espnW Volleyball Player Of The Year: Washington's Krista Vansant
What did Washington's Krista Vansant have up her sleeve for an encore this 2014 volleyball season? Turns out, she had pretty much a repeat performance.
Last season as a junior, the Huskies' star outside hitter was the American Volleyball Coaches Association national player of the year and also won the Honda Award for women's college volleyball. She helped lead Washington to the national semifinals.
Tough act to follow, especially considering the vast amount of talent that is in just the Pac-12 this year, let alone nationwide.
But Vansant, a 6-foot-2 senior from Redlands, California, has made her final season at Washington another showcase for her diverse abilities, and her 31-2 Huskies are again in the hunt for a national championship.
All that is why Vansant is our espnW national player of the year.
Vansant and the Huskies -- who are host to one of the NCAA's four regionals this weekend -- will face familiar postseason foe Nebraska on Friday in Seattle (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU).
Vansant has repeated as the Pac-12's player of the year, and last week she also was given the league's scholar-athlete of the year award. A sociology major, she has a 3.30 grade-point average.
Her numbers on the volleyball court are equally impressive. This season, she has 550 kills -- an average of 4.7 per set -- with a .321 hitting percentage. Vansant has 297 digs, second most for the Huskies, who finished runner-up to Stanford in the Pac-12. Vansant also has 84 blocks this season.
She came to Washington on the fast track as an offensive star. But her game is much more well-rounded than that. She's worked hard on passing and serve-receiving, and her athleticism on defense has been a huge benefit for the Huskies.
Ultimately, though, what Vansant will always be remembered for by Washington fans is her hammering kills.
She became Washington's all-time leader in that category Saturday in the Huskies' second-round NCAA tournament match, setting the school record at 1,860. She goes into the regional semifinals with 1,878 kills in her Huskies career.
Vansant will finish as one of the most successful female athletes at Washington. Her Honda Award last season made her just the third Washington woman to be so honored in her sport, following fellow volleyball player Courtney Thompson and softball player Danielle Lawrie.
Vansant has a chance to match those two in another way as well, if she can help the Huskies win the NCAA title in Oklahoma City. Thompson's Huskies won the volleyball national championship in 2005, and Lawrie won the crown in softball in 2009.