Female athlete of the semester: Hannah Werth

By Nedu Izu on December 10th, 2012

Hannah Werth crushed the volleyball down 12 times against St. Louis Aug. 24. The outside hitter would finish the 2012 season with a tremendous 20 double-digit-kill matches and propel Nebraska to a 26-7 overall record.

For her success and impressive performances this season, Werth is the 2012 Daily Nebraskan female athlete of the semester.

After Nebraska’s Nov. 24 match against Northwestern, Husker coach John Cook described the Springfield, Ill., native as one of the best volleyball players to put on a Husker uniform.

“Hannah’s put her heart and soul into this team and program,” Cook said after the team’s second round victory against. “I think our crowds have seen that with the ovations she gets.”

In that match, Werth bashed 17 kills to hit for .342 hitting percentage in her final regular season match as a Husker.

The impressive performances were nothing new to Husker fans as Werth hit above the .300 mark several times during Nebraska’s 16 victories at the Nebraska Coliseum.

Several of the senior’s greatest clutch performances came at home, including one specific match Nov. 10 against Purdue.

“It was one of the best matches I think I’ve ever coached here,” Cook said.

After being swept a year ago by the Boilermakers in its debut season in the Big Ten Conference, Nebraska, trailing 2-1 saw its matchup points away from another defeat.

However, behind Werth’s eight kills in the final two sets, Nebraska won the match 3-2 aided by Werth’s season-high 18 kills and an explosive .447 hitting percentage.

The stellar performance and the defeats against then-No. 1 teams UCLA and Penn State are a few of the reasons why Werth said she’ll miss playing at the Coliseum.

“The Coliseum was amazing,” Werth said. “Just to have that seventh man, their energy was fantastic.”

Werth finished the season with a career-high 360 kills (3.05/per set), while averaging a .291 swinging percentage.

And it’s not just on the offensive side of the net Werth has performed with much power all season.

The senior had a flare for the dramatics on defense as well, especially when it would come up to matter the most in the postseason.

“I thought Hannah was the best defensive player in the Big Ten,” he said. “I was hopeful she’d get the award when it came out.”

Although, Penn State’s Katie Slay took home this season’s Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Award, Werth has won it before.

During the last year of Nebraska’s stay in the Big 12, the then-sophomore tallied 297 digs to earn the 2010 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award.

During the 2012 NCAA Tournament, Werth recorded 52 digs in Nebraska’s four matchups, including a 22-dig performance against Washington on Friday in the Omaha Regional semifinal.

The team-high defensive effort came as no surprise to Cook.

“That’s Hannah, she thrives on playing defense,” the coach said. “She’s gotten a lot better at reading and she’s so athletic, she can cover a lot of court back there.”

Werth finished this season leading her team with a career-high 390 digs (3.31/set), and 68 blocks (.58/set).

Her 14 double-doubles assisted the Huskers to 16 sweeps of their opponents this season and a spot in the 2012 NCAA Tournament elite eight.

But it’s not just her powerful style of play, or glasses and headbands Cook says he’ll miss from Werth next season.

The passion the communication studies major exhibited was one of the things he cherished most during Werth’s career.

“She brings so much energy and intensity to our team which I think is really important,” he said. “That’s what you want; you want that fire and that passion, that sense of urgency.”

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