Mattaliano, King Earn Top Ivy Awards; 4 Earn All-Ivy Honors After Title Run
Junior Cara Mattaliano, whose first career 20-20 performance led the way to Princeton’s historic run to the Ivy League title, was named the 2015 Ivy League Player of the Year, it was announced by the league office Thursday.
She is the fifth player in program history to win the award; one of the prior four, Sabrina King, was honored as the Ivy League’s Co-Coach of the Year after guiding the Tigers on their run from an 0-3 start to the Ivy title.
Mattaliano was one of four Princeton players to earn All-Ivy League honors, and one of two to be unanimous selections on the All-Ivy first team. Mattaliano joins senior co-captain Kendall Peterkin on the first team, while junior middle Brittany Ptak and freshman setter Claire Nussbaum were selected to the second team.
Mattaliano is Princeton’s first Ivy League Player of the Year in eight years, and she joins a Tiger list that includes Kristi Hakman (1990), Kristin Spataro (1995), Sabrina King (1999), and Parker Henritze (2007).
How good was Mattaliano during league play? She ranked second in the Ivy League in kills (3.80) and service aces (.35), and seventh in digs (3.84). She was the only player in the league to rank in the Top 10 in both kills and digs, and her dig total was tops among all non-liberos.
“Cara has turned an awesome corner this year, as a person, a leader and a player,” Peterkin said on this week’s edition of TigerCast. “She has been a go-to hitter, and she has put critical balls away at tough points all season. Cara’s leadership ability has grown so much this season. She really has the ability to pump us up, and it’s really nice being another hitter to know the pressure isn’t all on you. Cara has been a huge factor for our success this year.”
The same can certainly be said of Peterkin, who won two of the last four Ivy League Player of the Week honors this season (Mattaliano won the other two). Peterkin ranked third in the league with 3.61 kills, and she recorded double-digit kills in every match during the second half of the Ivy season, including 19 against reigning champion Yale, and she had 59 blocks during Ivy League play.
Ptak earned her second All-Ivy honor after being one of the league’s most efficient hitters. The junior middle hit .381 on the season, second-best in the Ivy League, and she averaged 12 kills per match during Princeton’s Ivy championship-clinching weekend.
Nussbaum, who won three of the last four Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors, earned second-team recognition after helping spark the Princeton offense midway through the season. She finished third in Ivy matches with 9.21 assists per set despite not being the full-time setter until midway through the league schedule. She also turned into one of the league’s top servers, and her .34 aces per set was third-most in the league.
This is the first Coach of the Year honor for King, who helped get her squad through the tough start and became the first coach to lead an Ivy League team from an 0-3 start to an Ivy title in double-round-robin play.
“Sabrina is more than just a great coach, she is a very relatable person,” Peterkin said. “One of the things I have really admired about her this year and in past seasons is that she doesn’t put crazy emotion into where we are in the season. She’s a very calm presence, and when she talks to us, she knows what we needs to work on. It has helped our mentality, to just fix the things that we can do better from the previous weekend. Playing the season with a calm, steady attitude really helped us get through this season. We try to play at a constant level, and Sabrina really enforced that.”
Princeton will take on co-champion Harvard Friday night at 7 pm for the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Both teams split the season series, with the home team claiming 3-0 wins. The match will be streamed for free on the Ivy League Digital Network.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Cara Mattaliano, Princeton (Jr., OH - Glen Ellyn, Ill.)
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Cassie Wes, Columbia (Sr., L - Palm Harbor, Fla.)
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Christina Corneluis, Harvard (Fr., S - Sunnyvale, Calif.)
CO-COACHES OF THE YEAR
Erin Lindsey, Dartmouth
Sabrina King, Princeton
FIRST TEAM ALL-IVY
*Emily Astarita, Dartmouth (Jr., OPP - Setauket, N.Y.)
Kaira Lujan, Dartmouth (Sr., MB - Santa Fe, N.M)
*Corinne Bain, Harvard (Jr., S/H - Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
Christina Cornelius, Harvard (Fr., MB - Los Angeles)
*Kathleen Wallace, Harvard (Sr., OH - San Francisco)
*Cara Mattaliano, Princeton (Jr., OH - Glen Ellyn, Ill.)
*Kendall Peterkin, Princeton (Sr., RS - San Diego)
Kelly Johnson, Yale (Sr., S/H - Palos Verdes, Calif)
SECOND TEAM ALL-IVY
Sabrina Stillwell, Brown (Fr., RS - Laguna Beach, Calif.)
Katarina Jovicic, Columbia (Sr. MH - Toronto)
Cassi Wes, Columbia (Jr., L - Atherton, Calif.)
Caroline Holte, Harvard (Sr., MB - Laguna Beach, Calif.)
Alexis Genske, Penn (Sr., OH - Altadena, Calif)
Brittany Ptak, Princeton (Jr., MB - Coto de Caza, Calif.)
Claire Nussbaum, Princeton (Fr. S - San Diego)
Kelley Wirth, Yale (Fr., OH - Moraga, Calif.)
HONORABLE MENTION ALL-IVY
Payton Smith, Brown (Jr., MB - Atherton, Calif.)
Paige Caridi, Dartmouth (Sr., OH - Austin, Texas)
Sindhu Vegesena, Harvard (Sr., L - Spring, Texas)
Maya Midzik, Yale (Sr., MB - Brookline, Mass.)