The field for the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year award has been whittled down to just 30: 10 from each of the NCAA’s 3 divisions. 6 volleyball players remain in the running, which is 2nd behind only track & field for the most representatives.
Volleyball Top 30 Honorees, 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year:
- Amy Boswell Usevitch – BYU
- Vanessa Freire – Florida State (beach)
- Lauren Hackett – Cal Baptist
- Lily Johnson – Missouri State
- Whitney Lloyd – University of St. Thomas (Minnesota)
- Sophia Proana – Colorado Christian University
From a record 581 initial nominees, the field was first narrowed to 154, including 21 volleyball players, and now to 30; the next step will be to choose 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, where the winner will be announced.
The award honors women who have excelled in academics, athletics, service, and leadership in college. 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 in the 2017-2018 season.
Brief Bios on the Volleyball 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. She graduated with a nursing degree and a minor in Gerontology in December of 2017 with a GPA of 3.87. While at BYU, she volunteered at various hospitals and emergency rooms. She also traveled to Sapa, Vietnam to teach first aid and basic hygiene to the population there.
- 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. She graduated Summa Cum Laude (3.9-4.0 GPA) in May with a degree in cell and molecular biology. She’s one of just 10 players in NCAA history with at least 2,200 kills and 1,500 digs.
- Vanessa Freire was a part of the Florida State team that finished 2nd at the 2018 NCAA Championship tournament.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. She was also the vice president of Florida State’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee for 3 years and was a part of the Women in Leadership Development program. She was chosen in 2016 to represent Divsiion I athletics at the United Nations’ Youth Leadership Program. She graduated with a double major in marketing and advertising, and was on the 2018 ACC Honor Roll.
- Whitney Lloyd was a 2017 AVCA Division III Second-Team All-American and has received several campus academic awards in chemistry and biology. She’s also participated in extensive volunteer activities at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester; and a medical mission trip to Nicaragua, while pursuing American Indian medicine and health disparities (she is a descendant of Alderville First Nation in Ontario, Canada). She finished with a 3.86 GPA while majoring in biochemsistry and in August began medical school at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In 113 career matches, she had 905 kills, a .288 hitting percentage, 250 digs, and 307 blocks
- Sophia Proano had a perfect 4.0 GPA while studying biology, served as a senior captain, and was a two-time AVCA All-American. She is currently attending Physicians Assistant school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
- Lauren Hackett is the 2nd Cal Baptist athlete in history to be chosen for the top 30 for this award. She was a 2-year president of the International Justice Mission’s CBU chapter, and traveled for service projects to India and the Dominican Republic. She was also on the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Hackett plans to go pro in volleyball, beginning her career in the German league this fall, and is hoping to use that platform to do work in anti-huuman trafficking and poverty-relief for underprivileged women. “Now if I take it one step further, I am realizing the impact it can have later on,” Hackett said of her move to play pro. “I want to see how sports can empower. I have a vision of going to the Philippines and using volleyball as a way of ministry, empowerment and keeping kids off the streets.” She was also named the 2017 PacWest Player of the Year and was a two-time AVCA Division II All-American.