As the USC women’s volleyball team finished off its regular season last weekend, freshman outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu capped off one of the most impressive first seasons of all time. With 23 kills last week against conference rivals UCLA and Colorado, Nwanebu led the Women of Troy to two sweeps and also picked up a record sixth Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award.
With her sixth selection, Nwanebu has become the all-time record holder for the award as she surpasses her sophomore outsider hitter teammate Samantha Bricio, who was honored five times last season. Nwanebu has been the model of consistency all year for the Women of Troy — her first selection came exactly three months prior, and she has been honored at least once each month of the season.
Nwanebu’s play this past week was exemplary of her stellar season as she posted double-digit kills in both matches and also contributed to the defensive effort with a total of six digs and three blocks.
Perhaps the most impressive component of Nwanebu’s play is her efficiency. She only committed three errors over the course of two matches and finished with a stellar .426 hitting percentage.
As a testament to Nwanebu’s consistent yearlong play, her season statistics have made her the only outside hitter and the only freshman to rank in the top-10 hitting percentages in the conference with a .354 clip, making her fifth in the Pac-12. Her offensive play will be key for USC as it heads into the NCAA tournament this week and looks to advance out of the first and second rounds at the Galen Center.
Since the award’s inception in 2011, USC players have claimed Freshman of the Week honors on 12 separate occasions. Along with Nwanebu’s six and Bricio’s five honors, current freshman outside hitter Elise Ruddins picked up the award during the week of Sept. 16 after her outstanding performance in the University of San Diego preseason tournament.
Nwanebu and Ruddins will each compete in their first NCAA tournament starting this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against New Hampshire. The winner of that match will go on to play either Colorado State or Cal State Northridge for the right to move on to the regional round.
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