Sarah Pavan, a junior right side hitter from Kitchener, Ontario, is the fourth Husker to earn AVCA National Player-of the-Year honors, joining Allison Weston (1995), Greichaly Cepero (2000) and Christina Houghtelling (2005).
"I was a little surprised," Pavan said after the announcement. "There are so many great players out there. It was humbling to be up there with those great people and to be singled out among all of them is unbelievable."
Friday's honor for Pavan marks the first time that one school has won the AVCA honor in consecutive years with different players, a feat that Pavan, a three-time All-American, credits to the efforts of the Husker coaching staff.
"It proves how good of a program that Nebraska is," Pavan said. "The coaching staff has done amazing things to help me become the player I am. The fact that Nebraska players have won it two years in a row speaks volumes for our program
Friday's honor is the second major award that Pavan has earned in the past month, as she was the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American of the Year, carrying a 4.00 GPA in biochemistry. Pavan becomes only the second player in NCAA Division I history to sweep both major athletic and academic volleyball awards the same season, joining Stanford's Ogonna Nnamani, who won both honors in 2004.
Pavan averages a Big 12-best 5.08 kills per game, a total that ranks in the top-10 nationally, while also ranking among Big 12 leaders in points per game (5.99, first) and service aces per game (0.35, sixth). Her 564 kills ranks third on NU's single-season list, while her 5.08 kills per game is second only to Nancy Metcalf's 5.09 kills per game set in 1999. Pavan, who also averages 1.01 blocks and 1.43 digs per game, has four double-doubles in 2006 and nine matches this season with at least 20 kills, including the regional title match against No. 9 Minnesota and Thursday's national semifinal against No. 4 UCLA.
One of only three Huskers to earn three first-team All-American certificates, Pavan has led No. 1 Nebraska to a 32-1 record and a match-up with No. 2 Stanford Saturday night. The Huskers have been ranked No. 1 all season and will look to become only the third team in NCAA Division I history to be ranked No. 1 an entire season.
The Huskers will look for their third NCAA title Saturday night, as they take on No. 2 Stanford beginning at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.