In another year of standout candidates, Morgan Hooe stood the tallest.
The former South High School star parlayed a brilliant season at the University of Alaska Anchorage into the athletic department’s highest honor for former student-athletes while adding a local flair as she took home the Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year award.
Her list of accomplishments reads like a grocery list that could take all day to fill. The senior setter earned All-American honors for a second time leading the UAA volleyball team to the Division II National Championship game before falling to Concordia-St. Paul.
Her 3,920 assists in the program are now the most in program history.
Along the way, she was also named 2016 GNAC and NCAA West Region Division II player of the year. She and fellow senior Erin Braun became the first two players at UAA to qualify for the NCAA in all four years of eligibility.
But as brilliant as her play was on the court it was her leadership which captivated the program. It was on display at the West Region Championship against Western Washington.
Hooe was forced to the sideline with a knee injury early in the match only to make a Willis Reed-like return later as the Seawolves would defeat their rival en route the Elite Eight. Reed, the NBA hall-of-famer famously led the Knicks to the 1970 title coming out for the decisive game 7 just moments before the tip off against the Lakers while battling a thigh injury.
The award caps off an epic 24 hours for Hooe. On Thursday, she was honored by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame in the Pride of Alaska category for consistent excellence in athletic competition.
Hooe is only the third volleyball player in program history to win the award in 32 years. Calli Scott did it in 2010, and Jennie Szczerbinski was the first in 1993. Hooe received the nod over 12 other nominees. UAA athletics staff, local media and Benton Bay representatives voted.