Huskers Tabbed to Win Big 12 Volleyball Crown

Defending Big 12 champion Nebraska was selected to win the 2005 volleyball title in the annual preseason polling of the league's head coaches, the conference office announced on Wednesday. The Huskers captured all 10 of the possible first-place votes and 100 points overall, with coaches not being allowed to vote for their own teams.

In 2004, NU finished the season with a perfect league record (20-0) for the fourth time in conference history (2000-02, '04) and 15th overall. The Huskers have earned seven of the nine previous crowns. During the postseason, Nebraska was the last remaining Big 12 representative competing in the NCAA Championships field, advancing to the regional final against two-time national champ Southern California.

Missouri finished second behind NU with 88 points. Texas, Texas A&M and Kansas round out the top five, while Kansas State, Baylor and Colorado hold the six-eight spots. Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Iowa State are ninth, 10th, and 11th, respectively.

Nebraska paced the conference with three All-Big 12 selections while earning two of the three individual honors.

Husker sophomore Sarah Pavan headlines the preseason awards as the Player of the Year. Last season, the Kitchener, Ontario, native became the first freshman in school history to be named an American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American. She also received the organization's National Freshman of the Year accolade, another first for an NU player. Pavan earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year and was named all-conference first team after recording 4.54 kills per game and a .322 hitting percentage in all matches. In conference action, Pavan averaged 4.43 kills while maintaining a .339 hitting efficiency. The outside hitter set Husker freshman marks for kills (481) and kills per game, while recording 20-or-more kills seven times. Pavan posted a career-high and NU postseason record 35 in last year's regional final loss to USC -- the fifth-highest single-match total in school history.

Pavan's teammate Jordan Larson was tabbed as the Preseason Freshman of the Year. The 2004 Gatorade Nebraska High School Player of the Year compiled a Class C-1 state record 501 kills on a .490 hitting clip during her senior campaign at Logan View High School. Larson, a three-time all-state first team pick, also contributed 179 aces to lead the squad to the state semifinals. Internationally, she was a member of the United States Junior National Team for two years (2003-04). She led Team USA to the gold medal and claimed the Most Valuable Player and Best Receiver honors at the 2004 NORCECA Championships.

Returning All-Americans Melissa Elmer and Jennifer Saleaumua joined Pavan on the preseason all-conference team. Elmer, a first-team All-American in 2004, led the nation in blocking (1.89 blocks per game) while averaging 2.91 kills per game. Saleaumua, a second-team AVCA All-American in 2004, returns after averaging 3.09 kills and 3.74 digs per contest. Saleaumua was the league's co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, as Nebraska led the country in defense, holding opposing teams to a .103 hitting percentage.

The coaches selected Jennifer Todd (Texas) the Preseason Newcomer of the Year. Todd, a transfer from Washington State, earned All-Pacific 10 honorable mention honors as a sophomore in 2004. The 6-2 middle blocker hit .264 (381 kills on 886 attacks) while averaging 3.66 kills to lead the Cougars. Todd, a Henderson, Nev., native had double-figure kills in 22 of 29 WSU matches. She also tallied a team-high 1.17 blocks per game, which ranked seventh in the conference. Todd's two-year total of 216 block assists ranks ninth on the WSU career list, and her 259 total blocks is tied for ninth best all-time.

Nebraska begins preseason practice on Tuesday, Aug. 9, with volleyball media day slated for Thursday, Aug. 11, at 11 a.m. at the NU Coliseum. The Huskers will hold their annual Red/White Scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 20, before opening the season at the AVCA/NACWAA College Volleyball Showcase in Omaha on Aug. 26-27.

2005 Big 12 Preseason Volleyball Poll & Awards


Rank Team (First-place Votes) Points

 1. Nebraska(10) 100

 2. Missouri 88

3. Texas 77

4. Texas A&M 72

5. Kansas 68

6. Kansas State 56

7. Baylor 43

 8. Colorado 43

 9. Oklahoma 24

10. Texas Tech 21

11. Iowa State 13

Note: Ten points were awarded for first-place votes, nine for second, etc. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.

Preseason Player of the Year: Sarah Pavan, Nebraska, OPP, 6-5, So., Kitchener, Ontario/Forest Heights Collegiate Institute

Preseason Newcomer of the Year: Jennifer Todd, Texas, MB, 6-2, Jr., Henderson, Nev./Washington State

Preseason Freshman of the Year: Jordan Larson, Nebraska, OH, 6-2, Fr., Hooper, Neb./Logan View


Name, School Pos. Ht. Cl. Hometown/Previous School

Desiree Guilliard-Young, Baylor MB 6-5 Jr. Berkeley, Calif./Berkeley

Allie Griffin, Colorado RS 6-0 Sr. Baton Rouge, La./Santa Fe Christian (San Diego, Calif.)

 Ashley Nu'u Colorado S 5-10 Jr. Aurora, Colo./Smoky Hill

Josi Lima, Kansas MB 6-0 Sr. Sao Paulo, Brazil/Avanco

Lindsey Hunter, Missouri S 5-10 Sr. Papillion, Neb./Papillion-LaVista

Jessica Vander Kooi, Missouri OH 6-2 Jr. Merill, Iowa/Hinton

 Melissa Elmer, Nebraska MB 6-2 Sr. Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop

Sarah Pavan, Nebraska OH 6-5 So. Kitchener, Ontario/Forest Heights Collegiate Institute

Jennifer Saleaumua, Nebraska OH 5-11 Sr. National City, Calif./Bonita Vista

Joanna Schmitt, Oklahoma OH 5-10 Jr. Cottage Grove, Wis./Deerfield

Brandy Magee, Texas MB 6-2 Jr. Mission Viejo, Calif./Capistrano Valley

Michelle Moriarty, Texas S 5-10 So. Houston, Texas/Stratford

Laura Jones, Texas A&M OH 6-2 Sr. Arlington, Texas/Martin

Note: Twelve players are named to the preseason all-conference team -- a tie occurred in voting to result in 13 members this season.

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