Erica Fava’s volleyball background is intense and the 5-foot-10 outside hitter became the second consecutive Western Nebraska Community College player to earn NJCAA First Team All-American honors after the NJCAA released the All-American lists on Wednesday.
Fava, who played her senior year at Maize South High School in Wichita, Kansas, in 2019-20, had an exceptional year in her first year with the Cougar volleyball program.
Fava was excited when she heard she was a First Team All-American.
“Being First Team All-American is amazing,” she said. “It means that all the hard work paid off and for the better.”
Last April, Karen Cordero was named a First Team All-American for the Cougars. This year Fava joined Cordero as being only the 25th player in Cougar history to earn First Team honors. Fava has a chance to be only the fourth player in WNCC history to earn back-to-back First Team honors. The other three included Patty Azevedo in 2004 and 2005, Soriana Pacheco in 2006 and 2007, and Fernanda Goncalves in 2010 and 2011.
Fava not only made the NJCAA First Team All-American honors, but she was also selected by VolleyballMag.com as a member of the Division I All-American First Team. That team just honors 12 players.
As for the NJCAA honor, Fava is one of 12 players on the first team, joining Region IX player Makenzie Templeton from Central Wyoming College on the team. There were also 12 players selected for the second team and other six for honorable mention.
Fava said her season was alright, but it could have been better.
“Personally, this season was pretty good. I had a lot of kills and I improved a lot,” she said. “But I’m not satisfied. I want to get better and keep working to get where I want to be.”
Fava had an outstanding all-around season on the court. Fava finished the year with 549 kills, 512 digs, 67 aces, and 290 service points. She averaged 3.81 kills per set.
Fava said what she did on the court shows that she is just not an outside hitter.
“Having over 500 kills and 500 digs in a season shows that I’m not just an outside hitter, but I can play back row too,” she said. “And it helps me a lot since I’m not very tall.”
It shouldn’t be no surprise of Fava’s volleyball skills since she has been playing volleyball since she was 6-years-old.
In 2019, Fava was an exchange student at Maize South High School in Wichita, Kansas. She said she had to leave Maize in April to go back home to Italy because of the Coronavirus pandemic that practically shut all of the high school sports down.
At Maize South, Fava was named to the AVCA Region I all-region team in helping her team the Kansas state tournament. Her numbers at Maize South were quite impressive. She finished with 387 kills and 279 digs along with 78 ace serves and 24 blocks. She had a hitting percentage of .333. She averaged 4.0 kills per sent and 6.5 digs per set.
After she left Maize South to go back home to Italy because of the pandemic, Fava said that she really didn’t think about playing in college. But, while in Italy, she started to get offers and that was when she decided to pursue playing collegiately.
“Playing volleyball in college wasn’t really my plan, but I started getting a lot of offers so I started considering coming back to the United States to play college volleyball,” she said. “Once I got back to Italy, I received coach Binny’s [Canales] email and I decided to come here.”
Next year she has even bigger goals and one is just get even better and also win a Region IX title.
“I’ve improved a lot but it’s not enough, I still have to work a lot,” she said. “My goal for next year is to win the region IX tournament and then carry my team to nationals.”
So far, though, her first year of college has been a learning experience.
“What I’ve learned from college volleyball this year is that it’s challenging,” she said. “As a player, you have to be mentally and physically strong.”
She was that. The one highlight from this past year that sticks out was the home match against Iowa Western Community College. Even though WNCC lost in five sets, it was one of the most exciting matches for the players and the spectators. Iowa Western went on to win the national tournament in November, which was the second national title for the volleyball in 2021 after winning the title in April.
Iowa Western had two NJCAA All-Americans in Yadhira Anchante on the first team and Dayan Malave on the second team. Anchante was also named the Player of the Year for VolleyballMag.com’s all-American list.
“A highlight from this year is when we played Iowa western at Cougar Palace,” Fava said. “That was probably the best game we’ve ever had. The atmosphere in the gym was incredible. We played as a team and the energy was amazing.”
Other NJCAA First Team All-American recipients included Marian Ovalle and Mio Yamamoto of the New Mexico Military Institute; Mylena Testoni of Barton; Marla Petkova and Deborah Ribeiro of Florida SouthWestern State; Romina Cornelio of Miami Dade; Jayde Shelton of Blinn; Ruth Manuela Bibinbe of Missouri State-West Plains; and Kayli Duncan of Butler.
Second team honors went to Anny Montano Hurtado of Arizona Western; Brianna Worth of North Central Texas; Laura Paniagua of Monroe College; Hikialani Kaoheiaulii of Salt Lake; Savannah Rutledge of Wallace State-Hanceville; Kierslynn Wright of Yavapai; Kyla Beel of Jefferson; Doga Kutlu of Missouri State-West Plains; Emma Ricks of Utah State-Eastern; and Kristine Teivane of New Mexico JC.
The honorable mention members of the team include Gloria Guerin of Ranger; Reagan Casey of Blinn; Jaryn Benning of Butler; Svea Frobel of Daytona State; Precious Daley of Indian Hills; and Claudia Lupescu of Tyler.