Huskers volleyball star Pavan wins Honda-Broderick Cup
NEW YORK -- Nebraska volleyball star Sarah Pavan maintained a 4.0 grade-point average in biochemistry while leading the Cornhuskers to a 33-1 season and the NCAA title.
Those achievements earned the junior from Kitchener, Ontario, the 31st annual Honda-Broderick Cup as the nation's female college athlete of the year on Monday. She's the fourth volleyball player to win the award, and second straight winner from Canada.
Which was tougher, earning a 4.0 or winning a national championship?
"They're both so difficult in different ways," Pavan said. "I'd probably say winning the national championship because there are so many factors that you can't control."
The 6-foot-5 lefty took control in the championship game last December, registering 22 kills in a 3-1 win against Stanford and earning MVP honors. Nebraska became the first non Pac-10 team in five years to win a title, capping a season-long run atop the rankings.
Coach John Cook guided the Cornhuskers to their second national title in seven years, the last in 2000. He first saw Pavan play as a 16-year-old at a tournament in Salt Lake City.
"Obviously, players like that are once-in-a-decade recruits," Cook said. "When I did the home visit and looked out the back yard, I saw the corn field and train tracks. So I knew she would at least find something in common in Nebraska."
Pavan was among five finalists for the honor, beating out a powerful pair of Tennessee players -- Candace Parker (basketball) and Monica Abbott (softball). Other nominees included Paula Infante of Maryland (field hockey) and Heather O'Reilly of North Carolina (soccer).
Canadian soccer player Christine Sinclair of the University of Portland won the Honda-Broderick Cup last year. The award, presented at Columbia University, was voted on by an executive board that recognizes outstanding athletic and academic achievement and community involvement.
Pavan led the Big 12 in kills with a 5.10 average, good for 10th in the nation. She's a two-time conference player of the year.
Her parents played volleyball, and Pavan plans to play professionally in Europe and become a pediatrician.
First, she's got another year at Nebraska, where the Coliseum is home of 90 straight sellouts. Does she expect to repeat?
"Yes," she said without hesitation. "I came to Nebraska to win more than one national championship."
Kylee Hanavan, a soccer player from Metropolitan State College in Denver, won the Division II Honda-Broderick Cup. Tennis and basketball player Liz Bondi of DePauw University in Indiana captured the Division III honor.
Hanavan, of Northglenn, Colo., led the Roadrunners to two NCAA titles (2004, 2006) and leaves as the career leader in goals (80) and assists (46).
Bondi, of Park Ridge, Ill., is the Division III singles tennis champion and led the basketball team to the national title. She finished 31-2 in singles and 25-3 in doubles, and earned most outstanding player honors at the championship basketball tournament.
The Rutgers women's basketball team and coach C. Vivian Stringer won the Irv Grossman Award of Merit. The Scarlet Knights reached the NCAA championship game before losing to Tennessee.
The team, which withstood slurs from radio host Don Imus after the accomplishment, was recognized for its "great sportsmanship, class and human dignity."
Softball pitcher Jess Kohut of The College of New Jersey won the Inspiration Award after overcoming a 90-mph line drive that shattered bones in her face in March 2006.
"I didn't really have time to think when it came at me," Kohut said. "It was very scary. I remember everything -- the sound of the bat, the sound of the ball hitting my face, the feel of the ball hitting my face. I dropped to the ground. It was just an awful experience."
After facial surgery and sitting out seven months, Kohut, of Hillsdale, N.J., returned to play first base and pitched two innings with a protective face mask.
"The looks on my teammates faces were very comforting, they were very happy that I was there," said Kohut, who didn't sustain a concussion but still has problems with concentration.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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