Inky Ajanaku, Micaya White, Creighton’s Bernthal Booth top VolleyballMag.com All-America teams

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Stanford's Inky Ajanaku is VBM's player of the year, Creighton's Kirsten Bernthal is coach of the year, and Micaya White of Texas is freshman of the year
Stanford’s Inky Ajanaku is VBM’s player of the year, Creighton’s Kirsten Bernthal is coach of the year, and Micaya White of Texas is freshman of the year

VolleyballMag.com is proud to announce its 2016 NCAA Division I All-American teams, player of the year, freshman of the year and coach of the year.

The player is Inky Ajanaku, the senior middle blocker who led the Cardinal to the NCAA title.

The freshman is outside hitter Micaya White, and the coach of the year is Creighton’s Kirsten Bernthal Booth, who took her Bluejays to the NCAA round of eight after going unbeaten in the Big East.

In the old Volleyball magazine, we had two teams of 12 players each and a 24-player honorable-mention list.

We found that to be entirely too restrictive with the way the game has grown, with so many outstanding players and the sport getting better on all levels.

So we have 12 players on the first, second, and third teams plus a 48-player honorable-mention list.

A few things that make us different from the AVCA All-American teams, of which there are three teams of 14 and then 72 honorable-mentions:

We don’t take submissions, nor are there submission guidelines to which the schools must adhere. Not submitting candidates properly cost some schools in the AVCA.

Our process is ongoing throughout the season and we have the advantage of waiting until after the NCAA Championship is conducted to finish the lists. We are able to consider a player’s performance throughout the regular season and include the postseason.

None of the decisions were taken lightly and we think because of the volume of matches we watch throughout the season and because we have no ties to a particular school or conference, the teams are balanced and comprehensive of the women’s college game.

For the top three honors, the debate was fierce.

While Ajanaku sewed up POY with her remarkable performance in the NCAA Tournament and had the body of work through the season to support the choice, Ebony Nwanebu of Texas, Kadie Rolfzen of Nebraska, Sarah Wilhite of Minnesota and Justine Wong-Orantes all were at the top of our discussions.

The back and forth for freshman of the year was heated. Kathryn Plummer of Stanford was magnificent this season, especially in the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky’s Leah Edmond, BYU’s McKenna Miller, USC’s Khalia Lanier, Wisconsin’s Molly Haggerty and North Carolina’s Julia Scoles were right up there. Ultimately White’s overall performance this season could not be denied.

And for coach of the year, we are proud to present the honor to Booth, who was in a pool that included Stanford’s John Dunning (and we certainly support the AVCA making him its coach of the year), North Carolina’s Joe Sagula, BYU’s Heather Olmstead and UCLA’s Michael Sealy. Booth has done a tremendous job at Creighton as the college volleyball world has taken notice that there’s another team in Nebraska.

Player of the Year — Inky Ajanaku, Stanford
Freshman of the Year — Micaya White, Texas
Coach of the Year — Kirsten Bernthal Booth, Creighton

Ebony Nwanebu of Texas celebrates a point against Stanford in the NCAA title match/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Ebony Nwanebu of Texas celebrates a point against Stanford in the NCAA title match/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

First team

Inky Ajanaku, Stanford, 6-3 SR MB: Had 360 kills — 89 in the NCAA Tournament — and hit .407 for the season, to go with 192 blocks, 1.54 per set.

Lauren Carlini, Wisconsin, 6-2 SR S: ranked first in the Big Ten with 11.81 assists per set. Led the Badgers with 34 service aces, averaged 2.62 digs and 0.81 blocks.

Taylor Formico, UCLA, 5-7 SR L: Pac-12 libero of the year for the second straight season after not only averaging 5.15 digs but also 1.12 assists per set. Also had 21 aces.

Ebony Nwanebu, Texas, 6-4 JR OH: Had 407 kills, 3.73 per set, and had 72 blocks and 17 aces.

Kelsie Payne, Kansas, 6-3 JR RS: Big 12 player of the year after leading the Jayhawks with 418 kills while hitting .320. She had 209 digs and 103 blocks.

Kadie Rolfzen, Nebraska, 6-3 SR RS: Led the Huskers with 3.16 kills per set and 2.58 digs per set while hitting a career-high .295.

