IRVING, Texas — Two-time All-American Jordan Larson leads five Nebraska volleyball players that earned Big 12 honors from the league’s coaches on Monday. The senior from Hooper, Neb., became the first player in Big 12 history to win two league awards in one year, as she was chosen as both the Big 12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
Larson paces a Huskers’ contingent that also included the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in sophomore setter Sydney Anderson and the Big 12 Coach of the Year in John Cook. The Huskers placed a league-high five members on the All-Big 12 teams, including first-team selections Larson, Anderson, Kori Cooper and Tara Mueller. Senior Amanda Gates rounded out NU’s honorees, as she was named honorable-mention by the league’s coaches.
It is the fourth All-Big 12 award for Larson and the first for Anderson, Cooper, Mueller and Gates. The All-Big 12 awards are selected by the league’s head coaches, who are not allowed to vote for their own players.
A four-time All-Big 12 performer, Larson becomes the Huskers’ fourth straight Big 12 Player of the Year, and the 11th year a Husker has been named Player of the Year in Big 12 history. She also was selected as the league’s top defensive player for the second time, also earning the honor in 2006. This season, she ranks among the Big 12 leaders in four categories, including points (4.75, second), kills (4.11, third), service aces (0.31, third) and digs (3.23, 10th) in conference action. Larson is on NU’s top-10 career list in kills, digs, service aces and solo blocks, while her 51 double-doubles are the most by a Husker in the Big 12 era. The 2008 season marks her third straight first-team All-Big 12 selection. Larson’s four individual awards (2005 Freshman, 2006 and 2008 Defensive and 2008 Player) match the league mark of four held by former Husker great Sarah Pavan.
Anderson lived up to the billing as the league’s top newcomer, pacing the league with 11.87 assists while recording 1.94 digs and 1.40 points per set in conference action. She also leads the Big 12 in assists in all matches with 11.72 per set and could be the first Husker to do that in Big 12 history. Anderson was named Rookie of the Week five times during the year and has helped NU lead the Big 12 in both kills and assists per set. She came to NU after spending the 2007 season with the USA National Program in Colorado Springs.
Mueller earns her first All-Big 12 award as she ranked sixth in the league in both kills (3.53) and points (3.99) per set during the year while also averaging 2.33 digs and 0.49 blocks per set.. The sophomore from Scottsdale, Ariz., led the Huskers in kills 12 times, including 20 in a win over No. 14 Kansas State and 19 in a road win at Texas A&M. She is second on the squad with six double-doubles, all of which came in conference action.
Cooper was the fourth Husker named first-team All-Big 12, as the junior middle blocker averaged 2.09 kills and 0.88 blocks per set. She is second in the Big 12 and 15th nationally in hitting percentage, as her .396 hitting percentage ranks ninth on NU’s single-season list. She hit .500 or better in eight matches and reached double figures in kills four times, including a season-best 12 kills at Iowa State on Sept. 27. She will miss the remainder of the season following knee surgery on Nov. 20.
Amanda Gates rounds out the Huskers’ All-Big 12 performers, as she averages 1.73 kills and a team-best 1.11 blocks per set. She enters the NCAA Tournament ranked fifth in the league in blocks and sixth in hitting percentage (.338). Gates has had four matches with at least 10 kills, all coming in Big 12 action this season. She had a career-high 11 kills at No. 4 Texas and at Iowa State and tied her personal best with 10 blocks in a win at No. 18 Kansas State.
Cook was chosen as the league’s top coach for the third time in his nine years at Nebraska (also 2001 and 2005) after guiding the Huskers to an 18-2 league mark and a share of the Big 12 title after NU was tabbed for second in the preseason poll. The Huskers have won or shared the last five Big 12 titles and have captured eight league crowns in Cook’s nine years at Nebraska. In his nine years at Nebraska, Cook is 277-18 overall and 172-8 in Big 12 matches. The .939 winning percentage is the best in the nation this decade.
Other individual winners include Freshman of the Year Michelle Kocher (Texas) and Libero of the Year Ashley Mass (Iowa State).
2008 ALL-BIG 12 VOLLEYBALL AWARDS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jordan Larson, Nebraska, OH, Sr., 6-2, Hooper, Neb./Logan View
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR Sydney Anderson, Nebraska, So., S, 6-0, Salt Lake City, Utah/Utah
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Michelle Kocher, Texas, S, 5-10, Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jordan Larson, Nebraska, OH, Sr., 6-2, Hooper, Neb./Logan View
LIBERO OF THE YEAR: Ashley Mass, Iowa State, L, So., 5-8, Muskego, Wis./Muskego
COACH OF THE YEAR: John Cook, Nebraska
ALL-BIG 12 FIRST TEAM
Name, School Pos. Cl. Ht. Hometown/Previous School
Taylor Barnes, Baylor S Jr. 5-11 Arlington, Texas/Martin
Anna Breyfogle, Baylor MB Jr. 6-0 Buda, Texas/Hays
Victoria Henson, Iowa State OH So. 5-11 Leavenworth, Kan./Leavenworth
Kaylee Manns, Iowa State S Jr. 5-10 Topeka, Kan./Washburn Rural
Rita Liliom, Kansas State OH Sr. 6-0 Budapest, Hungary/Csik Ferenc
Nataly Korobkova, Kansas State OH Sr. 6-3 Krasnoyarsk, Russia/State Siberian 1 Tech.
Sydney Anderson, Nebraska S So. 6-0 Salt Lake City, Utah/Utah
Kori Cooper, Nebraska MB Jr. 6-2 Amarillo, Texas/Amarillo
Jordan Larson, Nebraska OH Sr. 6-2 Hooper, Neb./Logan View
Tara Mueller, Nebraska OH So. 6-0 Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain
Ashley Engle, Texas OPP Jr. 6-3 Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza
Juliann Faucette, Texas OH So. 6-2 San Diego, Calif./Westview
Destinee Hooker, Texas OH Jr. 6-4 San Antonio, Texas/Southwest
Lauren Paolini, Texas MB Sr. 6-5 Ann Arbor, Mich./Saline
ALL-BIG 12 HONORABLE MENTION
Name, School Pos. Cl. Ht. Hometown/Previous School
Jen Malcom, Iowa State MB Sr. 6-1 Schaller, Iowa/Syracuse
Ashley Mass, Iowa State L So. 5-8 Muskego, Wis./Muskego
Megan Farr, Kansas State MB Sr. 5-10 Manhattan, Kan./Manhattan
Amanda Gates, Nebraska MB Sr. 6-2 Columbus, Neb./Columbus
Sarah Ammerman, Texas A&M OH Jr. 6-2 Parker, Colo./Chaparral
Mary Batis, Texas A&M OH Jr. 6-0 San Antonio, Texas/Clark