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Georgia McGovern earned 5 tournament honors this season (photo by Stella Cheng)
Georgia McGovern earned 5 tournament honors this season (photo by Stella Cheng)

Georgia McGovern Caps Award-Filled 2023 Season with Spot on NCAA All-Tournament Team

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Setter Georgia McGovern finished off a season full of awards by earning a spot on the NCAA Division III Volleyball Championship All-Tournament team, in a vote of media and committee members in attendance during the championships at Roberts Pavilion from Nov. 29-Dec. 2.

McGovern helped the Athenas reach the semifinal round, when she set a new career-high with 61 assists in a 3-2 defeat to Hope, nearly leading the Athenas back from a 2-0 deficit. She also had 29 assists in a dominant 3-0 win over top-seeded Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the quarterfinals. 

McGovern earned first-team All-America honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association, and was the AVCA West Region Player of the Year. During the postseason, she earned the Most Outstanding Player honor of both the SCIAC Tournament and the NCAA Regionals at MIT. She was also an all-tournament team selection at both the Pacific Coast Classic and the East-West Classic in September to start the regular season. 

After her 61-assist performance against Hope, McGovern finished the year with 1195 assists, which ranks second all-time in CMS history, behind only the 1257 from Natalya Preiser in 1992. Her 11.17 assists per set ranked second in the nation behind only Olivia Foley of national champion Juniata, who finished a fraction ahead at 11.18. 

Ironically, the one thing that may have stopped McGovern from being the statistical champion in assists per set is that she developed into a significant attacking weapon herself. In her first two seasons, she would play three rotations in a 6-2 system and had a combined 25 kills, but this year, she played all six rotations and would frequently attack while on the front row, ending the year with 149 kills (compared to 47 kills from Foley). As a team, CMS did finish as the national leader in both kills per set and assists per set, after leading in hitting percentage in 2022 at .315, over 40 points ahead of second place. 

In addition, when the fourth set ended against Hope, McGovern was at a nation's-best 11.22 assists per set, but by leading a comeback and forcing an abbreviated 15-point fifth set, her average dipped to 11.17 in the final stats.   

McGovern was originally part of this year's senior class, but will be back next year while completing her final academic semester. She'll enter the new year with 2737 career assists, needing 1281 to tie Preiser's career record of 4018, a figure which would give her both the single-season and career records if she can reach it. 

McGovern wasn't the only Athena to place high up on the CMS statistical rankings this season. Jenna Holmes, who was the 2022 AVCA National Player of the Year after leading the Athenas to a 30-1 record, had the second-highest single-season kill total in Athena history with 418 and ended up fourth in program history with 1137 kills despite only playing three seasons, missing her first year due to the pandemic. 

Dede Carranza ended the year with 539 digs, which places ninth on the CMS career list (her 547 total in 2021 also ranks seventh) and she moved up to fourth on the career list with 1547. She stands 574 away from the program record of 2121 held by Megan Coleman (2011-14) heading into next year. 

Audrey Sawyer continued her progress towards obliterating the CMS record for career hitting percentage, finishing this season hitting .390. She now has the second (.395 in 2022), fourth (.390 in 2022) and fifth (.381 in 2021) top single-season hitting percentages in school history, and her career .388 percentage is currently .65 ahead of the current CMS record of .323, held by Melanie Moore (2017-19). Brenna Bell, who set a CMS record with a .404 percentage in 2022, also comes into the 2024 season with a .322 hitting percentage. 

CMS finished the year 26-6 and came up just short of winning a national title on its home floor with its 3-2 defeat to Hope, but the Athenas will be in the mix again next year, with the return of McGovern, Carranza, Sawyer, and Bell, as well as middle Dani Beder, who hit .318 this year (12th all-time at CMS), and Brooke McKee, who had 198 kills despite missing 10 matches down the stretch due to injury.

CMS will lose three seniors, including Holmes and Izzy Sakoda, who were six-rotation players in the postseason, and Maxine Matheson-Lieber, but will have 18 of the 21 players on the roster returning in all. 

The complete all-tournamet team was as follows:

NCAA Division III All-Tournament Team
Olivia Foley, Juniata (Most Outstanding Player)
Kiona Sky Rousset-Hernandez, Juniata
Lily Podolan, Juniata
Kamryn Burbridge, Hope
Addie VanderWeide, Hope
Georgia McGovern, CMS
Lindsey Hirano, NYU

For all the information from the 2023 NCAA Division III Volleyball Championships in Claremont, visit the tournament home page: NCAA DIII Volleyball Championship