It was a feel-good day for University of Montana athletics, highlighted by a Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year announcement.

Only once, back in 1991, has a University of Montana volleyball coach been named conference coach of the year. Until today. Let's just call it a heaping dollop of whipped cream on the pumpkin pie of coaching life, an honor that the coach said she did not expect, but colleagues felt she certainly deserved.

Our congratulations to Grizzly volleyball coach Allison Lawrence. The Big Sky Conference announced on Tuesday that she was named the league's coach of the year, for guiding the Griz to their best season in 23 years, 17 overall wins and double-digit conference wins for the first time since 2013.

Montana was a preseason pick to finish seventh in the conference. Instead they tied for fourth, as Coach Lawrence led the team to exceed the expectations of many. All the best to Allison and the Griz when they open Big Sky Conference Tourney play against Sacramento State, 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, in Ogden, Utah.

Other achievements this week include junior forward Josh Bannan being named the Big Sky Conference basketball player of the week for his contributions during Montana's Zootown Classic Tournament last week. It was the first weekly honor of his outstanding career.

Josh led the Griz to wins over St. Thomas and Merrimack, and was a solid contributor in Saturday night's loss to Troy. Bannan averaged a double-double, scoring 14.3 points, grabbing 13.3 rebounds while also dishing out 5.7 assists per game. The real eye-popping numbers came in the first game: 23 points and 17 rebounds! So far, it's safe to say Josh is living up to the expectations of a preseason conference first-team selection.

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