This is the sixth installment in our seven-part series that looks at how PrepVolleyball.com Senior Aces have done over the years, using the rankings for Penn State’s incoming 2018 class as the focal point. PrepVolleyball.com’s annual Senior Ace list ranks the top 100 seniors (according to a poll of numerous college and club coaches) for that year.
Here’s a listing of Penn State’s seven 2018 Senior Aces:
- #31 – Jenna Hampton, 5-7 libero, Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Florida);
- #56 – Amanda Phegley, 6-4 MB, Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Florida); and
- #71 – Allyson Cathey, 6-1 OH, New Albany (Indiana).
For this sixth installment, we’re looking at the #5-ranked Senior Aces from 2007 through 2016 (Serena Gray, the incoming freshman middle blocker for Penn State, was ranked #5 in 2018).
Players Who Were Ranked #5 Senior Ace
2007: Brook Dieter, 6-1 OH, Minnesota
- Brook was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team in 2007, after ranking #2 on the Gophers with 3.75 kills/set and leading the team with 483.5 points.
- As a sophomore (2008), Brook led the team with 3.57 kills/set, was #2 in points with 419, and was an AVCA Second Team selection.
- Brook left the Minnesota team midway through the 2009 season. Minnesota gave her a full release from her scholarship at the end of 2009, but from what we could determine, Brook did not use her final year of eligibility.
2008: Kanani Danielson, 5-10 OH, Hawaii
- In her senior season (2011), Kanani played and started in 32 matches. She was named an AVCA First Team All-American for the third time, earned her fourth first team all-WAC selection, became the first three-time WAC Player of the Year, was selected WAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player, and received the Lowes Senior CLASS award presented at the NCAA Final Four. She ranked fifth all-time in UH history in kills (1,760) and digs (1,233).
- As a junior (2010), Kanani was named to the AVCA All-American First-Team named to the AVCA All-West Region team for the second straight year, was named the WAC Player of the Year, and was also named to all-WAC first team. She started all 32 matches at outside hitter, ranking 10th in the country with 4.64 kills per set.
- In her sophomore year (2009), Kanani earned AVCA First Team All-American recognition, was named the WAC Player of the Year and first team all-WAC and was named the Most Valuable Player of the WAC Tournament. She recorded a game-high 14 kills against eventual National Champion Penn State in the Final Four (Dec. 17, 2009).
- In her freshman season, Kanani started 34 matches as an outside hitter, was named to the AVCA All-America third team and was the WAC Freshman of the Year and a first team all-WAC player.
2009: Sha’Dare McNeal, 6-0 MB/OH, Texas
- In her senior season (2012), Sha’Dare made 30 starts in 32 matches as a member of the Longhorns 2012 national championship squad, registering 219 kills (1.99 kills/set), hit .364 with 79 assists (0.72 assists/set), 18 aces, 265 digs (2.41 digs/set), 93 blocks (0.85 blocks/set) and 289.0 points. She earned 2012 AVCA All-Central Region honors, and was named to 2012 NCAA Volleyball All-Tournament Team and the 2012 All-Big 12 First Team.
- In 2011, Sha’Dare played in 20 matches, totaled 117 kills (1.75 kills/set) hit .425, and recorded 137 digs (2.04 digs/set), 38 blocks (0.57 blocks/set) and 145.5 points.
- In her sophomore season (2010), Sha’Dare started all 33 matches and appeared in all 118 sets. She ranked fourth on the team with a 1.99 kills per set average and ranked seventh in the conference during Big 12 play with a .302 hitting percentage. She finished the season with 235 kills (1.99 kills/set), hitting .300 with 60 assists, 24 aces, 245 digs (2.08 digs/set), 90 blocks (0.76 blocks/set) and 307.5 points.
- As a freshman, Sha’dare appeared in 29 matches (nine starts) and 67 sets. She recorded 66 kills, hit .338, and totaled 41 digs, 40 blocks and 101.5 points.
2010: Alexis Olgard, 6-5 MB/OH, Southern California
- Alexis capped off her senior season (2013) with Pac-12 All-Conference honors, after recording 2.21 kills/set (.442 hitting %), 150 total blocks (1.28 blocks/set) and 350.5 points.
