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Thursday, January 19, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Top national volleyball honor goes to Courtney Thompson

Special to The Seattle Times

Courtney Thompson, a two-time first-team All-American setter for Washington's national champion volleyball team, was named the winner of the Honda Award as the nation's top female player Wednesday.

Thompson, a 5-foot-8 junior from Kent, is the first Husky to receive the award, the result of balloting by athletic administrators from more than 1,000 Division I, II and III NCAA member schools.

"It's the most prestigious award that a female student-athlete can receive, similar to the Heisman Trophy," said senior associate athletic director Marie Tuite, who votes on Washington's behalf.

"She exemplifies what the student-athlete should be," Tuite said. "And she's so engaging, you can't help but smile when you're around her. This university is blessed to have her as part of its student body."

Thompson, a second-team Academic All-American (and a fall-quarter Dean's List honoree with a 3.87 grade-point average), is now eligible to be named the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year, to be selected this spring from among all Honda Award winners in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports.

"It's a huge award — the top woman in college volleyball," said UW coach Jim McLaughlin. "It's appropriate. Courtney has worked so hard. Her attention to detail, the way she goes about things — it's just a great reward for her."

As a setter, Thompson runs the Huskies offense. Her ability to deliver pinpoint sets helped UW (32-1 in 2005) lead the nation in hitting percentage (.338) and defeat top-ranked Nebraska 3-0 in the national-title match Dec. 17 in San Antonio. It was the Huskies' first national volleyball championship.

Thompson led the nation in assists, averaging 14.89 per game. She already owns the UW career record for assists (4,841) and is fifth on the Pac-10 all-time list.

Thompson shared credit for the award with her teammates.

"Well, it's always nice," she said, "but I think any time one of us wins an award of this magnitude, every person on our team has a piece of it."

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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