Dillard Repeats As Conference USA Player of the Year
Another Dominant Season Nets Mean Green Senior League's Top Honor
DENTON - Following a year of unparalleled individual success, North Texas senior Carnae Dillard has won her second consecutive Conference USA Player of the Year award, the league announced on Wednesday.
The outside hitter remains as only the second North Texas player to ever earn player of the year honors in any conference, and she is the volleyball program’s only student-athlete to win such an award in consecutive seasons.
“Winning this twice goes towards her work ethic, belief in herself and the ability to make her teammates better,” head coach Andrew Palileo said. “It would have been easy for Carnae to settle on the award from last season but she came into this year with a renewed focus and drive to be even better than last year.”
After a dominating 2014 campaign that netted Dillard her the same honor last November, the San Antonio native found a way to trump her totals from last season.
In the 2015 campaign, Dillard was consistently the focus for North Texas opponents, but the extra attention didn’t stop her from putting up impressive numbers. The five-time C-USA offensive player of the week currently has 23 double-doubles on the year to lead the conference, and her jaw-dropping totals were good enough for Dillard to be named espnW’s national player of the week just seven days ago, the second national honor of her career.
With 651 kills and 706.5 points, Dillard currently leads the nation this season in six offensive categories and is second with 5.89 points per set.
Dillard’s senior year simply adds to what has been a record-setting career at North Texas. This season, she broke the program records for kills and attacks. Those totals - 2,291 kills and 5,974 attacks - are at the top of a list that includes the top players in the country, as Dillard is the NCAA’s active career leader in each of those categories.
But the North Texas record book isn’t the only one etched with Dillard’s name. When the season finally comes to a close, she will undoubtedly go down as one of the best players in the history of C-USA. Currently, Dillard sits at third in career kills and points (2,542.5).
“This was one of my last goals for the season,” Dillard said. “It’s just really hard to be the best player two years in a row so I’m happy I could sustain throughout this season. My teammates constantly support me whether I have a good game or a bad one and without them there would be no awards or accolades. I want to thank them and my coaches.”
For Palileo, the conference’s top honor comes as a testament to the qualities of the 5-8 outside hitter.
“Carnae has been easy to coach because of her own personal drive and motivation,” the head coach said. “She’s a great teammate on the court and in the locker room. It’s been a pleasure to coach her, not only as a player but a person of great character.”
The announcement comes just hours before North Texas is to board a bus for San Antonio, Dillard’s hometown and the site of this weekend’s C-USA Championships, as any match could be her last. With the help of the league’s most dominant player, the Mean Green will try to seize it’s first-ever C-USA championship.
While the door is closing on perhaps the greatest career in North Texas volleyball history, Dillard remains optimistic about the task at hand.
“Everytime I step on the floor the goal is to win, whether I have 30 kills or 10,” Dillard said in closing. “When we play as a team we’re unstoppable.”