- As a junior, she played in 33 matches and started 32 times as she logged 223 kills (2.06 kills/set) and hit .394 (which led the team and ranked second in the Pac-12). She led USC with 103 blocks, totaled 295.0 points and received Pac-12 All-Conference honorable mention.
- In her sophomore season (2011), Alexis made 12 starts in 19 matches after missing the first 15 matches of the season after undergoing a knee operation in the spring and dealing with a bout of mononucleosis. She finished the season with 94 kills (1.68 kills/set), hit .388, and recorded 47 blocks and 122.5 points.
- As a freshman, Alexis played in every match, making 25 starts and totaling 195 kills (1.73 kills/set) with a .366 hitting %. She totaled 93 blocks and 259.0 points, and was named to the Pac-10 Conference All-Freshman Team.
2011: Haley Eckerman, 6-4 OH, Texas
- Eckerman was a two-time AVCA First-Team All-American (2012, 2013) and an AVCA Second-Team All American in 2011.
- She was the 2013 Volleyball Magazine Player of the Year, was named Big 12 Player of the Year in 2014, 2013 and 2012, and was a three-time All-Big 12 First Team honoree (2011, 2013, 2014).
- In 2012, Haley was the Volleyball Magazine National Co-Player of the Year and COBRA Magazine National Player of the Year, and was named to the 2012 NCAA All-Tournament Team.
- She was selected as the 2011 AVCA and Volleyball Magazine National Freshman of the Year and the 2011 Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
2012: Madison Bugg, 6-0 S, Stanford
- Maddie Bugg ended her career as a three-time Pac-12 Setter of the Year, and a three-time AVCA All-American. Here’s a listing of her year-by-year awards:
- As a Senior (2015): Pac-12 Setter of the Year; AVCA All-America third team; Volleyball Magazine All-America 2nd Team; AVCA All-Pacific North Region; All-Pac-12 Conference
- As a Junior (2014): Pac-12 Setter of the Year; AVCA All-America 1st Team; AVCA All-Pacific North Region; All-Pac-12 Conference
- As a Sophomore (2013): Pac-12 Setter of the Year; AVCA All-America 2nd Team; All-Pac-12 honorable mention
- As a Freshman (2012): All-Pac-12 Freshman Team
2013: Kadie Rolfzen, 6-3 OH, Nebraska
- Kadie enjoyed a highly successful career at Nebraska. Here are some of the accolades she earned along the way:
- AVCA All-America First Team (2015, 2016)
- AVCA All-America Third Team (2013, 2014)
- AVCA All-North Region First Team (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
- All-Big Ten (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
2014: Ashten Smith-Gooden, 6-2 OH, California
- Ashten played sparingly in 2017 as a redshirt junior, seeing action in 20 matches (3 starts) and 44 sets, totaling 78 kills and 6 blocks. She is not listed on Cal’s 2o18 roster.
- As a redshirt sophomore (2016), Ashten was averaging 2.67 kills/set before missing the second half of the season with a knee injury.
- Ashten sat out the 2015 season with an injury.
- As A Freshman (2014), Ashton finished third on the team at 2.22 kills/set.
2015: Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani, 6-4 OH, Texas
- In her junior season (2017), Yaasmeen posted 78 kills (1.81/set) hit .286, and totaled 23 blocks (0.53/set) in 43 sets.
- A highlight performance in her sophomore season (2016) was the National Championship match against Stanford, in which Yaasmeen posted 11 kills on a .455 hitting percentage.
- In her freshman season (2015), Yaasmeen was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and the All-Big 12 Freshman Team.
2016: Molly Haggerty, 6-1 OH, Wisconsin
- After a stellar freshman season in 2016, Molly Haggerty underwent back surgery in January 2017 and did not play in the 2017 season. She is listed on the Badgers 2018 roster.
- Among her honors in 2016 were:
• 2016 AVCA Third-Team All-American
• 2016 AVCA Northeast Region Freshman of the Year
• 2016 AVCA All-Northeast Region
• 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year
• 2016 Big Ten All-Freshman Team
• 2016 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten
- Michigan State vs. Penn State, 12-9-17 in Rec Hall. Photo by Steve Manuel.