SEATTLE – While last night’s rough loss in the Final Four was not how she envisioned her season would end, Washington junior Krista Vansant was today chosen as the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year, at the annual All-American awards banquet held at the Sheraton Hotel in Seattle. Vansant is the first Husky ever to win the AVCA honor. Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings was on hand to present Vansant with the award.
The award is the biggest and best in a long string of accolades for Washington’s all-around star. The Redlands, Calif. native was previously named Pac-12 Player of the Year and a First Team All-American, in addition to an armful of weekly honors throughout the season. Vansant helped the Huskies reach the Final Four for the first time since 2006, and win the Pac-12 title for the first time since 2005. The Huskies finished the year with a 30-3 record, the second-most wins for UW in the NCAA era.
Although this is the first AVCA National Player of the Year award won by a Husky, former setter Courtney Thompson was named the 2005 Honda Award winner, and Sanja Tomasevic was named Volleyball Magazine Player of the Year in 2005 as well. All played for Head Coach Jim McLaughlin, who guided UW to the Final Four for the fourth time in his 13 seasons.
"I did not prepare a speech, I just want to thank my friends and family and all my teammates for everything you guys do for me, you make my life so easy and I love you all so much," said Vansant on accepting the honor. "Love you Mom and Dad, thanks to my previous club coaches, I would say my previous high school coaches but those are my parents, so thanks again!"
Vansant finished the season with 511 kills, fifth-most in single season school history, and most in the 25-point scoring era. She averaged 4.41 per set while hitting .320. A six-rotation player who doubled as one of UW's primary passers, Vansant also had career-highs with 33 aces and also averaged 0.70 blocks and a career-best 2.82 digs per set. Vansant climbed up to fifth in career kills at Washington this season, now with 1,328.
One of the clinchers for the Player of the Year honor may have been Vansant's performance in the Elite Eight last week, as she set career-highs with 38 kills and 30 digs to help UW storm back from 0-2 down to win in five sets at USC to reach the Final Four.
This is the fourth year in a row that a Pac-12 player has won the AVCA National Player of the Year award, from four different schools. Last season was Oregon's Alaina Bergsma, preceded by USC's Alex Jupiter in 2011, and Carli Lloyd of California in 2010. Penn State's Megan Hodge was the last non-Pac-12 player to win the honor, in 2009. The last junior to win the award was Stanford's Foluke Akinradewo back in 2007.
The list of former winners is decorated with some of the greatest names in USA volleyball history, including Logan Tom, Misty May, Danielle Scott, Kerri Walsh, Tara Cross, and many more.
All-Time AVCA National Players Of The Year
2013: Krista Vansant (Washington)
2012: Alaina Bergsma (Oregon)
2011: Alex Jupiter (USC)
2010: Carli Lloyd (California)
2009: Megan Hodge (Penn State)
2008: Nicole Fawcett (Penn State)
2007: Foluke Akinradewo (Stanford)
2006: Sarah Pavan (Nebraska)
2005: Christina Houghtelling (Nebraska)
2004: Stacey Gordon (Ohio State); Ogonna Nnamani (Stanford)
2003: Kim Willoughby (Hawai'i)
2002: Logan Tom (Stanford)
2001: Logan Tom (Stanford)
2000: Greichaly Cepero (Nebraska)
1999: Lauren Cacciamani (Penn State); Kerri Walsh (Stanford)
1998: Misty May (Long Beach State)
1997: Misty May (Long Beach State)
1996: Angelica Ljungquist (Hawai'i )
1995: Cary Wendell (Stanford); Allison Weston (Nebraska)
1994: Laura Davis (Ohio State)
1993: Danielle Scott (Long Beach State)
1992: Natalie Williams (UCLA)
1991: Antoinnette White (Long Beach State)
1990: Bev Oden (Stanford)
1989: Tara Cross (Long Beach State); Teee Williams (Hawai'i)
1988: Tara Cross (Long Beach State)
1987: Teee Williams (Hawai'i)
1986: Mariliisa Salmi (BYU)
1985: Kim Oden (Stanford)