Four Huskers Named AVCA All-Americans

The Nebraska volleyball program continued its record-setting season on Wednesday, as four players earned AVCA All-America honors, including a national-best three first-team selections.

Melissa Elmer (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, Ontario) and Christina Houghtelling (Cambridge, Neb.) were all chosen as first-team All-Americans, while Jennifer Saleaumua (National City, Calif.) received third-team honors, as three 12-member teams were selected in voting by the AVCA committee.

The honorees, which improved Nebraska's NCAA leading total to 53 certificates among 26 athletes, marked just the second time that Nebraska has had four All-Americans in one season with the other coming in 2001. It also was the first time since 1995 that Nebraska had three first-team honorees. Including 2005, Nebraska has had multiple first-team selections 12 times in school history, including five times in John  Cook's six seasons.

The group is led by a pair of repeat selections in senior Melissa Elmer and sophomore Sarah Pavan. Elmer leads the nation in blocks, as she averages 2.18 blocks per game. The 6-foot-2 senior has had at least 10 blocks in a match 10 times this season, including a Big 12 record 16 stuffs at Kansas on Oct. 8.  She also ranks among the national leaders with a .387 hitting percentage. A three-time All-American, Elmer, who earned MVP honors at the InfoUSA/Arby's Players Challenge and the Sports Imports Classic, earned second-team accolades as a sophomore before garnering first-team honors in each of the last two seasons.

Pavan also became a two-time first-team All-American with Wednesday's selection. The Big 12 Player of the Year, Pavan ranks among the league leaders in hitting percentage (.351, eighth), kills (seventh), blocks (seventh), aces (0.31, 12th) and points per game (fifth, 4.76). She has topped NU in kills 12 times, including a season-best 22 kill performance against Missouri on Nov. 13. Pavan has had four double-doubles and also posted a triple-double with 11 kills, 11 blocks and 10 digs against Pepperdine on Sept. 8.

Houghtelling was honored as an AVCA All-American for the first time in 2005, the only one of the four Huskers to be honored for the first time. She was the Big 12's top outside hitter, averaging 3.71 kills, 2.45 digs and 1.00 blocks per game and ranks fourth in the Big 12 with a .375 hitting percentage. She has hit over .400 in 18 matches, including nine of the last 12 contests. Houghtelling earned MVP honors at the AVCA/NACWAA Showcase and at last weekend's NCAA regional, when she had 18 kills on .615 hitting and six blocks against No. 4 Florida.

Saleaumua earned her second All-America certificate with her selection to the third team. The 5-foot-11 senior is the two-time Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year and averages 3.82 digs, 2.29 kills and 0.81 blocks per game. She tops all Big 12 outside hitters in digs per game, and has had six double-doubles this season, including a 13-kill, 12-dig effort against UCLA in the regional semifinal. She is one of only two players in school history to have over 1,000 kills and digs, as she holds NU's career digs record with 1,522 entering the national semifinals.

In all five of the 12 first-team selections were from the Big 12, as Missouri's Lindsey Hunter and Texas A&M's Laura Jones were also honored,

The No. 1 ranked Huskers will take on No. 11 Santa Clara in Thursday's second semifinal, which is set for 8 p.m. (central) on ESPNU. The match will also be shown live at the Devaney Center, and doors open at 7:30 p.m. Fans who can't watch Thursday's match can also listen to it on the Pinnacle Sports Network, including B107.3 FM and KFAB 1110 AM.

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