By Eric Page
In the first of a series of features on former NCAA athletes, we catch up with the Divisions I, II and III volleyball national players of the year from 1996, as selected by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
In 1996, Ljungquist became only the sixth student-athlete ever to be named to the AVCA All-America team four straight years. She led Hawaii to the NCAA national championship match that season, where the Rainbow Wahine lost to Stanford. Ljungquist, a native of Sweden, left Hawaii as the school’s all-time leader in block assists and career hitting percentage. She also was a second-team Academic All-American as a senior.
Ljungquist still is playing professionally overseas, the past three years in the World Tour of beach volleyball. Before that, she played indoors in Brazil, Turkey, Italy, France and Japan. She is considering making one last attempt at the Olympics in 2012.
In her words
“Playing in Hawaii was the best thing that I have ever done. It was amazing playing in front of 10,000 fans at home. It is hard to express the gratitude I feel for the four years I got to play for the Rainbow Wahine. For me, as a foreigner, my college years were great. I got to study abroad and get an education, becoming fluent in English. And at the same time, I got to do what I love – playing volleyball. It gave me friends for life, and that is priceless.”
Liu, a native of China, was a three -time AVCA All-American and two-time national player of the year. She was a three-year starter and led the Wildcats to the NCAA championship match all three seasons, including 1994, when Northern Michigan claimed the Division II crown. Liu’s honor in 1996 capped a five-year stretch in which a Northern Michigan setter was named national player of the year four times. Stacey Metro won the award in 1992 and ’93.
Liu graduated from Northern Michigan in 1997 and later earned an MBA from Eastern Michigan. She stuck around the game for several years, serving as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan from 1999 to 2005 before deciding to stay home with her two children, Leopold, 7, and Amelia, 5. She and her husband, Raymond, now live outside of Detroit, where Liu works as an internal auditor for a local government agency. She still plays in one volleyball tournament a year.
In her words
“Being a student-athlete definitely helped me. I was from China. I had a language barrier. I had to adjust to the American culture. My teammates helped me a great deal. And also as a student, I had to learn time management and how to deal with pressure, and that has really carried over into the workplace.”
A native of Palatine, Illinois, Boos led Wisconsin-Oshkosh to a 153-31 record and four consecutive NCAA tournament berths in her career. She was a second-team All-American as a sophomore, when the Titans were the national runner-up, and earned back-to-back first-team honors while helping Wisconsin-Oshkosh to an 82-10 record over her final two seasons, including another trip to the NCAA finals in 1996. She still ranks fifth in NCAA Division III history with 182 career matches played.
Boos graduated from Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a degree in human services in 1997 and worked as a research compliance administrator at several universities throughout the Midwest while her husband, Dave, whom she married in 2004, pursued a career as a volleyball coach. The couple recently relocated to Gainesville, Florida, where Dave is an assistant at the University of Florida. Amy continued to play in adult volleyball leagues for several years and is always around the game. She stays in close contact with her former teammates, getting together for reunions on a regular basis.
In her words
“I really had a great group of women that I played with. I was part of a team. I was working with others. We had to be dedicated, and we learned time management. We had to be able to do our school work as well as be on the road. That has definitely helped me in the professional world.”
Eric Page is assistant director of web communications at Augustana College (Illinois).