Wednesday, December 2, 2015

College | Pac-12 Volleyball's Postseason Award system explained

Why wasn't Washington's Cassie Strickland named Pac-12 Libero of the Year? 

Pac-12 coaches turned their backs on Washington libero Cassie Strickland (8) in 2015 Libero of the Year voting
-Volleyblog Seattle file photo by Leslie Hamann
Why wasn't Washington's Cassie Strickland named Pac-12 Libero of the Year? 

That's been a frequently-asked questions ever since Strickland was the only libero named to the 2015 All-Pac-12 Volleyball Team, but not named the conference's top libero. That honor went to UCLA's Taylor Formico, who was included in the Pac-12's Honorable Mention recipients. 

A Pac-12 media spokeswoman explains the conference's postseason awards calculations: 
  • Each head coach submits a ballot ranking their top 20 choices for the All-Pac-12 team, regardless of position. Each coach submits a similar ballot for the All-Freshman Team. 
  • Coaches may not vote for players on their own team. 
  • Nominees are awarded 20 points for a first-place ranking, 19 for second, etc. 
  • The top 18 point-getters are named All-Pac-12. 
  • The top point getters for All-Pac-12 and for All-Freshman are named Player of the Year (USC's Samantha Bricio) and Freshman of the Year (Stanford's Haley Hodson), respectively. 
  • Coaches submit separate ballots for Setter of the Year, Libero of the Year and Coach of the Year. Coaches may rank up to two individuals per award. Nominees are awarded 3 points for a first-place ranking and 1 point for second-place. Once again, a coach may not vote for someone on their own team. 

The Strickland/Formico outcome, then, is a little odd. Strickland—but not Formico—was one of the consensus top 18 players in the conference, and the only libero so designated. In theory, Strickland may have been named on more Libero of the Year ballots than any other player, but—because of the 3-points-for-first and 1-point-for-second rule—couldn't overcome Formico's total in that scenario. 

Even more intriguing, Strickland was a three-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week this season, an honor that Formico never won even once. 

Strickland, by the way, earned honorable mention in 2014, but was named Pac-12 Libero of the Year. There were no liberos on the 2014 All-Pac-12 Team. Strickland was not, however, named to the AVCA All-Region Team last season, which made her ineligible for All-American consideration. This year's All-Region selections should be announced next week. (see below) 

  • Washington had two All-Pac-12 selections: Strickland and senior middle blocker Lianna Sybeldon. Four other Huskies were named Honorable Mention: senior middle blocker Melanie Wade, sophomore outside hitter Tia Scambray, sophomore opposite Crissy Jones and sophomore setter/opposite Bailey Tanner. Outside hitter Destiny Julye was an All-Freshman Honorable Mention. 

  • When AVCA All-Americans are announced during the Omaha Final Four, look for Sybeldon at the podium. Last season, she was Third Team selection. This year, she leads the nation in hitting percentage and is among the leaders in blocks per set. 

  • Although Mick Haley was voted Pac-12 Coach of the Year by his peers, the AVCA Pacific Region Awards are divided into North (including Washington) and South (including USC) divisions. That means it is still possible for Washington first-year coach Keegan Cook to be selected as an AVCA Regional Coach of the Year, and be eligible for the National Coach of the Year ballot. It also means Strickland (North) and Formico (South) will be competing in separate AVCA Regions.  


  1. It's end of the season realizations. Cassie - All Conference, but not libero of the year. The Huskies ranked number one by the coaches poll, yet the NCAA committee along with the RPI nonsense has us as a 5 seed. USC the number one seed in the tournament (a team we beat soundly at the end of the season), Nebraska with a lower RPI getting a higher seed only because their home court is the championship site, at least that's the only reason I can fathom. In the end the Huskies still need six more wins, regardless of their seed.

  2. Appreciate the information, which confirms my suspicion there was a separate vote for the Libero of the Year, which accounts for Cassie making the first team but having a second teamer be named Libero of the Year instead.

    Still, this information does not explain my puzzlement about Courtney Schwan being snubbed entirely. Let me repost in part my comment to your earlier article:

    What I can’t comprehend is the injustice done by Pac-12 head coaches to our best outside hitter, Courtney Schwan. She has effectively stepped into the huge shoes left behind by Krista Vansant, the National Player of the Year. In a more limited role (584 to 1326 TA), she has eerily similar stats (.319 to .320 A% and 2.51 to 2.59 Dig/Set) and leads the Huskies in K/s and Receiving% and is 2d in Dig/Set. If there is an MVP on the squad, she would be it.

    Of the ten OHs selected to the All-Pac-12 Team, none bests her in attack percentage. Even if credence is given to the need for spreading the wealth, both USC and Stanford got a second OH on the All-Pac-12 Team - Brittany Abercrombie and Brittany Howard. Courtney’s stats are arguably superior to both. She should have received All-Pac-12 honors. Yet, she wasn’t even selected for honor mention.

    Can you explain this travesty?

    I respectively request that you ask that Pac-12 spokeswoman to release the vote totals. I want to see how many points Courtney got. A Vansant replacement who has done remarkably well could not have flown entirely under the radar of the Pac-12 coaches. Stuart McDowall, in his comment, offered a plausible explanation. Before I buy into his conspiracy theory, I want to look at the vote totals.

    If she declines because the Pac-12 needs to protect the integrity of the coaches’ poll, tell her that we are seeking just the vote totals, not each coach’s votes. Ask her to consult with Pac-12 legal counsel on how the Pac-12 intends to explain to a federal district court judge in Seattle why the Pac-12 is entitled to withhold this information in a FOIA action against the Pac-12.

    1. Pac-12 should be renamed to the Cali-4 and the rest. Look at their selections for all century teams in football. Majority Cali teams. The Pac-12 and the NCAA have fair and unbiased selection committee's right? The Dawg's are #1 in the nation by the coaches poll yet stuck at #5 in the tourney supposedly due to low RPI.

  3. How does the first year head coach Keegan Cook win the national champion sound?

  4. To me it looks like the typical behavior of trying to spread the awards around. If you have a whole team full of great players it's hard to get them all the recognition they deserve.

  5. More undeserved disrespect.. lets get this done ladies!

  6. I realize we're all homers here, but this: To be POTY two years (or more) you have to be Krista V level elite. Goin' to the Olympics level elite. If not, they pass the trophy around. These are student-athletes, remember, and passing around some recognition for playing is cool with me. For most of them, this is their pinnacle, v-ball career wise.

  7. I'd guess Keegan would have gotten P12 Coach of the Year had Mick Haley not had such a bad last season. Oddly his team's poor performance last year made him seem genius this year by comparison. The other interesting omission from the All Pac 12 teams was ASU's Macey Gardner. Certainly she was not considered due to her mid season injury, but she certainly put up league leading numbers prior to that point.

    Looking forward to a great tourney at any rate!

  8. I also wonder how Courtney did not even get honorable mention all Pac-12. I'm not sure how many games she missed, but she is #1 for OH in the pac-12 in hitting percentage per NCAA statistics (must average 3.33 attacks per set). She is #1 in kills per set on our team, #3 in aces per set on our team, #2 in digs per set on our team, and #2 in points per set on our team. Being one of the best players statistically on the #1 ranked team in America (per AVCA), does that not scream all-league? Jack, any insight into how a whole conference could miss this?


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