season and finished with 16 double-doubles, while leading the team in attacks, kills per set (5.12), points (5.93) and serves (.37).
Female TOPCAT Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Ksenia Slynko, Tennis
Male TOPCAT Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Brian Berling, Track & Field/Cross Country
Slynko and Berling received the Female and Male TopCat Award, respectively, which is awarded to the individual yielding the highest GPA. Slynko earned her BA in Economics with a 4.0 GPA and is on track to receive a Master's in Applied Economics by the end of 2011. She played No. 1 singles for 22 matches this season and closed out her UC career with a 35-36 record at the No. 1 singles spot.
Berling is a five-time letterwinner in cross country and outdoor track. He has excelled in the classroom throughout his career, recently earning the outstanding student award for secondary education from his program in 2010. The award is given annually to the top student in UC's secondary education program. Berling has made the Dean's List from fall 2006 through spring 2010 and currently carries a 4.0 graduate program GPA. He held a 3.949 undergraduate GPA and was the 2010 Winter and Spring athlete of the quarter for the men's cross country team. He was also named the Department of Athletics Scholar of the quarter for the fall of 2009.
Coach of the Year: Reed Sunahara, Volleyball
After winning the outright 2010 BIG EAST Conference regular-season championship, Sunahara was named the league's Coach of the Year, his second after winning it previously in 2008. His team went 30-6, the UC's first 30-win season since 1983, and advanced to the NCAA Championship for the third consecutive season. Sunahara's squad is on a 39-match home winning streak at Fifth Third Arena, the second longest streak in the nation behind Penn State.
Team of the Year: Volleyball
The Bearcats volleyball team finished with its first 30-win season since 1983 after compiling a 30-6 record, a BIG EAST Conference regular-season championship, and its third consecutive NCAA Championship appearance. The team saw seniors Stephanie Niemer and Annie Fesl and sophomore Jordanne Scott earn AVCA All-Region honors, in addition to Niemer's BIG EAST Player of the Year and AVCA Second Team All-America recognition.