Volleyball earns a pair of AVCA All-America accolades
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- University of Texas seniors Mira Topic (Kastela Kambelovac, Croatia) and Bethany Howden (Austin, Texas) were voted to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America squads, the organization announced Wednesday night. Topic was a first-team honoree and Howden was a second-team honoree. A total of three 12-member teams were selected and then 63 honorable mention choices were announced. Topic and Howden were two of eight Big 12 Conference selections to the nation's three All-America squads.
The seniors' selections to the AVCA All-America squads mark the first time that two Longhorns were named to the coaches association's All-America squads since 1995 when Carrie Busch and Demetria Sance were both second-team honorees. Topic's first-team nod is Texas' first AVCA first-team selection since Erin Aldrich was a first-team performer in 1999.
Topic, a 2002 (third team) and 2003 (honorable mention) All-American, earned her third AVCA All-America nod. She was also a 2001 Freshman All-American, as voted by Volleyball Magazine. In 2001, Topic was the Central Region Freshman of the Year. This season, Topic led the Big 12 Conference - and is ranked sixth nationally - in kills/game (5.65) and was voted Big 12 Player of the Year. The 6-3 outside hitter connected for a .308 attack percentage on the season and this season broke both the Texas career (2,116) and single-season (593) kills records.
Howden, a 2003 (honorable mention) All-American and three-time first-team All-Big 12 honoree, earned her first spot on one of the three All-America squads. The 6-2 middle blocker was the team's top hitter - and ranked second in the Big 12 and 26th nationally - with a .378 mark while averaging 4.08 kills per game. Her .378 hitting percentage was the second-highest season-ending mark in school history, behind Lisa Denker's .410 in 1982. Howden, another 2001 Volleyball Magazine Freshman All-America choice, also led the Longhorns averaging 1.02 blocks per game. Howden will graduate Texas third on the UT career kills list with 1,802 kills.
The Longhorns saw their 2004 season end on Friday, Dec. 11, when the team lost to sixth-ranked Stanford in the NCAA Regional Semifinal in Green Bay, Wis. Howden had a team-high 18 kills and a .448 attack percentage in the loss, while Topic had 17 kills and 12 digs. The Longhorns, who reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1998, were ranked No. 10 in the country at the time and spent the majority of the season ranked among the nation's top 10 teams, a first since 1999.