CLEVELAND (December 1) -- Ball State University junior setter Emily Sallee has been named the 1999 Mid-American Conference's Pepsi Player of the Year, which was announced today by the league office. In addition, Northern Illinois' Jen VonderHaar has been selected as the league's Pepsi Freshman of the Year and Ball State head coach Randy Litchfield has been tabbed as the Qwest Coach of the Year. All three awards were voted on by the league's head coaches.
Sallee, a native of Muncie, Ind., paced the Cardinals to their first MAC postseason title since 1995 and also the school's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since that same year. A two-time first-team all-MAC choice, Sallee set a school and conference record with 1,802 assists this year, and will improve upon that total when Ball State faces No. 17 Northern Iowa (28-0) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday in Clemson, S.C.
In addition, Sallee, who was named the MAC's Tournament MVP, also leads the nation in assists-per-game (14.65) average and has the ninth-highest assist output in one season in Division I history. Sallee is the first Ball State player to be named the league's Player of the Year since Cassy Herode in 1995, and she also snaps a three-year string of Miami players garnering the honor.
VonderHaar, who is the first Northern Illinois student-athlete to capture the MAC's Freshman of the Year award, completed her first year with a 1.19 blocks-per-game average, which tied for fourth in the conference and led NIU. The Hibbing, Minn., native was third on the Huskie squad with 215 kills and paced Northern Illinois in block solos (16) and block assists (99).
For the fourth time in his 11-year tenure, Litchfield has garnered Coach of the Year honors. This year, Litchfield guided Ball State to a 16-2 record in the MAC and a 28-6 overall mark heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals captured their fifth MAC title this decade in 1999 and accomplished it without a senior on the squad. The 28 wins this season are the most under Litchfield's direction at BSU, and are the fifth-most in one year in league history.