With the 2016 NCAA Women’s Volleyball tournament field laid out, it’s time to think about who will be our 2016 National Player of the Year.
Here is who to watch for in the tournament:
Kadie Rolfzen – Nebraska
Rolfzen, a three time All-American, looks to lead her team to another National Championship this season. She is the current kills leader for Nebraska with 314 on the year and second on the team with 251 digs.
Rolfzen helped to lead Nebraska to a four set victory over Michigan in their final regular season match, with a double-double of 11 kills and 16 digs.
Continuing play like her final match will surely get her recognized for the end of the season award.
Nebraska takes on New Hampshire first in the tournament on December 2 at 8 pm.
Justine Wong-Orantes – Nebraska
Wong-Orantes is speculated to become the first ever libero to win National Player of the Year honors. With an impressive 402 digs so far this season and 4.14 digs per set she could easily amass the award.
This season she surpassed Kayla Banwarth’s previous record of 1,706 digs, after she picked up 23 digs against Penn State to put her on top at 1,713. Since then she has picked up another 96 digs, putting her career total to date at 1,809 digs.
Lauren Carlini – Wisconsin
This senior is one to watch out for, with four years of experience as an all-star setter for Wisconsin, she is the one to beat. Carlini is currently ranked fifth in assists per set with 11.77 in 2016, for her career she is second overall with 11.50 assists per set, behind Samantha Seliger-Swenson of Minnesota.
Carlini also leads the national with the most sets in a career with 5,406, nearly 400 more than the player behind her.
Wisconsin’s first match up in the tournament will be against Howard on December 1 at 8:30 pm.
Sarah Wilhite – Minnesota
Wilhite has been dominate for Minnesota, she is ranked in the top 100 in six categories, four of which are in the top 50. Wilhite has produced 4.14 kills per set this season, ranking in at 38. She helped propel Minnesota to a tough five set victory over No. 1 Nebraska with a double-double of 19 kills and a career-best 25 digs.
Wilhite leads the Minnesota offense with 451 kills on the year and second on the team with 284 digs.
Minnesota takes on North Dakota in their first round of the tournament on December 2 at 8 pm.
Kelsie Payne – Kansas
As an All-American junior, Payne has excelled on the court this season. She has earned Big 12 Player of the Week twice and the AVCA Player of the Week once this season. Payne has produced double-digit kills in 21 of the 27 games Kansas has played this season.
In their final regular season match up, Payne posted a team-best 19 kills against Baylor to become the sole winners of the Big 12 title.
Kansas’s first match will come against Samford on December 1 at 7:30 pm.
Alex Holston – Florida
An underdog choice, senior Alex Holston enters the National Player of the Year chase. Holston is rolling off 10 huge performances for Florida, posting an impressive .365 hitting percentage on the year.
In Florida’s final regular season match against Arkansas, Holston put down 24 kills with only three errors on 36 swings for a .583 hitting percentage. Her season-best hitting percentage came to LSU when she posted 10 kills on no errors and 14 swings for a .714 hitting percentage.
Florida will take on Alabama State in their first round of the tournament on December 2 at 7 pm.
Autumn Bailey – Michigan State
Another underdog choice is junior Autumn Bailey, who currently holds a team-best 331 kills on the year and is second on the team in digs with 284.
A top performance for Bailey came against Michigan, in a four set battle. She posted 19 kills and 20 digs for a double-double in the match.
Michigan State will face Fairfield in their first round of the tournament on December 2 at 7:30 pm.
The 2016 NCAA volleyball tournament opens up play on December 1-3 with rounds 1 and 2. Check out the full bracket and playing dates here.