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Kovar, Nerison Named 2004-05 Athletes of the Year

Matt Kovar and volleyball's Kelli Nerison took home the 2004-05 Athlete of the Year honors.
Matt Kovar and volleyball's Kelli Nerison took home the 2004-05 Athlete of the Year honors.

Sept. 1, 2005

Los Angeles, Calif. - Loyola Marymount University has named Matt Kovar (men's soccer) and Kelli Nerison (volleyball) its 2004-05 Athletes of the Year, Athletic Director Bill Husak announced Wednesday evening at the annual LMU Athletics Welcome Back BBQ. Kovar and Nerison led their respective teams to a combined six NCAA postseason appearances, while also earning a total of three All-America selections.

Kovar, the WCC's Defender of the Year, was LMU's top defender in 2004. The first-team All-WCC selection helped the Lions limit opponents to no more than two goals during WCC play. He had two goals and five assists, and four of his assists were in conference play. His second goal of the year tied the game in the final minutes against Saint Mary's, and he assisted on two game winning goals against Portland and San Diego. He tied for fifth for assists in conference games, and recorded 24 shots on the year.

He was named the WCC Player of the Week, and to Soccer America's Team of the Week after leading the defense to two shutouts wins over Gonzaga and Portland. The Lions finished the 2004 season with a 11-8-3 record, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Lions finished second in the conference with an 8-3-1 record.

After the 2004 season, Kovar was named a third-team All-American by the NSCAA. Kovar was named a first-team Far West Region All-American, and became the third Lion to be honored nationally by the NSCAA. He joined Andres Murriagui and Torres as LMU's NSCAA All-Americans.

Kovar had an outstanding career at LMU. After the 2001 season, he was named the WCC's Freshman of the Year. He followed that up by earning NSCAA All-Far West third team honors in 2002, as well as All-WCC second team honors as a sophomore. He was named to the All-WCC first team in 2003. This season, he was named the LMU MVP and co-Defensive MVP at the team banquet. He led the Lions to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Kovar finished his four years in second place on the career assists list with 18.

Nerison concluded her four-year career at LMU with her selection as one of the nation's top five blockers by Collegiate Volleyball Update. She graduated with a degree in business administration in May after being honored in the fall with her second straight All-America selection.

Making it two in a row, Nerison was recognized with the American Volleyball Coaches Association's All-American honorable mention selection in 2004. This meant back-to-back first-team All-WCC and AVCA All-Region selections along with the two honorable mention All-American nods for the senior.

Last year, Nerison became just the third volleyball Lion to receive the AVCA All-American distinction. She is now just the second Lion to receive it in multiple seasons. Nerison is the eighth all-time Lion to receive the AVCA All-Region honor and the fourth to earn it in multiple seasons. Ranking in the top ten in the nation all season, Nerison finished the 2004 season ranked sixth in blocks, with 1.71 blocks per game.

The Lions' middle blocker was selected to the 2004 All-West Coast Conference first-team after leading the conference in both hitting percentage (.360) and blocks per game (1.88) in WCC play. She also finished the conference season ranking sixth in service aces (0.27) per game and 11th in kills (3.17).

After making just seven appearances as a sophomore, the Laguna Niguel, Calif., native leaped into the LMU all-time record books thanks to her junior and senior seasons. Though she had yet to record a single collegiate solo block prior to her junior season, Nerison set new all-time program records for career block average (1.47), single season solo blocks (48), single season block assists (136), single season total blocks (178), single season block average (1.71), and career attack percentage (.356). She also ranks second in career block assists (262), third in career total blocks (352), and fourth in career solo blocks (90). The two-time WCC Player of the Week during 2004, Nerison led the way as the Lions (17-12, 8-6 WCC) made their second straight NCAA postseason appearance. The senior played her best against some of the nation's best teams, as she hit a career-high 24 kills at then-No.13 UC Santa Barbara and posted 12 blocks at then-No.19 Santa Clara. Nerison also earned the title of LMU/Enterprise Rent-a-Car Student-Athlete of the Month for her play during October.

In December, Nerison also earned her second straight WCC All-Academic selection for her accomplishments on the court and in the classroom, where she has a 3.35 cumulative grade point average as a business administration major.

LMU Athletics selects a male and female Athlete of the Year annually, with a committee of head coaches making the selections.

The two Athletes of the Year both went on to begin professional careers in their sports, as Kovar was drafted by the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer and Nerison plays for the Aguere Volleyball Club in Spain.

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