Cristine (Waterhouse) Kosnik was such an outstanding student and athlete that she was named 1995 NCAA Woman of the Year for all divisions in Washington, D.C. She graduated with a 3.8 grade-point average in biomedical engineering.
Her coach, Nagy Abdelrazek, who still leads the Catholic University volleyball team, was in just his second season her senior year.
“She was so disciplined and so determined to achieve her goals,” Abdelrazek said. “She managed her time well and gave 100 percent in everything she did. She proved to everyone she could be an ‘A’ student and also a very good athlete.”
Abdelrazek is excited that Kosnik is being recognized as one of the finest athletes in school history.
“It’s such a great honor to be a member of the Catholic University Hall of Fame,” he said. “For me, it’s very special because she is my first Hall of Famer.”
Kosnik’s play in 1994 led the Cardinals to their first Capital Athletic Conference championship and helped Abdelrazek become CAC Coach of the Year.
Despite not being very tall (5-foot-8) for a middle hitter, Kosnik finished ninth in the nation in kills per game (4.46). She demonstrated her uncanny versatility by also leading the nation in digs per game (6.18).
“Playing middle hitter and being No. 1 in digs, that was amazing,” Abdelrazek said. “These days, the middle hitter won’t even consider playing the back row to dig or receive any balls. Cris was our best hitter at the net and led the country in digs.
“This is something I say will never happen again – never.”
Kosnik had already been named a first-team (1991) and second-team (1992) All-CAC selection when Abdelrazek arrived on campus two weeks before the start of the 1993 season. What he found was a program with only three returning starters. Things were so bleak that he had to recruit walk-ons from campus just to have enough players.
The biggest positive Abdelrazek found was Kosnik, who was not only a great player but an inspiration.
“Her skills were up there – wonderful hands, really quick arm speed – but her heart on the court, her motivation and her personality were huge,” he said. “With her love for the sport, I felt like we had something in common.”
Abdelrazek, a native of Egypt, would often run practices that featured him and Kosnik on one side and five to six players on the other. Kosnik was so talented that despite all the forces working against the Cardinals, they won their first 11 games and finished 32-13.
Had things not gone well, Abdelrazek would likely not have been around to lead CUA to a school-best 38-3 record in 2001 and its first of two straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
“Players like Cris helped me a lot to continue coaching here because she had the spirit and the heart,” said Abdelrazek, who earned his 500th career victory in 2015. “Without her we would not have been able to do much. If my first season went bad, that probably would have been my first and last here.”
Capturing the Crown
Bolstered by outside hitter Kristin Bufka and setter Kathleen McNeilly, the Cardinals were much better prepared to start the 1994 season.
“With Cris and the rest of the team, especially a new setter, it was really an exciting year for us,” Abdelrazek said.
CUA improved to 36-7 and won the CAC championship by downing two teams on their home court. The Cards dropped the first semifinal game at Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., before rallying to win the match, 3-2. Next it was on to York (Pa.) College to challenge the top-seeded and heavily favored Spartans.
“The gym was packed,” Abdelrazek said, “and they were supposed to win. Getting to the final was probably the most we could dream of back then.”
York showed why it won the CAC regular-season title by smashing the Cardinals in game one, 15-6. Instead of rolling over, CUA picked itself up and won the next three games, 15-10, 15-8 and 15-8. Less than two years after taking over a rag-tag bunch, the Cards were conference champions.
“After we dropped the first game, I felt like we really had a chance and could do better,” Abdelrazek said. “And sure enough, once we got the momentum on our side and started playing our game, it was the most amazing win I ever had.
“To win at York, the favorite to win the conference – and York back then had very, very good players – to be able to win it was an amazing time for us.”
Kosnik played a key role in the championship.
“Her performance was incredible,” Abdelrazek said, “and she was playing the middle position and we were doing a single block back then. For her to start from the middle of the net and try to catch on the right side and the left side, it was amazing.
“I mean, you can’t do that anymore.”
One of the Top Players in CAC History
Kosnik, a three-time first-team All-CAC honoree from Melbourne, Fla., had one of the best seasons in league history in 1994. She set the CAC season record for aces per game (1.17) and total attacks (1,807). She also established the conference standard for most attacks in a match when she recorded 90 against Goucher on Oct. 5.
Kosnik’s performances are still remembered in CAC circles despite the school having left the league in 2007 for the Landmark Conference. In 2014, she and Bridget Guetle were named to the CAC Silver Anniversary Volleyball Team. They are the only two Cardinals Abdelrazek has coached to have their numbers retired.
Kosnik, who also played three years on the women’s basketball team, received the highest honor for a CUA female student-athlete when she was presented the 1995 Donley Cup.
“She had a great impact on the volleyball program and on me,” Abdelrazek said.
By Chris McManes (August 2015)