Seattle’s West earns First-Team All-American award; Ebony Nwanebu says “I miss my home”
|Pepperdine's Matt West and Southern California's Ebony Nwanebu|
Ebony Nwanebu, one of the Pac-12’s best players and the 2013 AVCA National Freshman of the Year, announced that she is leaving USC. She has not yet indicated where—or even if—she will continue playing college volleyball.
The supremely gifted 6-4 outside hitter was a huge force two seasons ago, earning First-Team All-American honors as a freshman. She averaged 3.47 kills per set and totaled 413 kills, helping the Trojans to a 29-6 record. Her freshman season ended as she totaled 30 kills in a 3-2 Elite 8 loss to Washington.
Nwanebu was invited to compete with the US National Team last summer, but suffered a serious back injury during a tournament in Montreux. Last fall, she struggled to heal as her performance—and that of USC—slid, producing a 16-16 record, including 8-12 in the Pac-12. The Trojans lost 3-1 to North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
In a blog posted Monday, Nwanebu offers a detailed explanation for her decision to leave Southern Cal. In part, she writes:
“The fact is, I miss my home, I miss my family. I miss my little brother who is having to grow up without me around. I miss my mom who is having to support me and my brother, and having to pay for his monthly hospital bills all by herself. I tried to make this work, I fought my own mind for this to work. I sought out help to make this work. But it simply didn’t. And for that I am sorry.”
The entire blog post is worth a read; it includes important glimpses to the pain and pressure that some athletes endure. Another excerpt:
“It was hard for me really, I struggled so much with my identity. I’ve spent so much of my life wanting what people have wanted me to want, and doing what other people have been telling me what I should want to do… but what do I really want? What do I really want to do? Who am I? Well, I’m a teenager, from a small country town in Texas, currently I am thousands of miles from my biggest supporters and my sickly little brother. I like the color pink, I skip everywhere I go (literally), I’m still stuck my Disney phase and occasionally will burst out into song. And I’ve learned that moving far, far away, forces someone to grow up pretty quickly.”
Volleyblog Seattle always considered Nwanebu a class act. We wish her well.
SEATTLE’S MATT WEST REPEATS AS ALL-AMERICAN
Matt West, who grew up in Seattle, has earned AVCA All-American honors for the third consecutive season. The Pepperdine senior was named to the 2015 First Team, an award he also won in 2013. Last season, he was named to the AVCA Second Team.
West’s Pepperdine team had another fine season, but fell just short of qualifying for this week’s NCAA Final Six. Tonight in Palo Alto, Loyola Chicago plays Pfeiffer, with the winner advancing to Thursday’s semifinal against UC Irvine. Hawai’i faces Penn State for the right to play Lewis. The championships are Saturday.