SANTA BARBARA, Calif – Freshman libero Taylor Formico added to her list of season accolades on Wednesday morning, as she was named an All-American Honorable Mention by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).
It is the fourth consecutive year that UCSB has had an All-American recipient, but Formico is just the second freshman in UCSB history to be named to the team, the last being Roberta Gehlke in 1997.
She had previously been honored by the AVCA as the West Region Freshman of the Year, and was also honored as a All-Big West First Teamer and Big West Freshman of the Year for her historic season that saw her lead the entire nation in digs with 792, setting a school and conference record in the process.
In addition to her impressive dig total, her 5.87 digs per game average ranked first in the conference and region, while ranking eighth nationally.
Though she was consistently good, she was prone to bursts of extraordinary play, recording 30 or more digs in a match 12 times, almost twice as many times as any other player in the NCAA. Her 41 digs against Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 19 were the most by a Gaucho in the rally-scoring era, the most ever in a conference match, and tied for the most in program history for any match.
"It was such an honor to coach this young woman," said UCSB head coach Kathy Gregory. "To be named an All-American in your freshman year is so rare. It just goes to show what a special player we have here at UCSB."
Formico's accomplishment is rare indeed, she was just one of eight freshmen – and the only freshman libero – in the nation to be honored.
"Even more impressive is the fact that she never played this position in club, so for her to go from never playing libero to being named one of the best liberos in the country – it may be unprecedented," Gregory continued. "Hopefully other players can learn from Taylor's example that a great work ethic can overcome just about any obstacle."
As a team, the Gauchos went 16-17 this year with an even 9-9 record in conference play. Formico's back-row efforts buoyed the Gauchos to a conference best defensive performance at 18.46 team digs per game.