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Nebraska volleyballer is female college athlete of year


Nebraska’s Sarah Pavan on Monday won the Honda-Broderick Cup as the nation’s female college athlete of the year. The award came six months after she and the Cornhuskers won the national volleyball championship.

So what’s she have planned for her senior year?

“To do it all again,” Pavan said. “I came to Nebraska to win a national championship, and I did. I’m not going to sit on my butt and relax. We’re definitely going to go for a second one.”

The junior from Kitchener, Ontario, guided No. 1-ranked Nebraska to a 33-1 record and was honored with the 31st edition of the award, which was presented at Columbia University in New York.

The Honda-Broderick Cup recognizes academic achievement and community involvement in addition to outstanding athletic accomplishments.

Pavan was selected by a vote of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program board of directors.

“I honestly didn’t expect I would win it No. 1, because the other athletes were just as qualified and have done so many things this past season,” Pavan said. “I’m just a junior. Some of the seniors who were up for the award have done amazing things.”

Other finalists for this year’s award were Tennessee softball player Monica Abbott, Maryland field hockey player Paula Infante, North Carolina soccer player Heather O’Reilly and Tennessee basketball player Candace Parker. Abbott, Infante and O’Reilly were seniors and Parker a junior.

Previous winners include track and field legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1985), soccer great Mia Hamm (1994) and basketball star Rebecca Lobo (1995).

“I don’t think it’s sunk in,” Pavan said. “I’ll never consider myself in the same category as Jackie Joyner-Kersee or Mia Hamm. Winning the same award as they did is such an honor.”

Pavan is the first Nebraska student-athlete to win the Honda-Broderick Cup. Five previous Huskers had won the Honda Award for being the top athlete in their respective sport.

“This is a great award for the University of Nebraska,” volleyball coach John Cook said. “I think the Husker nation is going to be really proud and feel great about this accomplishment. It’s a great reflection of all the hard work Sarah has put in and of all the people who helped her. She’s very deserving of this great honor.”

The 6-foot-5 right-side hitter led Nebraska to its third national title and a No. 1 ranking for the entire season. She was named the 2006 NCAA Championships Most Outstanding Player and the 2006 American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year.

Pavan maintains a 4.00 grade-point average in biochemistry. She’s involved in the Huskers’ Life Skills program, serving as a speaker on the program’s Tour of Excellence and during American Education Week. During the spring, she served as the keynote speaker for the School is Cool Jam, speaking to 2,300 eighth graders on dreaming big and setting high goals.

“I’m a perfectionist, and I expect nothing but the best in everything I do, both in volleyball and in school,” Pavan said. “I learned at a really young age how to prioritize my time. I’m also very interested in biochemistry, so it comes easier to me than to most people.”

Pavan said he plans to go to medical school and possibly become a pediatrician after her playing days.

On the Net:

Honda-Broderick Cup:

University of Nebraska-Lincoln athletics:

– Associated Press

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