Courtney Schwan
Washington’s Courtney Schwan

Courtney Schwan, Washington, 6-1 JR OH: Pac-12 player of the year after leading the Huskies with 438 kills, 3.71 per set, 64 aces and 322 digs.

Samantha Seliger-Swenson, Minnesota, 5-11 SO S: Big Ten setter of the year after averaging 11.63 assists, 0.43 kills and 0.56 blocks.

Taylor Sandbothe, Ohio State, 6-2 SR MB: Led the Buckeyes with 506 kills, 3.83 per set, and 144 blocks, 20 solo. She hit .315 and had 34 aces.

Nikki Taylor, Hawai’i, 6-4 SR OPP: The Big West player of the year averaged 4.54 kills per set, had 196 digs and 52 aces.

Justine Wong-Orantes, Nebraska, 5-6 SR L: Big Ten defensive player of the year for the second straight season after averaging 4.23 digs per set and finishing her career as Nebraska’s all-time digs leader with 1,890.

Sarah Wilhite, Minnesota, 6-2 SR OH: Big Ten and AVCA player of the year after leading Minnesota with 537 kills, averaging 4.26 per set. She averaged .288 and hit over .300 19 times this season.

Second team

Adora Anae, Utah, 6-1 JR OH: Led the Utes with 592 kills, 246 more than her closest teammate, averaged 4.70 kills per set, had 34 aces and a team-high 407 digs.

Amy Boswell, BYU, 6-4 SR MB: Had 350 kills while hitting .372 and 148 blocks, 1.26 per set and also 27 aces.

Abby Cole, Michigan, 6-5 SR MB: Led the Wolverines with 396 kills, hit .396, and had 124 blocks, 30 solo.

Molly Haggerty, Wisconsin, 6-1 FR OH: Big Ten freshman of the year, led Wisconsin with 3.41 kills per set.

Alex Holston, Florida, 6-2 SR RS: Led the Gators in kills with 402, hit .369, had 172 digs and 75 blocks.

Simone Lee, Penn State, 6-1 JR OH: Led the Nittany Lions with 503 kills, more than 200 more than her closest teammate, averaged 4.16 kills per set, and had 194 digs.

Taylor Leath, North Carolina, 6-3 SO OH: The ACC player of the year led the Tar Heels with 374 kills, hit .252, and had 299 digs, 70 blocks, 20 assists and 19 aces.

Kathryn Plummer, Stanford, 6-6 FR OH: Pac-12 and AVCA freshman of the year after switching at mid-season from right side to outside and totaling 431 kills, 3.34 per set, to go with 27 aces, 224 digs and 113 blocks.

Paulina Prieto Cerame, Texas, 6-2 SR OH: Had 411 kills, 3.54 per set, and 64 blocks.

Amber Rolfzen, Nebraska, 6-3 SR MB: Averaged 1.94 kills per set and a team-best 1.38 block, hit .319.

Hannah Tapp, Minnesota, 6-2 SR MB: Hit .319 with 328 kills and averaged 1.06 blocks.

Micaya White, Texas, 6-1 FR OH: Big 12 freshman of the year led the Longhorns with 462 kills, 4.02 per set, 24 aces and had 2.19 digs per set.

UCLA junior Reily Beuchler gets ready to unload against Baylor/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
UCLA junior Reily Buechler gets ready to unload against Baylor in the NCAA Tournament/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Third team

Reily Buechler, UCLA, 6-1 JR OH: Led the Bruins with 428 kills, was second with 303 digs and 21 aces.

Chloe Collins, Texas, 5-7 SR S:  averaged 11.59 assists and 2.46 digs, had 23 aces and — despite her height — 46 blocks.

Danielle Cuttino, Purdue, 6-4 JR MB: Moved from outside to middle this season and led the Boilermakers with 530 kills, averaged 4.11 per set and had 78 blocks.

Leah Edmond, Kentucky, 6-2 FR OH: The SEC freshman of the year led the Wildcats with 450 digs, 4.25 per set, had 21 aces, 103 digs and 57 blocks.

Ainise Havili, Kansas, 5-10 JR S: Averaged 10.61 assists, had 71 kills, 24 aces and was second on the team with 324 digs.

