Photo by Laura Leffler

Albrecht, Hunter Named Semifinalists for AAU Sullivan Award

By NU Athletic Communications

Nebraska senior volleyball standouts Annika Albrecht and Kelly Hunter have been named semifinalists for the prestigious AAU James E. Sullivan Award, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) announced Wednesday. 

The AAU Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Representatives from the AAU created the Sullivan Award with the intent to recognize amateur contributions and achievements from non-professional athletes across the country. Mikaela Foecke was a finalist for the award in 2015-16, and Kelsey Robinson was a finalist in 2013-14. Last year, Wisconsin setter Lauren Carlini became the first volleyball player to win the award.

Albrecht, an outside hitter from North Aurora, Illinois, was named a second-team AVCA All-American and an All-Big Ten selection in 2017. As a senior co-captain in her first year as a full-time six-rotation player, Albrecht averaged 3.02 kills per set and 2.74 digs per set while serving 34 aces. She finished her career at No. 6 on Nebraska's all-time career aces chart with 139. Albrecht became the third Husker in the John Cook era (2000-present) to play in every set (489) of her four-year Husker career - joining Sarah Pavan and Dani Busboom - and her 21 NCAA Tournament matches at Nebraska tied the school record set by Jordan Larson and Rachel Schwartz. Albrecht led the Huskers in the NCAA Semifinals against Penn State with 13 kills and 13 digs for her ninth double-double of the season, and she was named to the Lexington Regional All-Tournament Team after totaling a team-high 27 kills in the two regional matches. 

“I am honored and humbled to be selected as a semifinalist for the AAU Sullivan Award," Albrecht said. "And to have my teammate and co-captain, Kelly Hunter, on the ballot with me makes it even more special. I’m so grateful to the AAU Sullivan Award committee for including me alongside some amazing amateur athletes from around the country.”

Hunter, a Papillion, Nebraska native and three-year team captain, was named a first-team AVCA All-American and the Big Ten Setter of the Year in 2017, and she was an All-Big Ten selection for the second time in her career after leading the Huskers to a Big Ten and NCAA Championship. Hunter received numerous honors from volleyball publications, including National Player of the Year and All-America first-team honors from PrepVolleyball.com and VolleyMob.com. She was named co-Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championship with teammate Mikaela Foecke, and she finished her career with a 16-1 record in the NCAA Tournament as Nebraska’s starting setter, posting the most wins and highest postseason winning percentage by a starting setter in Husker history. 

"I want to thank the AAU Sullivan Award committee for naming me one of the semifinalists for this prestigious award, and I’m also super excited for Anni that she is on the ballot as well. It’s a little surreal to be up for an award that some big-time athletes have won throughout the years. I’m so excited to be mentioned as a candidate for this incredible honor."

Hunter ended her career with 4,125 assists, the second-most in Husker history, and she totaled 564 career postseason assists, the third-highest total in school history. Off the court, Hunter was a CoSIDA Academic All-District first-team honoree, and she was a semifinalist for the Senior CLASS Award. In her career, Hunter set the Huskers to three NCAA Semifinals and two NCAA Finals, winning both championship matches. She also became the first Husker setter to win back-to-back Big Ten titles.

World renowned golfer Robert “Bobby” Jones received the inaugural award in 1930 and swimmer Anne Curtis became the first female to accept the award in 1944. Other notable athletes to win the award include famed Olympians Mark Spitz (1971), Carl Lewis (1981), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986) and Michael Phelps (2003). Former UCLA basketball star Bill Walton (1973) and University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (1997) have also earned the prestigious honor.

Semifinalist voting is open to the public beginning at 8 a.m. (CT) on Wednesday and will close on March 20. Voting for Albrecht can be done here, and voting for Hunter can be done here. Fans can also cast their votes by tweeting #Albrecht4Sullivan or #Hunter4Sullivan on Twitter. Finalists for the 88th AAU Sullivan Award will be named following the public voting period. Voting for finalists will begin on March 23, and the winner will be announced in a ceremony at the New York Athletic Club on April 17. 

The 28 semifinalists for the 88th AAU Sullivan Award are:
Annika Albrecht, Rhamat Alhassan, Marvin Bagley III, Saquon Barkley, Joel Berry II, Christian Coleman, Caeleb Dressel, Erin Finn, Sara Hughes, Kelly Hunter, Megan Johnson, Micah Kiser, Bryce Love, Helen Maroulis, Baker Mayfield, Chris Mazdzer, Elana Meyers Taylor, Annie Peavy, Kathryn Plummer, Maia & Alex Shibutani, John Shuster, Carli Snyder, Kyle Snyder, Maggie Steffens, Gabby Williams, A’ja Wilson, Trae Young and Katie Zafares.

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