COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 11, 2013) – USA Volleyball is proud to announce setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) as its 2013 USAV Female Indoor Athlete of the Year and libero Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) as its 2013 USAV Female Indoor Most Improved Player of the Year.
“Our program’s biggest theme for 2013 was the commitment to learn, to grow and to pursue mastery relentlessly, and to support others doing the same; Alisha embraced and exemplified those notions,” U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “In competition, she played a major role in leading our young group to battle – and to a series of hard-fought wins – against the world’s best. Alisha was a big reason why USA got off to such a strong start in the new Olympic cycle.”
Glass started 28 of 31 matches at setter with a 10.22 assist average. She added set averages of 0.50 blocks (3rd on team among those with 40 percent of sets played), 1.85 digs and 0.88 points. She helped Team USA compile a 41.7 kill percent and .281 hitting efficiency for the season, which is impressive considering 84.3 percent of the team’s kills (1,291 of 1,531) were from non-Olympians and several had not played an FIVB-level event.
“It's quite an honor to be named USA Volleyball Indoor Athlete of the Year,” Glass said. “It's an amazing organization and an amazing group of girls. I want to thank the staff for creating an environment where athletes can truly learn and grow, both on and off the court. I also want to thank my teammates for committing to the process and our team goals; everyone is doing their best to make the team the best that they can be by 2016. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of such a special journey.”
Glass started the season by leading Team USA to the Pan American Cup gold medal and finished second in Best Setter despite not starting the first two matches. She started two of the three USA Volleyball Cup matches against Japan, registering 10.50 assists per set. Glass earned the Best Setter at the FIVB World Grand Prix as she averaged 9.81 assists, 0.48 blocks and 0.83 points per set during the course of starting all 14 matches. She led the U.S. to the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship gold medal with averages of 10.25 assists, 2.08 digs and 0.58 blocks per set. During the season-ending FIVB World Grand Champions Cup she led the U.S. to the silver medal with a 37.1 team kill percent. She ranked second in assists with 8.43 running sets, in addition to being eighth in Best Blocker with a 0.57 block average.
“This has been a wonderful first year of the Olympic quadrennial,” Glass said. “Every person involved in the program is working towards creating an environment where not only the athletes and team can grow, but also the sport of volleyball. We have big goals and big dreams and we are setting down the foundation and the stepping stones to bring our dreams within reach. I look forward to 2014 and continuing the process.”
Banwarth started 20 of 31 matches at libero during the 2013 season. She compiled 171 digs during the season over the course of 76 sets played for a 2.25 digs per set average. Banwarth produced a 69 positive reception percent with only nine reception errors on 345 chances.
“Wow! I have to say this is unexpected!” Banwarth said. “The amount of hard work that each and every USA athlete puts in every day is unreal. So I'd like to make this a team honor, because without my teammates and coaches challenging me every day to be great, there would have been no improvement. Thank you to Karch and the rest of the USA staff, and of course my teammates for making this year so special! I can't wait for next summer!”
“We talk about how the last team improving is the last team standing, and it applies to individuals too,” Kiraly said. “Kayla stayed ready for the Instant of Competition, for her opportunities in uniform. She just kept getting better in 2013, to the point where her consistently strong performance had a big impact on our solid finishes at NORCECA and Grand Champions Cup, and on the momentum we've built in this new quad.”
Banwarth was selected as the Best Receiver at the season-opening Pan American Cup after producing a 67 positive reception percent. She was the libero for the opening USA Volleyball Cup match against Japan and contributed 14 digs in the four-set win. Banwarth started five matches of the FIVB World Grand Prix averaging 1.62 digs per set, including 21 digs in the final two matches of the tournament’s Final Round. In helping the U.S. win the NORCECA Continental Championship, she recorded a 3.00 dig average, ranked atop the Best Receivers category with an 89.6 efficiency and was the second-leading libero. Banwarth finished the season-ending FIVB World Grand Champions Cup as the second-leading digger with a 3.19 average.