USA sitting volleyball’s Heather Erickson, Chinese volleyball player Zhu Ting and German beach volleyball duo Kira Walkenhorst and Laura Ludwig were nominated for the Women’s Sports Federation’s Sportswoman of the Year award for 2016, but the award ultimately went to water polo player Ashleigh Johnson.
The WSF honors two women each year with the Sportswoman of the Year award – one from an individual sport and one from a team sport. All four volleyball players were up for the team sport award, according to the IOC’s listing of nominees.
Erickson was a captain of the U.S. Sitting Volleyball team in Rio, leading the team to a breakthrough tournament run that ended in America’s first-ever Paralympic gold medal in the sport. She was the tournament MVP and was also named “Best Receiver,” putting up 65 points throughout the tournament.
Zhu helped China win the Rio Olympic gold in indoor volleyball, beating hometown favorites Brazil for gold. She put up 179 kills at an absurd 42.27% spike efficiency rating.
Walkenhorst and Ludwig won the beach volleyball gold medal match in Rio, breaking a three-year streak from the Americans. The German pair crushed host Brazil in straight sets to take home gold. It was not only Germany’s first Olympic gold in the sport, it was the nation’s first-ever beach volleyball medal on the women’s side.
The awards were announced on Wednesday, October 19, with water polo goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson winning the team sport award. Boxer Claressa Shields took the individual sport honor.