Lily Johnson, Missouri State, 5-11 JR OH: Missouri Valley Conference player of the year for the second straight season after leading the Bears with 604 kills, fifth in the NCAA. Averaged 4.54 kills per set, had 408 digs, 46 aces and 48 blocks, 14 solo.

Lisa Kramer, San Diego, 6-2 SR RS: Led the Toreros with 383 kills, 4.21 per set.

Khalia Lanier, USC, 6-2 FR OH: Led the Women of Troy with 491 kills, almost 200 more than her next closest teammate, averaged 4.06 kills per set, had 26 aces, 315 digs and 47 blocks.

Haleigh Nelson, Wisconsin, 6-4 SR MB: Averaged 2.51 kills per set, had 33 aces and hit .396 for the season.

Danielle Rygelski, Saint Louis, 5-11 SR OH: Led the nation in both kills with 715 — nearly 500 more than her next closest teammate — and kills per set with 6.01, led with 65 aces, was second in digs with 293, and had 53 blocks.

Haleigh Washington, Penn State, 6-3 JR MB: Hit .430 while averaging 2.40 kills per set, had 24 aces and 140 blocks, 20 solo.

Jaali Winters, Creighton, 6-2 SO OH: Led the Bluejays with 448 kills, 3.61 per set, had 360 digs, 36 aces.

Honorable Mention

Stephanie Aiple, Texas A&M, 6-1 JR S

Rhamat Alhassan, Florida, 6-4 JR MB

Jordan Anderson, UCLA, 6-0 SR OH

Ali Bastianelli, Illinois, 6-3 SO MB

Kaitlyn Blake, Texas A&M, 6-2 SO MB

Katie Brand, Kansas State, 6-1 SR S

Alyssa Cavanaugh, Western Kentucky, 5-10 JR OH

Melanie Crow, Missouri, 6-1 JR OH

Lydia Dimke, Creighton, 6-3 JR S

Mikaela Foecke, Nebraska, 6-3 SO OH

Jennie Frager, UCLA, 6-4 SR MB

Alyssa Garvelink, Michigan State, 6-4 JR MB

Janey Goodman, JMU, 6-2 SR RS

Carol Grasso, CSU Bakersfield, 5-6 SR OH

Jenna Gray, Stanford, 6-1 FR S

Sydney Griffin, North Dakota, 5-11 JR S

Leah Hardeman, Coastal Carolina, 5-10 JR OH

Morgan Heise, SMU, 5-6 SR L

Morgan Hentz, Stanford, 5-9 FR L

Briana Holman, Nebraska, 6-1 JR MB

Kyra Holt, Washington State, 6-1 SR OH

Kelly Hunter, Nebraska, 5-11 JR S

Crissy Jones, Washington, 6-2 JR OH

Carly Kan, Missouri, 5-9 SR OH

Grace Kauth, Cleveland State, 5-10 SR OH

Melanie Kiel, Florida State, 6-1 SR MB

Milica Kubura, Florida State, 6-4 JR OH

Abbie Lehman, Wichita State, 6-3 JR MB

Morganne Longoria, Valparaiso, 5-2 SR L/S

Merete Lutz, Stanford, 6-8 JR RS

Kalei Mau, Arizona, 6-1 SR OH

Cara Mattaliano, Princeton, 6-1 SR OH

McKenna Miller, BYU, 6-1 FR OH

Demi Muses, New Hampshire, 5-11 SR MB

Sierra Nobley, Boise State, 6-1 JR OH

Carlyle Nusbaum, Lipscomb, 5-10 SO OH

Jenna Radtke, NIU, 6-2 SR MB

Krystal Rivers, Alabama, 5-11 SR OH

Elise Ruddins, USC, 6-3 SR MB

Jessica Sloan, Dayton, 6-1 JR OH

Penina Snuka, Arizona, 5-6 SR S

Katie Staiger, Baylor, 6-1 JR OH

Julia Scoles, North Carolina, 6-1 FR OH

Lauren Schad, San Diego, 6-2 SR MB

Bailey Tanner, Washington, 6-1 JR S

Lindsey Vander Weide, Oregon, 6-3 SO OH

Stephanie Williams, Pittsburgh, 6-0 F OH

Tionna Williams, Wisconsin, 6-2 SO MB

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