21 volleyball players have been nominated by their conferences for the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year honor.
The award honors women who have excelled in academics, athletics, service, and leadership in college.
That number is exactly the same as last year, and is the second-highest among all sports, trailing only 51 from track & field (which has almost twice as many participants in NCAA competition as does volleyball).
In the 2nd round of nominations, after each NCAA member institution had the opportunity to put forward two female student-athletes, each conference was tasked with the same. That reduced the field from 581 to 154. The next step will be to name the Top 30 in September (3 from each Division of the NCAA, then narrowed to 9 finalists (3 from each Division) in early October. The top 30 will be honored at an awards banquet in October 28th in Indianapolis, which includes a weekend of service for those nominees in attendance.
To be eligible for the award, an athlete must have earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport and completed eligibility in that sport.
Among the nominees was Vanessa Freire, a beach volleyball player at Florida State, who finished 2nd in the NCAA National Championship tournament in 2018. One of the team’s two senior captains last season, her 75 career dual wins rank 3rd in school history. She was named a 2018 AVCA All-American and the 2017 CCSA Tournament MVP.
While the ACC, where most of Florida State’s sports compete, nominated NC State swimmer Alexia Zevnik and NC State runner Erika Kemp for the honor, Freire was one of 4 nominees from a special category for teams and athletes who either don’t compete in a conference, or where the conference that sponsors their sport isn’t their normal conference. All athletes that fall into this category are sent to a special committee that nominates 4 forward with the other conference nominees. Freire, who played beach volleyball in the two-sport (swimming & beach volleyball) CCSA, falls into this category.
Other Division I players nominated include BYU’s Amy Boswell Usevitch, Missouri State’s Lily Johnson, North Dakota’s Tamara Merseli, Kennesaw State’s Kristi Piedimonte, Fairfield’s Megahn Theiler, and IUPUI’s Kori Waelbroeck.
Brief Bios on the rest of the NCAA Division I Nominees:
- Amy Boswell, now married as Amy Usevitch, was a middle blocker, finished her BYU career with 900 kills, 555 blocks, and a .346 hitting percentage. That ranks her 2nd in hitting percentage and 5th in blocks in the rally-scoring era for BYU.
- Lily Johnson was one of the most accomplished athletes in Missouri State history. A four-time AVCA All-American, 2017 VolleyMob Honorable Mention All-American, and member of the Missouri Valley 25-year anniversary team, she set conference records for Player of the Week honors, career kills (2,293), career attacks (6,610), and matches with at least 10 kills (123). She finished her NCAA career ranked 19th all-time in NCAA history in kills.
- Tamara Merseli only played at North Dakota for 2 seasons after transferring from Indian Hills Community College, but the Serbian native still managed to accumulate 735 kills. As a junior, her first season of NCAA volleyball, Merseli was named the Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year, led the team in kills, and ranked 2nd in digs. Her first match for North Dakota was a 10 kill, 0-error effort, and she started all 74 matches in her college career.
- Kennesaw State’s Kristi Piedimonte was the 2017 ASUN Setter of the Year, ASUN Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and a CoSiDA First Team Academic All-American as a senior. She was a four-year starter at setter, and finishes her career ranked 2nd in school history in assists (4005) and 1st in aces (119). She leads the later category by a wide margin: 38 ahead of the next-closest player.
- Fairfield’s Megan Theiller was a captain on three-straight MAAC Championship teams, and in spite of an injury that cost her half of her senior season, she was named Second Team All-MAAC. She earned 7 career MAAC Player of the Week honors, and is one of 4 players in school history to finish her career with more than 1,200 kills and 1,200 digs. Her 1,288 kills rank her 6th in program history and her 1,213 digs rank her 11th. She was the 2014 MAAC Rookie of the Year, 2015 MAAC Championship MVP, and a 2016 All-MAAC First Team honoree.
- IUPUI’s Kori Waelbroeck was the first player in program history to be named a CoSIDA Academic All-American Second Team member. She led the team in kills as a senior with 457 and as a junior with 389. She was also a three-time All-Summit League honoree, and ranks 6th in program history with 1,197 kills.
Last year, Johnson C. Smith University’s Morgan Hasty represented volleyball in the top-30.
Click here to see the list of all-sport nominees.
All Volleyball Nominees:
|Amy Boswell Usevitch||Brigham Young University||West Coast Conference||Volleyball|
|Kori Bullard||Ouachita Baptist University||Great American Conference||Basketball, Volleyball|
|Natalie Cignetti||Indiana University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference||Volleyball|
|Zaria Comer||Notre Dame of Maryland University||Colonial States Athletic Conference||Basketball, Volleyball|
|Vanessa Freire||Florida State University||(Non-core conference)||Beach Volleyball|
|Lauren Hackett||California Baptist University||Pacific West Conference||Volleyball|
|Sydney Holland||Winston-Salem State University||Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Volleyball|
|Lily Johnson||Missouri State University||Missouri Valley Conference||Volleyball|
|Whitney Lloyd||University of St. Thomas (Minnesota)||Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||Volleyball|
|Kaitlyn Mazierski||St. John Fisher College||Empire 8||Softball, Volleyball|
|Tamara Merseli||University of North Dakota||Big Sky Conference||Volleyball|
|Arlicia Ortiz||Fayetteville State University||Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Volleyball|
|Kristi Piedimonte||Kennesaw State University||ASUN Conference||Volleyball|
|Sophia Proano||Colorado Christian University||Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Volleyball|
|Gabriele Razma||Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology||Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference||Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field, Volleyball|
|Libby Schnoor||Cornell College||Midwest Conference||Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field, Volleyball|
|Megan Theiller||Fairfield University||Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference||Volleyball|
|Lauren Vallee||Bay Path University||New England Collegiate Conference||Softball, Volleyball|
|Kori Waelbroeck||Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis||Horizon League||Volleyball|
|Sarah Wallace||Swarthmore College||Centennial Conference||Volleyball|
|Carson Williams||William Peace University||USA South Athletic Conference||Volleyball|