Nov. 21, 2008
HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Senior outside hitter Amber Thomas (Ephrata, Pa./Conestoga Valley) was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. The award was announced Wednesday evening at the 2008 NCAA Division III Championship awards banquet in Bloomington, Ill., which was held in conjunction with the NCAA Division III Championship, to be held November 20-22 on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University.
The senior has now given Juniata claim to four of the last five Division III AVCA Player of the Year awards, capturing the award herself in 2007-08, with Stephanie Kines (2006) and Carli Dale (2004) previously earning the honor. Thomas is only the fourth player in the award's history to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons, joining Central College's Abbie Brown (1998 & 1999), Washington University's Amy Albers (1993 & 1994), and Washington University's Lori Nishikawa (1988 & 1989).
The award is the pinnacle of a brilliant career for Thomas, as she goes down in Juniata's record books as one of the most prolific players in the program's storied history. To date, the senior has recorded 1,703 career kills, placing her sixth all-time in Eagle lore in that category. Thomas also becomes only the second athlete in program history to earn Division III AVCA All-American accolades in each of her four seasons (First-Team 2006-08, Third-Team 2005).
In addition, Thomas has earned Landmark Conference Player of the Year laurels in both her junior and senior seasons and is now a four-time Division III AVCA All-Region honoree.
Entering this weekend's NCAA national quarterfinals, Thomas is ranked among the nation's leaders in kills per set, pounding down an average of 3.81 bombs per stanza. She also boasts an efficient .309 hitting percentage and averages 2.15 digs and nearly 0.5 blocks per set, making her an all-around performer for veteran Head Coach Larry Bock. Of the 31 matches Thomas saw action in this season, 20 of them ended with her tallying double-digit kill totals.
Thomas' contributions have aided Juniata's continued dominance in the Division III volleyball world. The Eagles, who sport a 34-4 record to date, have not had less than a 30-win season since 1980. Thomas and her teammates locked-up their 28th consecutive conference championship in 2008, and Juniata remains the only program to appear in all 28 Division III National Tournaments.
Thomas and Juniata will face-off against the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Thursday as they begin the hunt for their third championship in the last five years.