Year | Pos. | School
So. | OH | USC
VBM’s 2012 Freshman of the Year continued her reign of dominance this season, setting a new USC single-season record for service aces, finishing with 85.
Sr. | MB | Minnesota
The true definition of a team leader, Dixon led the Gophers in kills (457), kills per set (3.66), hitting percentage (.399), total blocks (161), and points (570.5).
Haley Eckerman – *Player of the Year*
Jr. | OH | Texas
The VBM and Big 12 Player of the Year hasn’t gone a collegiate season without appearing in the Final Four. And that’s with her senior season still to come.
Sr. | L | USC
Named the Pac-12 Libero of the Year three times, this academic standout also owns the USC record with 2,310 total career digs.
Sr. | S | Missouri
The top setter to take the court this season, she led the nation in assists per set at 12.65 and earned SEC Player of the Year accolades.
Sr. | OH | Nebraska
She only spent one season at Nebraska, but it was a good one. The Big Ten Player of the Year averaged 4.45 kills and 3.33 digs per set.
Sr. | MB | Penn State
At 6'6" this middle hitter had a team-high 207 blocks and averaged 1.63 blocks per set. Slay was also fourth on the team in kills with 274.
Jr. | OH | Washington
We knew she was going to be at the top of the pack – the 6'2" Husky graced our cover in April 2011 when she was her high school class’ top recruit.
Sr. | OH | Texas
The 6'3" Baltimore native will be missed on the Longhorns squad. She was a clutch player that could be counted on whenever a game was on the line.
Sr. | MB | Stanford
The top blocker in the Pac-12 with 1.43 blocks/set, Wopat combined with sophomore fellow Cardinal Inky Ajanaku for the strongest middle presence in the country.
Year | Pos. | School
Jordan Burgess So. | OH | Stanford
Kristen Hahn Sr. | L | Iowa State
Micha Hancock Jr. | S | Penn State
Emily Hartong Sr. | OH | Hawaii
Lisa Henning Sr. | OH | Missouri
Chloe Mann Sr. | MB | Florida
Deja McClendon Sr | OH | Penn State
Ebony Nwanebu Fr. | Opp. | USC
Ariel Scott Sr. | Opp. | Penn State
Lauren Wicinski Sr. | OH | Michigan State
Year | Pos. | School
Inky Ajanaku So | MB | Stanford
Khat Bell Jr. | MB | Texas
Chloe Ferrari Sr. | MB | San Diego
Macey Gardner So. | OH | Arizona State
Elizabeth Koberstein Sr. | S | Marquette
Ashley Neff Sr. | MB | Florida State
Alexis Olgard Sr. | MB | USC
Ziva Recek So. | OH | Florida
Emily Sklar So. | OH | Duke
Ashley Wittman Sr. | OH | Minnesota
The Volleyball magazine NCAA Women’s All-American lists are compiled through votes submitted by coaches, media, and sports information directors from around the country.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Haley Eckerman (Texas)
There’s a reason we sent VBM writer Lee Feinswog to check in with Haley Eckerman this fall and write a full-length feature on the dynamic Texas junior. Her accolades speak for themselves (VBM NCAA Freshman of the Year in 2011, VBM Player of the Year and part of the National Champion squad in 2012, repeat Big 12 Player of the Year in 2013) but it’s her character and spunk that really grabs fans.
There is little doubt in our mind that Eckerman was the best player to suit up this season. She was an all-around force on the court, steering the Longhorns to a 27-3 regular season record where they went undefeated at home. She led the team in kills (447) while hitting .272 with 38 aces. The outside hitter has recorded 18 career double-doubles, and with her senior year still ahead of her, the possibilities seem endless for this Waterloo, Iowa, native.
It’s worth mentioning that Eckerman achieved all of these gargantuan feats while also looking after her son. Cayden, who will turn four in May, has served as both fan and inspirational leader for his ultra-talented mother during her years at Texas. Eckerman told Feinswog that while it is a challenge to be a student, athlete, and mother all at the same time, the struggle is well worth the reward.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Ebony Nwanebu (USC)
When star high school athletes move to college, they sometimes get lost in the crowd, meeting for the first time other players as talented as they are, and maybe not prepared for the higher level of competition. Not so for Ebony Nwanebu, the USC freshman hitter who dominated the Pac-12 this year, collecting a .358 hitting percentage (good for third on the team and top-10 in the Pac-12) and helping her team fight all the way to the regional finals of the NCAA tournament.
The 6'4" Fairview, Texas, native and 2012 VBM High School Player of the Year intimidated opponents at the net in her first collegiate season, putting down 97 blocks in 113 matches played; a performance that earned her Pac-12 and AVCA Freshman of the Year and First Team All-American honors and VBM’s Freshman of the Year award.
Nwanebu shone especially bright in the NCAA tournament where she averaged a .504 hitting percentage in the Trojans four matches, earning a career-high 30 kills in the five-set loss to Washington in the regional final.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Kelly Sheffield (Wisconsin)
How does a team that went 17-16 and failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament in 2012 show up in the final four a year later? They hire Kelly Sheffield.
The Muncie, Ind., native and Ball State grad made a name for himself at the University of Dayton, where in five years the team made the NCAA tournament each season and won the Atlantic-10 conference four times. In 2012, UD went undefeated in conference competition and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. (It’s worth noting that this season, Dayton did not qualify for the tournament.)
In the spring of 2012, Wisconsin lured Sheffield to Madison, and he jumped right into the gym with a group of players he didn’t recruit and didn’t know much about. When the season started in August, he channeled the talent of 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year setter Lauren Carlini, powerful senior outside hitter Ellen Chapman, and undersized outside 5'7" Deme Morales to pull off impressive wins over Big Ten foes Purdue, Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan, and Michigan State, ranked No. 5 in the country at the time.
A 23-9 regular season record (12-8 in the very strong Big Ten) earned Wisconsin the 12th seed in the tournament, in which they defeated Milwaukee, Cal, Florida State, Purdue, and Texas, earning them a ticket to the national championship match for the first time since 2000. The regional final win over Purdue earned Sheffield his 300th career win as a head coach, but expect many more to come as Sheffield settles in and continues to improve this Wisconsin program.
Originally published in February 2014