The University of Nebraska was announced earlier this month as the host of the four-team tournament to be held in Omaha at the Qwest Center OMAHA. Nebraska has served as host for the event twice before in 1999 and 1995, but both events were contested at the Nebraska Coliseum in Lincoln, Neb. The Huskers will be making their fifth appearance in the event, and first time since 2001 when they won the tournament championship. Penn State is also making its fifth appearance in the tournament, but first since the 2000 season. Stanford and Hawai'i are making their fourth appearances in the event.
"This year's tournament showcases four of the top volleyball programs across the country, and is one of the strongest fields ever presented in the 11-year history of this event," AVCA Executive Director Katherine McConnell said. "The event will be a spectacular introduction into the 2005 volleyball season."
The Showcase first-round matches are Stanford versus Penn State at 5 p.m. CT and Nebraska versus Hawai'i at 7 p.m. CT on Aug. 26. The consolation and championship matches will be played on Aug. 27 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. CT.
The tournament will feature the defending NCAA Division I national champion Stanford Cardinal, which finished the 2004 season with a 30-6 record. Nebraska, ranked fifth in the final 2004 USA Today/CSTV Top 25 Coaches Poll, reached the NCAA Tournament regional finals. Penn State and Hawai'i advanced to the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals in 2004 and were ranked seventh and eighth in the final national poll, respectively. The four teams combined for a 119-12 record in 2004.
About Hawai'i (30-1 in 2004, 13-0 in
WAC, NCAA Regional Semifinalist, ranked 8th in final poll)
Hawai'i started the 2004 season off 30-0 without a senior in the lineup and lost just once all season, a heart-breaking five-game match to University of Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals. The Wahine, which started the season ranked 13th in the USA Today/CSTV Top 25 Coaches Preseason Poll, won the Western Athletic Conference with a 13-0 record. Two-time AVCA All-America setter Kanoe Kamana'o, a first-team pick as a sophomore in 2004, ignites the Hawai'i offense. Victoria Prince, a senior-to-be middle blocker for the Wahine, was chosen AVCA All-America Second-Team in 2004. Alicia Arnott was tabbed to the AVCA All-West Region honorable mention team as a sophomore outside hitter. Outside hitter Susie Boogaard and libero Ashley Watanabe were chose All-Western Athletic Conference Second Team as juniors in 2004, while outside hitter Tara Hittle was the WAC's 2004 Freshman of the Year. The Wahine do not lose any starters from their 2004 season and have signed Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selection Aneli Otineru for the 2005 season.
About Nebraska (30-2 in 2004, 20- in
Big 12, NCAA Regional Finalist, ranked 5th in final poll)
Nebraska finished the 2004 season with a 30-2 overall record and a 20-0 mark in the Big 12. The Huskers advanced to the NCAA Tournament regional finals before losing to Southern California in five games. Nebraska returns six starters from last season and loses just three letterwinners. Middle blocker Melissa Elmer, who will be a senior in 2005, is a two-time AVCA All-American. Sarah Pavan, who will be a sophomore right side/opposite hitter for the Huskers in 2005, was selected to the AVCA All-America First Team and named AVCA National Freshman of the Year in 2004. Jennifer Saleaumua, a senior-to-be outside hitter, was tabbed to the AVCA All-America Second Team in 2004. Setter Dani Busboom was named AVCA All-Central Region honorable mention as a sophomore in 2004. Jordan Larson and Amanda Gates, who will both be a freshman for the Huskers in 2005, are considered to be among the top recruits nationally this season.
