Inky Ajanaku of Stanford University, Ebony Nwanebu from the University of Texas, University of Nebraska’s Kadie Rolfzen and Sarah Wilhite of the University of Minnesota are the four nominees for the Honda Sport Award for Volleyball as announced by Chris Voelz, Executive Director of THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) today.
The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the CWSA for the past 41 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics”. The winner of the sport award becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious 2017 Honda Cup which will be presented on a live telecast on CBS Sports Network on Monday, June 26, 2017, in downtown Los, Angeles.
The nominees were chosen by a panel of coaches representing the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). The Honda Sport award winner for volleyball will be announced next week after voting by administrators from over 1,000 NCAA member schools. Each NCAA member institution has a vote.
Ajanaku, a r-senior middle blocker from Tulsa, Okla., led her team to its record-tying seventh national title after being named the 2016 NCAA Championship MOP. She is a three-time AVCA first-team All-American and is a 2016 first-team Senior CLASS Award All-American. A four-time first-team All-Pac-12 honoree, she led the Pac-12 in blocks (184) and blocks per set (1.52) to rank fifth and sixth in the nation, respectively.
Nwanebu, a r-junior outside hitter is a two-time first-team AVCA All-American and led her team to the NCAA Championship match. She tallied 16 kills in her final match and was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team. Hailing from Fairview, Texas, she was a unanimous first-team All-Big 12 honoree and led her team in hitting percentage (.384) while ranking second on the team with 3.73 kills per set.
A senior outside hitter from Papillion, Rolfzen is a two-time first-team AVCA All-American and a 2016 first-team NCAA Senior CLASSS All-American. She is only the second four-time AVCA All-American in program history after earning third-team as a freshman and sophomore. A first-team CoSIDA Academic-All-American, she led her team in kills (370) and kills per set (3.16) ranking among the conference leaders.
Wilhite, a senior outside hitter from Eden Prairie, Minn., was named the 2016 AVCA and Big Ten Player of the Year after being named a first-team AVCA All-American and a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten honoree. She led her team to the NCAA Championship semifinals and was named to the 2016 NCAA Championship All-Tournament team. Wilhite led the Big Ten in kills (512) and kills per set (4.20), helping the Gophers lead the conferences in team hitting percentage (.293).
Honda Sport award winners will be presented with the honor during on-campus presentations throughout the year and all Honda Sport award winners become a finalist for the prestigious 2017 Honda Cup award presented in June.
THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards has honored the nation’s top NCAA women athletes for 41 years, recognizing superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $3.1 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women’s athletics programs at the institutions.