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Tuesday, December 5, 2000 Volume 66, Issue 74



Rogers, Volleyball top list of honorees in 2000 DC Awards

Ed De La Garza and
Crystal J. Doucette
Daily Cougar Staff

The final results of the 2000 DC Awards were tabulated early Monday morning. There weren't any major surprises, but this exercise proved one thing. Cougar fans are passionate about their teams.

Coach of the Semester

As head coach of the UH women's volleyball team, Bill Walton has guided the program to 11 NCAA tournament invitations, a Northern Intercollegiate Volleyball Conference tournament championship in 1990 and 320 wins since his first year in 1986. He recorded his 300th career win at UH on Sept. 1 in the season-opener against Texas-Arlington and ended the season with 530 career wins, 320 at UH.

An Illinois native, Walton played volleyball at George Williams College, where he was a two-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American. He helped lead George Williams to a national volleyball title in 1974 and gained spots on the 1976 and 1979 United States National Teams. Walton earned his first opportunity as a head coach at Elmhurst in 1981. The team played in the 1982 NCAA Division III regional finals and won the NCAA title in 1983 over UC San Diego, 3-1.

Walton has built the UH program to a .645 winning percentage (320-176), 13 seasons out of 15 with 20-plus wins and 10 consecutive NCAA tournament invitations, an honor which only 12 schools can claim.

Game of the Semester

Oct. 28. The football team took on then-No. 12 Southern Miss and held the Golden Eagles to just six points. Though the Cougars lost the game, 6-3, senior quarterback Jason McKinley nearly led the team to an upset win.

The Cougar defense held the Golden Eagles throughout the game, until a crucial drive late in the third quarter. Southern Miss drove close enough to kick the go-ahead field goal -- due in part to questionable calls that kept its drive alive.

Having done nothing for three quarters, McKinley finally jump-started the team and guided it all the way to USM's 17-yard line. But an untimely sack pushed the Cougars back to the 29.

A 46-yard attempt from kicker Mike Clark sailed wide left, leaving the Cougars' chances of a winning season dangling by a thread.

The game was marked by defense. It can even be argued that Southern Miss' problems began with this game. It was never able to regain the aura of invincibility it enjoyed early in the season. The C-USA favorite was blown out by eventual conference champion Louisville.

First year head coach Dana Dimel went through some tough times, but his team never gave up. It was a loss, but it was the Cougars' best game of the season.

Team of the Semester

The UH women's volleyball team took off early this semester, taking advantage of a healthy Jennifer Wittenburg and a starting recruit -- junior transfer Gabriela Carbone. With five seniors, the Cougars went on a 10-match winning streak and were undefeated in Conference USA play for eight matches. The team was No. 1 in the NCAA Midwest Region, was tied for No. 1 in conference with Cincinnati and was No. 1 in the National Division.

Senior Wittenburg was named C-USA Player of the Week twice this season, two players (Michelle Frazier and Morgan Wallen) had triple-double matches and each of the usual six starters (Carbone and the seniors) broke or matched a career-high.

Despite a disappointing end to regular season play, UH earned a No. 4 seed in the 2000 C-USA tournament. The Cougars have made it to at least the semifinals in the conference tourney since joining C-USA in 1996. They lost to South Florida in the semis Nov. 18.

UH received a spot in the 2000 NCAA tournament to face No. 23 Texas A&M in the first round at Stockton, Calif. The Cougars were knocked out, 3-0, but finished the season 21-11.

Most Valuable Player

Freshman soccer forward Nicole Aubuchon was the breakout star of the year, but the award can go to only one player.

Senior football linebacker Wayne Rogers seemingly willed the Cougars to give everything they had on every down. His 26 tackles for a loss cemented his position in the UH history books.

Photo courtesy of Will Cordray

UH senior linebacker Wayne Rogers won numerous awards for his aggressive play this season. He was also recognized by The Daily Cougar as "Most Valuable Player of the Semester."

His hard work paid off -- individually. Rogers earned the C-USA Co-Defensive Player of the Year award and was named to Football News' and's Third Team All-America teams.

He also won the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week award on two consecutive occasions, following the Memphis game on Oct. 21 and the USM game on Oct. 28.

He was the first defensive player to win a conference player of the year award since Wilson Whitley in 1976.

Rogers led the team through a transition period. Hopefully, his hard work rubbed off on the younger players who will be asked to step up now that he's moving beyond collegiate football. Rogers' love for the game showed through and gave fans reason to cheer, regardless of the team's record.

Rogers will forever be associated with this era in Cougar football.

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