About Penn State (29-3 in 2004, 18-2
in Big Ten, NCAA Regional Semifinalist, ranked 7th in final
Penn State captured the Big Ten championship with an 18-2 league record en route to a 29-3 mark in 2004. The Nittany Lions return four starters plus their libero from last year. Setter Sam Tortorello, who earned AVCA All-America First-Team honors as a junior, leads the experienced Penn State squad. Kate Price, a sophomore-to-be outside hitter, was named AVCA All-Region honorable mention and Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season. Starting middle blockers Cassy Salyer and Melissa Walbridge return for the Nittany Lions in 2005. Kaleena Walters, a senior libero, will play her senior campaign in 2005 after being named All-Big Ten as a junior. Penn State must replace three letterwinners, including AVCA All-America Second-Team selection Syndie Nadeau at right side/opposite hitter and Ashley Pederson at outside hitter. Penn State has signed three Gatorade High School State Players of the Year and Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selections, including Nicole Fawcett, Christa Harmotto and Laura Holloway.
About Stanford (30-6 in 2004, 15-3 in
Pac-10, NCAA National Champion, ranked 1st in final poll)
Stanford won its sixth NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship in 2004 with a sweep of Minnesota in the final. The Cardinal finished the season on a 15-match win streak after starting out 15-6. Stanford will have to adjust to life without AVCA Co-National Player of the Year Ogonna Nnamani, but the Cardinal has four starters and the libero coming back from its national championship team. Outside hitter Kristin Richards, who will be a junior in 2005, was named AVCA All-Pacific Region honorable mention, while starting setter Bryn Kehoe led the Cardinal to the championship as a freshman. Liz Suiter, who will be a junior middle blocker for Stanford in 2005, ranked among the top blockers in the country as a sophomore. Starting middle blocker Francie Girard returns for her sophomore campaign in 2005. Cardinal libero Courtney Schultz also returns for her senior campaign in 2005. Stanford has signed four of the top prep recruits in Cynthia Barboza, Erin Waller, Foluke Akinradewo and Alex Fisher. Barboza is a two-time Gatorade National Player of the Year, while Erin Waller was the PrepVolleyball.com National Player of the Year.
AVCA/NACWAA College Volleyball
University of Southern California has won the last two championships at the event, which is in its 11th season of competition. Stanford has won the event twice (1995, 2002). Nebraska (2001), Penn State (1997) and Hawai'i (1996) all have won the event once.
Champion Site NCAA
Division I National Tournament Finish
2004 Southern California Colorado State NCAA Semifinals
2003 Southern California Hawai'i NCAA Champion
2002 Stanford Minnesota NCAA Runnerup
2001 Nebraska Pacific NCAA Semifinals
2000 Colorado State Florida NCAA Regional Semifinals
1999 Pacific Nebraska NCAA Semifinals
1998 Long Beach State New Mexico NCAA Champion
1997 Penn State Stanford NCAA Runnerup
1996 Hawai'i Illinois State NCAA Runnerup
1995 Stanford Nebraska NCAA Runnerup
AVCA/NACWAA College Volleyball
Showcase Team Selection History
Brigham Young: 1997 (3rd)
UCLA: 2000 (2nd)
Cal State Northridge: 1995 (4th)
Colorado State: 2000 (1st); 2004 (3rd)
Florida: 1996 (3rd); 1999 (2nd); 2000 (4th); 2003 (3rd)
Georgia Tech: 2004 (4th)
Hawai'i: 1996 (1st); 2001 (4th); 2003 (2nd)
Illinois State: 1996 (4th)
Kansas State: 2003 (4th)
Long Beach State: 1998 (1st)
Minnesota: 2002 (2nd); 2004 (2nd)
Nebraska: 1995 (2nd); 1996 (2nd); 1999 (4th); 2001 (1st)
New Mexico: 1998 (4th)
Northern Iowa: 2002 (3rd)
Pacific: 1999 (1st); 2001 (2nd)
Penn State: 1995 (3rd); 1997 (1st); 1999 (3rd); 2000 (3rd)
Pepperdine: 2002 (4th)
Southern California: 1998 (2nd); 2003 (1st); 2004 (1st)
Stanford: 1995 (1st); 1997 (2nd); 2002 (1st)
Texas A&M: 1997 (4th)
Wisconsin: 1998 (3rd); 2001 (3rd)