Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NCAA | The volleyball All-American Cassie Strickland oversight

Regional snub precluded national consideration

  • NCAA semifinal | BYU vs. Texas | Oklahoma City | 4PM (Pacific) | ESPN2
  • NCAA semifinal | Stanford vs. Penn State | Oklahoma City | 7PM (Pacific) ESPN2

Pac-12 Libero of the Year, Cassie Strickland
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann
OKLAHOMA CITY--When the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced today that three Washington Huskies--senior Krista Vansant (First Team), senior Kaleigh Nelson (Third Team) and junior Lianna Sybeldon (Third Team)--are 2014 All-Americans, some wondered about an obvious oversight: junior libero Cassie Strickland.

Strickland was named Pac-12 Libero of the Year in a vote of conference coaches. Yet USC libero Taylor Whittingham and Stanford libero Kyle Gilbert were honored on the AVCA All-American Honorable Mention list, but Strickland was nowhere to be found.

The answer is simple, if frustrating. The only eligible candidates for All-American honors are those who are first selected to one of the eight AVCA All-Regional teams. Those regions are based on geography, not on conferences, and honorees are selected by regional committees. Strickland was not named to the Pacific North Region team, so she could not be considered for the national awards.

We saw a lot of liberos this year. In the last month of the season, none played as well as Strickland. At the very least, her 2014 credentials were far more impressive than USC's Whittingham.


Today was media day here in Oklahoma City. During Penn State's session, venerable head coach Russ Rose, while answering questions about his next opponent, Stanford, made a few comments about the Washington Huskies. Among them:

  • "Washington's very good."
  • "I know how it is to play Washington with a huge partisan crowd, and it's a real challenge."
  • "In my mind, (Stanford and Washington) were the top two teams throughout the season."


BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead looked and acted very much like a coach who is thrilled to be in his first Final Four.  He finds himself in the company of Penn State's Rose, who is making his record twelfth Final Four appearance. Stanford's John Dunning is here for the eleventh time. Texas' Jerritt Elliott is up to number seven. 

BYU Head Coach Shawn Olmstead laughs about his playoff mustache during Media Day in Oklahoma City
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann

Olmstead seems determined to keep his players loose by keeping the mood light. The BYU coach prompted plenty of grins when he answered a question about, well, his facial grooming. He considered growing the kind of full-fledged "playoff beard" popular in MLB and the NHL, he said, but thought it might look too straggly. He settled instead for a tournament mustache. 

"(We) started taking selfies with the girls and celebrating," Olmstead recalled. "They said it's creepy, but hilarious. So, we went for it. 

"I'm the first to say it's horrendous. But, it's fun. Let's do it." 


  1. Dawg fan here. Rooting for BYU. What an upset it could be.

  2. Penn State is a machine. Top recruiting will keep them in the hunt for years to come. With Micha Hancock finally gone that will give some teams a chance but I could not see the Huskies beating them this year.

    As for Cassie I honestly don't think she is top tier at purely Libero yet. If you count what she brings with her services then OK. Next year she is going to be woman!

  3. Casse Strickland is a very talented libero. She probably does not get enough credit for the she does. The problem is that liberos normally don't get as much credit. If you look back from 2010-2013 the only libero to be named 1st team all american is natalie hagglund. It is hard to be given credit when you are playing libero.

    As for USC libero, she deserves more credit than this article gives her. She led the Pac 12 in digs per set. She averaged 4.97 digs per set and Strickland was 9th in the league with 3.96 digs per set. Overall Strickland had 471 digs on the season and whittingham had 571. She deserves more credit.


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