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College: Power-5 Freshmen of the Year Watch List

Brynna DeLuzio has definitely made her mark as a rookie setter for Colorado.

(Courtesy of CU Athletics)

Last week, we broke down our favorites for conference Players of the Year from the Power 5s.

In this week’s Rookie Report, we do the same, only for Freshman of the Year candidates instead.

Big Ten

Leading candidate

Dana Rettke, Wisconsin, MB: No doubt others must be clicking for middles to get theirs, but for Rettke to be leading Wisconsin in kills as a rookie is beyond remarkable. She kicked off the week with a team-high 276, averaging 3.33 per set. Her .413 hitting percentage is the third-highest in conference matches. She also leads the Badgers in blocks for the season and has the fourth-highest average per set at 1.27 during Big Ten contests. There’s still time left, because as great of a year as Rettke is having, she’s not a runaway leader at this point. Minnesota’s Stephanie Samedy is in the conversation and can still overtake Rettke during the final weeks.  

Top 4 Challengers

— Stephanie Samedy, Minnesota, RS

— Sydney Hilley, Wisconsin, S

— Regan Pittman, Minnesota, MB

— Lauren Stivrins, Nebraska, MB



Leading candidate

— Brynna DeLuzio, Colorado, S: At this point, DeLuzio is the frontrunner, at least here, and it might not be close when the final votes are cast by the coaches. Colorado started the week tied for third place with Washington and Utah at 9-5. The Buffs, after missing the NCAA tourney the past two seasons, are on track to make the field of 64 this fall. And DeLuzio has been at the center of it all as a rookie setter, dishing out 1,062 assists (11.06 per set) and leading the team with 24 aces. She’s also third in digs with 220 (2.29 per set). Given Colorado’s climb this season and DeLuzio’s production, she’s our clear pick as of now.

Top 4 Challengers

— Mac May, UCLA, RS

— Kylee McLaughlin, Oregon State, S

— Jen Mosser, UCLA, OH

— Lauren Sanders, Washington, MB



Leading candidate

Madison Lilley, Kentucky, S: The race in the SEC boils down to the success Kentucky is having as a team this fall. With Lilley taking the offensive reins, the Wildcats have been one of the best teams in the nation in 2017. Take her out of the equation and it’s a difficult point to argue that Kentucky would be in the same position. At the same time, on an individual level, there are other rookies having amazing impacts on their respective programs. If their overall team success could rival Kentucky’s there might be a real race. At this point though, Lilley is a heavy favorite.

Top 4 Challengers

— Taylor Bannister, LSU, OH

— T’ara Ceasar, Georgia, OH

— Leketor Member-Meneh, Missouri, OH

— Rachel Ritchie, Georgia, OH



Leading candidate

— Holly Carlton, North Carolina, S/RS: The chase for Freshman of the Year in ACC is an intriguing one. That’s because the most impactful rookies aren’t don’t play for the conference leaders. Yes, we list a pair of Pitt players below, but neither would make are top three based on overall contributions. The leading three, with Taryn Knuth and Payton Schwantz, joining Carlton, have played large roles for their respective programs and it’s really neck-and-neck at this point. Carlton is the leading candidate because of she sets, hits, digs and blocks, bringing a lot to the table for the Tar Heels.

Top 4 Challengers

— Payton Schwantz, Duke, OH

— Taryn Knuth, Florida State, MB

— Kayla Lund, Pitt, OH

— Chinaza Ndee, Pitt, RS/MB


Big 12

Leading candidate

Yossiana Pressley, Baylor, OH: Talk about a close call, it’s going to come down to the wire in the Big 12. Currently, we have Pressley in the lead spot, ahead of TexasLexi Sun. Though the Longhorns are undefeated, they were the pre-season No. 1 team in the nation. Success was expected. At week’s start, Baylor was a half-game up on Kansas for second place in the conference. Furthermore, there is no doubt the Bears are being powered along by Pressley, who is averaging 3.97 kills in conference matches. That only trails senior teammate Katie Staiger. But, Pressley actually leads the Big 12 in points per set at 4.51 in conference matches. That’s why we have her ahead of Sun as of now.  

Top 4 Challengers

— Lexi Sun, Texas, OH

— Ashley Shook, Texas, S

— Hannah Lockin, Baylor, S

— Allye Beth Deaton, TCU, OH



  1. mrbilly55

    November 7, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    I like your list. I would have debated hard between Goings and Mclaughlin at OSU; not sure who I would put on top, they are both such pleasant surprises. Not much question the Beavers should be in the tournament come Nov. end. Their only losses since the start of Oct have been to Stanford (twice) and to a very hot Colorado team.

  2. bllewis2010

    November 8, 2017 at 7:15 am

    I just hope Carlton can get it since she is a reshirt and not technically a freshmen….not sure how the ACC handles that.

  3. Anonymous

    November 10, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    Carlton isn’t a true freshman. Has she been awarded ACC FOW at all? If she hasn’t, then I would assume she can’t be POY either.

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