Nebraska volleyball assistant coach Kayla Banwarth received the AVCA Thirty Under 30 Award on Wednesday, the American Volleyball Coaches Association announced. The award was created to honor 30 up-and-coming coaches under 30 years old at all levels of the sport.
Banwarth was one of 11 NCAA Division I women’s coaches selected this year. Nebraska’s other assistant coach, Jaylen Reyes, was honored with the award last year following his time as an assistant coach with the BYU men’s team.
Banwarth oversees the Husker liberos and passers while leading NU’s recruiting efforts. In 2018, the Huskers reached the NCAA Championship match once again, and libero Kenzie Maloney was an NCAA Championship All-Tournament selection. Nebraska’s defense was one of the best in the nation, in large part thanks to the Huskers’ back-row passers. Nebraska finished the season with a .144 opponent hitting percentage, which ranked third in the nation, first in the Big Ten, and was the Huskers’ best mark since 2005. Maloney was an AVCA third-team All-American and an All-Big Ten selection.
In her first season as a Husker assistant, Nebraska won the 2017 NCAA Championship and repeated as Big Ten champions with a 32-4 overall record and 19-1 mark in conference play. Under her guidance, Kelly Hunter was named the NCAA Championship co-most outstanding player, an AVCA first-team All-American and the Big Ten Setter of the Year. She was also the PrepVolleyball.com Player of the Year, while Maloney was a PrepVolleyball.com first-team All-American and an NCAA Championship All-Tournament selection.
Banwarth, a native of Dubuque, Iowa, completed an illustrious playing career for the Huskers in 2010 before embarking on a professional playing career that saw her win an Olympic bronze medal with the U.S. National Team, as well as an FIVB World Championship. Banwarth finished her professional career with the U.S. National Team at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. A U.S. National Team libero since 2011, Banwarth spent two years as a volunteer assistant coach for the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team prior to joining the Huskers.