With preseason nearly a week in and a week and a half until the first matches of the 2017 season, we at VolleyMob are looking at who could potentially be the Collegiate Volleyball Player of the Year.
A number of returning players from the 2016 season have our eye to contend for the prestigious honor, including upperclassmen and underclassmen. Young talent across the NCAA Division I set the honor up to be presented to a non-senior, though there are players in their final season that have the potential to do great things for their teams.
Below are the players that we believe will continue to build upon their impressive 2016 resumes and could work their way to the Collegiate Volleyball Player of the Year.
Jenna Gray, Sophomore setter at Stanford
Gray stepped up late in the season for the Cardinals, moving the Stanford offense from a 6-2 to a lone 5-1 with her in the driver’s seat. When the team switched over to the 5-1 after a 10-5 start, they continued the season on a 16-1 run that ended in the national title.
At the conclusion of the season, Gray had dished out 1,173 assists and 9.09 assists per set. In addition, she added 57 kills on the year for a .474 hitting clip, 19 aces, 220 digs and 55 blocks.
Samantha Seliger-Swenson, Junior setter at Minnesota
Heading into her junior season with the Gophers, Seliger-Swenson will look to lead the team to another strong season. The team made it to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament before they fell to the eventual champions, Stanford.
In 2016, Seliger-Swenson was named the Big Ten Setter of the Year, ranked first in the NCAA with 1,465 assists and eighth in assists per set with 11.63.
Ebony Nwanebu, Senior Outside Hitter at Texas
Nwanebu helped the Longhorns to a second place finish at the NCAA Tournament. She ranked 25th in the nation with a .379 hitting percentage, which led the Texas team.
Micaya White, Sophomore outside hitter at Texas
Last season, White led Texas in kills (479), kills per set (4.03) and points (551). In addition, she had a team-best 25 aces on the year.
Her season-best came against Oklahoma early in the year, as she put down 26 kills.
Molly Haggerty, Sophomore Outside Hitter at Wisconsin
Last season, Haggerty played a huge role for the Badgers, being named the 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year along with the AVCA Northeast Region Freshman of the Year.
Haggerty led Wisconsin in hitting with 3.41 kills per set. Against Texas A&M, Haggerty posted 27 kills in the three-set match, the fourth most in the NCAA for a three set match. She helped the team to a 28-5 record, falling to Stanford in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Haleigh Washington, Senior Middle Blocker at Penn State
Penn State didn’t have the year they were expecting in 2016, but Washington kept them going through the season, helping them to the Sweet Sixteen. The Nittany Lions fell to Nebraska, ending their season with a 24-10 record.
In the NCAA, Washington ranked third with a .430 hitting percentage on 291 kills. She led Penn State with 140 blocks on the year, adding 72 digs and 24 aces. Against Iowa, Washington posted a season-high 10 blocks, the ninth most in a three-set match in the NCAA.
Jaali Winters, Junior outside hitter at Creighton
Winters was a pivotal player for the Bluejays, being named to the All-Big East First Team. On average, Winters posted 4.07 kills per set, she set a season-best in kills with 28 against St. John’s.
In the NCAA Tournament, Winters helped Creighton upset the #5 ranked Kansas in five sets, posting 23 kills and 14 digs. Creighton advanced to the Elite Eight, where they fell to Texas.
Rhamat Alhassan, Senior Middle Blocker at Florida
Alhassan is a two-time All-American, that helped Florida to a 27-4 record in 2016. The Gators fell to Florida State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. She ranked ninth in the NCAA with a .419 hitting percentage and 11th in blocks with 1.45 blocks per set.
Mikaela Foecke, Junior Outside Hitter at Nebraska
Foecke put down 343 kills on the year with a .304 hitting percentage, recording 15 matches with double-digit kills.
Foecke was named the Most Outstanding Player during her freshman season on Nebraska’s way to their National Championship.
Katie Staiger, Redshirt Senior Outside Hitter at Baylor
Staiger kept Baylor alive during the season, helping the Bears to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2011. She was the first player in program history to be named to an All-American team by the AVCA (second team).
In the NCAA, Staiger ranked first in total attacks (1,773), third in points (768.5), third in total kills (698), third in attacks per set (13.85), fourth in kills per set (5.45) and fourth in points per set (6).
Caroline Knop, Senior Libero at Florida
After her first season with Florida, Knop posted 459 digs for an average of 4.37 per set. Against Ole Miss, Knop picked up a season-best 31 digs then posted six aces against South Carolina making it the 20th most in a three-set match in the NCAA.