What does it mean to be a PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace, and what do the individual rankings mean in terms of future success in college?
We ask, because PrepVolleyball.com, which just released it’s rankings 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).
To answer the first question, 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 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).
As to the second question, we’ll be taking a look at that over the next few weeks, looking at each of Penn State’s 2018 Senior Aces, and seeing how players with their ranking fared during their college careers.
Players Who Weren’t Selected as Senior Aces
Fans love to pore over the rankings of the players in their school’s recruiting classes, but how have unranked players fared during the past several years? We’ve picked one example (there are many others — though not quite as dramatic) that underscores that post-season awards aren’t everything:
Karsta Lowe, 6-4 OH, UCLA
- Karsta Lowe played two years of varsity volleyball at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California.
- Although in her senior year she was named to the San Diego Section All-CIF squad, and the All-Avocado League team (want to guess what they grow in the Carlsbad area?), as well as San Diego Union Tribune Athlete of the Week honors, she was not named a 2011 PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace. Being part of UCLA’s 2011 National Championship squad may have softened that blow.
- By her senior season (2014) Karsta had fully recovered from the “Not A PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace” trauma, earning AVCA First Team All-America honors, leading the Bruins, the Pac-12 and the nation in kills (5.96) and points (6.60) per set, and totaling a team-best 33 aces.
- She followed that in 2016 by making the United States Olympic team, which won the bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics.
It’s an honor to be named a PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace. But excellence takes more. Just ask Karsta Lowe.
Players Who Were Ranked #71 Senior Ace
2007: Kim Kuzma, 5-6 libero, Wisconsin
- Kim was a four-year standout at Wisconsin and a team captain as a senior in 2010. Following her senior season, she ranked third on Wisconsin’s all-time digs list.
- Prior to enrolling at Wisconsin, she was an AVCA High School Senior All-American in 2007, was voted one of PrepVolleyball.com’s top 10 defensive players and was a national player of the year finalist.
- She was the starting libero the U.S. Youth National Team in 2004 and 2005, helping the squad win the 2004 NORCECA Championship and place fourth in the 2005 World Championship.
2008: Dana Powell, 5-10 OH, SMU
Dana was named to the Second team All-Conference USA in 2010 as a senior and named to the All-American Honorable Mention her sophomore and junior years. She was voted team captain by her teammates for both her junior and senior seasons.
2009: Kasey Heckelman, 6-1 MB, Arkansas
- Kasey Heckelman spent two seasons at Louisville before transferring to Arkansas for her junior and senior seasons.
- As a Razorback, Heckelman posted a .318 hitting percentage (which was the fifth-best mark in program history), with career bests of 10 kills, nine total blocks and a .700 hitting percentage.
- After graduation, she signed a professional contract with the Pislaploki club in Pihtipudas, Finland.
2010: Lexi Ross, 6-1 OH, New Mexico
- In high school, Ross was better known in track and field circles (she threw the javelin 152 feet and high jumped 5-6) than in volleyball. But she enjoyed solid careers in both at New Mexico.
- As a senior, she was second on the team in blocking, and hit .350.
- As a junior, she played in all 33 matches, led the team and was seventh in the Mountain West in ace serves, was fourth on the team in kills with 179, and was second on the team in total blocks.
2011: Kori Moster, 5-4 Libero, Michigan State
In her senior year, Kori was named an AVCA Honorable Mention All-America and Honorable Mention All-Big Ten. Her career 2,218 digs were good for 3rd all-time in the Big Ten and first for MSU.
2012: Sydney Wright, 6-1 OH, UC Irvine
Sydney played three seasons in four years for the Anteaters (my slacker staff couldn’t determine whether she played a fourth season), with freshman year being her most productive — 171 kills (fourth on the team), 2.73 points/set, with 50 blocks — followed by her RS Jr. season — 98 kills in 53 sets, with 22 total blocks and 24 digs.
2013: Rebecca Martin, 5-11 S, Georgia Tech
Rebecca had quite a career for Georgia Tech, with her 3,505 career assists ranking fifth all-time at Geor gia Tech, her career 8.65 assists/set ranked seventh all-time at Georgia Tech. As a junior, she finished 7th in the ACC in the regular season in assists per set (8.69).
2014: Taylor Wheatley, 6-1 OH, USC
The 2014 roster entry for Taylor Wheatley states “Taylor Wheatley enters her first season as an outside hitter for the Women of Troy.” Then nothing. There was talk of her transferring, but again, my slacker staff came up empty.
2015: Julia Saunders, 6-3 OH/RS, Wisconsin
After battling injuries for two seasons at Wisconsin — shoulder injuries and a series of concussions — Julia retired from volleyball prior to the 2017 season. has decided to end her career with the University of Wisconsin volleyball. Coach Kelly Sheffield said “She’s been battling for two years and it didn’t look like there was any end in sight. Her mind says one thing and her body says something else. So she decided to listen to her body.”
2016: Kayla Caffey, 6-0 MB, Missouri
After a redshirt season in 2016, Kayla finished the 2017 season with 202 kills in 131 sets (1.54 kills/set), 23 service aces, and 130 total blocks.
- Confetti — Regional Finals, 12-9-17, Michigan State at Penn State, photo by Steve Manuel.