This is the second 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. We’re interested because PrepVolleyball.com, which just released it’s ranking of the 2018 recruiting classes, ranked Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class #1 in the country. (PrepVolleyball.com is a pay site, but well worth it, in our opinion).
In our first installment — https://www.dignittanyvolleyball.com/what-penn-state-might-be-getting-with-its-2018-senior-aces-71-allyson-cathey/ — we looked at how unranked Karsta Lowe managed to squeak by with a pretty-OK, not bad, nicely done career despite not being ranked at all, and followed with a look at the #71 Senior Aces (Allyson Cathey, incoming OH for Penn State, is the #71 2018 Senior Ace) from 2007 through 2016.
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. Penn State’s Head Coach Russ Rose and his staff certainly did a fantastic job with the 2018, with seven of its eight class members named as Senior Aces. Penn State’s 2014 recruiting class was also ranked #1 and also featured seven PrepVolleyball.com Senior Aces — if you include Skylar Dykstra, 5-9 DS/L, who transferred in following a redshirt year at UCLA, then left the Penn State team after one season.
Here’s a listing of Penn State’s seven 2018 Senior Aces:
- #3 — Kaitlyn Hord, 6-5 MB, Henry Clay HS, (Lexington, Kentucky);
- #5 — Serena Gray, 6-2 MB (Temple City, California);
- #14 – Jonni Parker, 6-0 S/OH, Miami East HS (Casstown, Ohio);
- #28 – Gabby Blossom, 5-10 S, St. Joseph’s Academy (St. Louis, Missouri);
- #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 second installment, we’re looking at the #56-ranked Senior Aces from 2007 through 2016 (Amanda Phegley, the incoming 6-4 MB for Penn State, was ranked #56 in 2018):
Players Who Were Ranked #56 Senior Ace
2007: Larissa Nordyke, 5-10 OH, California -Irvine
Larrissa was a four-year letterwinner at UC Irvine in the Big West at outside hitter. Beyond that, slacker staff couldn’t find any info on statistics. Surprise, right?
2008: Alex Hunt, 6-1 RS/S, Michigan
- In her junior season, Alex was named AVCA All-America third team and All Big Ten. She earned All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2009 and 2011, and was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team in 2008.
- She set a Michigan single-match record with nine service aces vs. Marquette (Sept. 18, 2009) and ended her career ranked #2 at Michigan in kills (1,618), #2 in attempts (4,202) and #4 in service aces (152).
2009: Rachel Davis, 5-11 S, Purdue
- Rachel Davis enjoyed a stellar career with the Boilermakers, ranking 8th in career assists with 3,294.
- In her junior year, she was named the AVCA National Player of the Week on 11/15 and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on 11/14.
- In her sophomore season, she recorded a season-best 35 assists against No. 6 Texas in the Elite Eight, with a season-best six digs and two blocks.
2010: Mary Cushman, 6-0 OH, Maryland
- As a senior (2013), Mary appeared in 119-of-121 sets and led team with 390 total kills (3.28/set) and 11 double-doubles and was second on team with 314 digs (2.64/set).
- As a junior, Mary finished third on the team in kills despite missing eight matches due to injury, totaling 240 kills in 24 matches (3.04 kills/set) in conference action — second-highest total on the squad, along with 2.09 digs/set.
- As a sophomore (2011) Mary once again led the Terps with 355 kills (3.01 kills/set).
- As a freshman (2010), She led Maryland in kills with 343.
2011: Sarah Wickstrom, 6-0 S/RS, Florida State
- Sarah finished her senior year (2014) tied for sixth place on the FSU All-Time assists list with 2,915. She recorded seven double-doubles on the season, a career high of 19 digs against BYU in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament, and 30 or more assists in five matches in 2014.
- She served as a team captain during her junior year, totaled 34 assists in the stunning upset over No. 6 Florida in the NCAA Tournament, and was invited to the U.S. Collegiate National Team Program in the summer of 2014.
2012: Victoria McPherson, 6-0 MB, North Carolina
- Victoria was a three-time All-ACC selection and two-time AVCA All-America Honorable Mention.
- She appeared in a total of 111 match (350 sets) over her career, recording 710 kills, 431 blocks (3rd best all-time at UNC) and a .304 hitting percentage (5th best all-time at UNC).
- Victoria broke UNC’s single-season record for blocks per set as a junior (1.48) and her .360 senior season hitting % ranked fourth all-time.
- She tied the single-match record for hitting percentage on Nov. 25, 2015, at Wake Forest, going 11-for-13 (.846).
2013: Phoebe Grunt, 6-4 MB, UCSB
- Phoebe played in 25 matches as a senior, averaging 1.95 kills/set, .87 blocks/set, and hitting .358.
- As a junior, Phoebe was one of three UCSB players to compete in all 99 sets and 27 matches. She earned her second career Honorable Mention All-Big West honor, ranking third in the league with a .335 hitting percentage, and averaged nearly one block per set with 98 blocks, third in the conference, including a team-high 15 solo blocks.
- In her sophomore season, Phoebe led all UCSB middle blockers with 93 kills (1.19 per set) and eight solo blocks, and ranked second on the team with 65 total blocks.
- She began her career with an outstanding season, appearing in all 29 matches, totaling 110 kills, 1.08 kills/set, 11 solo block, 120 block assists (tied for 1st in the Big West) and 131 total blocks (3rd in the Big West). Her 1.28 blocks/set led the Big West.
2014: Olivia Boender, 6-2 OH, Nebraska
Olivia Boender retired from volleyball during the 2017 season because of ongoing health issues. During her Nebraska career, Olivia played in 26 matches, registering a career-high 16 kills on .727 hitting in a win over Montana State and was a key part of the Huskers’ five-set comeback win at Michigan State in 2016, recording eight kills off the bench.
2015: Kirstie Hillyer, 6-6 MB, Colorado State
- After redshirting for her true-freshman season in 2015, Kirstie has a spectacular season in 2016, leading CSU in blocking with 1.59 blocks/set — which led the Mountain West Conference and ranked fourth nationally (first among all freshmen). She also led the Rams with 3.57 points per set and totaled 10 or more blocks four times.
- In her RS sophomore season in 2017, Kirstie again led the Rams in blocking with 1.46 blocks/set (#17 in the nation in blocks) and finished second on the team with a .383 average hitting %, good for #33 in the country.
2016: Natalie Haben, 5-9 Libero, Purdue
- As a true freshman, Natalie played in 32 matches, starting 28 at libero and three at defensive specialist. She led the Boilermakers with 3.14 digs per set and with 29 aces.
- Unfortunately, Natalie suffered a leg injury, and appears to have medically retired — meaning she receives her scholarship, but it does not count against the total for the team.
- Confetti, Regional Finals, 12-9-17 – Michigan State at Penn State, Photo by Steve Manuel.