The award is the high point of Leath’s career so far — but it didn’t come easy.
An injury forced Leath to redshirt in 2014, and she had to work through months of rehab.
“I was in the gym all the time,” she said. “It just took a lot of patience to make sure I was getting the extra reps that I needed.”
“You only get better by working at it.”
Standout first-year outside hitter Julia Scoles was named the ACC Freshman of the Year. She was second on the team in both kills and points, trailing only Leath.
“I knew after the first weekend of play that she was going to be special,” Coach Joe Sagula said.
Scoles was also named to the All-ACC First Team and All-ACC Freshman Team. She attributed part of her success to her teammate Leath — who plays the same position as Scoles.
“Definitely what I’ve learned most from her is confidence,” Scoles said. “She really instills confidence in me — to believe in myself — because she shows me that she believes in me. And if she believes in me, I should believe in myself.”
Sagula completed the Tar Heels’ sweep of the major awards with his fifth Coach of the Year honor. He won his seventh career ACC title and led UNC to a school-record 19 ACC wins this season.
Sagula was gracious of the honor, but he humbly credited his players.
“It’s not me,” he said. “I’m not out on the court getting any kills. But I’m happy to be able to orchestrate, putting some people in the right place and believing in some of the players so that they can play great.”
“When they’re good, that makes the coaches good.”
North Carolina also had four other players honored with All-ACC selections — Taylor Treacy (first team), Abigail Curry and Taylor Fricano (second team) and Taylor Borup (freshman team).
Fresh off the best ACC record in team history and a slew of postseason awards, the seventh-seeded Tar Heels are confident as ever as they open NCAA Tournament play at home against High Point tonight at 6:30 p.m.
“I’m excited,” Scoles said. “I think we have a great shot at winning a national championship — not just getting to the Final Four.”