SEATTLE – Three Huskies were named All-Americans today by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, one day before Washington takes to the KeyArena court to play in the national semifinals on Thursday. Junior Krista Vansant ascended to the fourteen-person First Team for the first time, and junior Kaleigh Nelson picked up her first All-America nod with a Third Team choice, while senior Jenna Orlandini was named honorable mention.
Three AVCA All-America honors in one season is the most for the Huskies since 2010, when Kindra Carlson and Becky Perry were Second Team selections and Bianca Rowland was honorable mention. Vansant is the first Husky on the First Team since Christal Morrison in 2007. Washington has now had fifteen different players earn AVCA All-America honors under Head Coach Jim McLaughlin, and nineteen different players in school history.
Each of the three AVCA All-America Teams is comprised of 14 athletes. The awards will be presented this Friday, Dec. 20, here in Seattle at the AVCA All-America/Players of the Year Banquet.
The First Team honor is the latest in a long line of accolades for the junior from Redlands, California. So far this season she has been a four-time Pac-12 Player of the Week, an AVCA National Player of the Week, an All-Pac-12 selection and the Pac-12 Player of the Year. Leading UW to the Final Four with a huge 38 kills, 30 digs effort last Saturday at USC, Vansant was also named Most Outstanding Player of the Los Angeles Region.
Vansant has upped her production across the board from an already high standard set last year when she was a Second Team All-American. She’s averaging 5.14 points per set, which ranks 13th in the NCAA, while hitting an efficient .323.
Nelson has gone from appearing in just a handful of sets as a freshman to an All-American just two years later. The Salem, Ore. native finished second in kills per set (3.06) on a Husky squad that captured the Pac-12 title and advanced to the Final Four. In the NCAA Regional Final over the University of Southern California in a fantastic five-set match, she nailed 14 kills and recorded seven digs.
Orlandini is an All-America Honorable Mention for the first time as she has anchored the Husky defense for the past four seasons, and is three sets away from tying Courtney Thompson for the most sets-played in UW history (currently with 447). Orlandini ranks 12th in Pac-12 history and third in Husky history with 1,968 digs. Her 32 aces this season is a big career-high, and her passing is a big reason the Huskies have been aced only 61 times this season, one of the lowest totals in school history.
The three will look to lead the Huskies against No. 2 Penn State, which had four All-Americans of its own, in the Final Four at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow.