The preseason Big 12 awards were released today, with the conference’s last two champions (Kansas and Texas) scoring the most recognition. Each of the two schools put three players on the All-Big 12 Preseason Team, with 2016 AVCA First-Team All-American and Kansas right side Kelsie Payne named the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year.
After Kansas and Texas combined to take up six of the spots on the All-Big 12 Preseason Team, all seven other schools put exactly one player on the list. The awards were voted on by league coaches, although coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players.
Six of the 13 players on the list were voted unanimously: Katie Staiger of Baylor, Ainise Havili, Madison Rigdon and Kelsie Payne of Kansas and Ebony Nwanebu and Micaya White of Texas. All six were on some sort of AVCA All-America listing in 2016.
One of the most interesting names on the list is Chiaka Ogbogu, a former AVCA All-American who sat out last season. She returns on the All-Big 12 Preseason Team as Texas looks to get back to the top of the Big 12 in 2017.
For Payne, her Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year award is her second straight, as she also took home the 2016 postseason award when she averaged 4.77 points per set during Big 12 play last season. She will look to continue her play as Kansas defends its conference crown.
The Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year went to Texas outside hitter Lexi Sun, one of the nationally heralded recruits heading to Austin this season. It was the 10th time that a Longhorn earned the award.
All-Big 12 Preseason Awards:
Preseason Player of the Year: Kelsie Payne, Kansas, Sr., RS, Austin, Texas
Preseason Freshman of the Year: Lexi Sun, Texas, Fr., OH, Solana Beach, Calif.
All-Big 12 Preseason Team:
|Katie Staiger^*||Baylor||OH||6-1||Sr.||Lewisville, Texas|
|Jess Schaben*||Iowa State||OH||6-2||Jr.||Defiance, Iowa|
|Ainise Havili^*||Kansas||S||5-10||Sr.||Fort Worth, Texas|
|Kelsie Payne^*||Kansas||RS||6-3||Sr.||Austin, Texas|
|Madison Rigdon^*||Kansas||OH||6-0||Sr.||Pflugerville, Texas|
|Bryna Vogel||Kansas State||OPP||6-0||Sr.||Clearwater, Kan.|
|Madison Drescher||Oklahoma||OH||6-2||Jr.||Southlake, Texas|
|Anna Walsh||TCU||MB||6-2||Jr.||Grapevine, Texas|
|Ebony Nwanebu^*||Texas||OH||6-4||Sr.||Fairview, Texas|
|Chiaka Ogbogu||Texas||MB||6-2||Sr.||Coppell, Texas|
|Micaya White^*||Texas||OH||6-1||So.||Frisco, Texas|
|Reyn Akiu~||Texas Tech||L/DS||5-2||Jr.||Honolulu, Hawaii|
|Payton Caffrey*||West Virginia||OH||6-0||So.||Chuluota, Fla.|
^ – Unanimous Selection
* – 2016 All-Big 12 First Team honoree
~ – 2016 All-Big 12 Second Team honoree