VBM’s 2011 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball All-Americans

Joshua Duplechian
Semifinal Match: UT vs. Penn State; Deja McClendon

First Team

Rachael Adams

School: Texas
Height: 6'2"
Position: MH
Year: Senior
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
A First Team All-Big 12 selection, Adams ranked third on the team with 2.69 kills per set while hitting .388 and leading the squad with 1.18 blocks per set and a total of 129 blocks for the year.

Michelle Bartsch

School: Illinois
Height: 6'3"
Position: OH
Year: Senior
Hometown: Maryville, Ill.
A First-Team All-Big Ten selection, Bartsch racked up 557 kills for the Illini, good for first on the team with an average of 3.90 per set, and also ranked second on the team with 3.26 digs per game. She led the team in kills 22 times, including back to back 20 dig-20 kill performances against Tennessee and Dayton, and in the NCAA title match against UCLA.

Kendall Bateman

School: USC
Height: 5'11"
Position: S
Year: Senior
Hometown: Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Bateman directed the USC offense to a .286 hitting percentage, good for third in the country, with four players averaging more than 2.09 kills per set. She led the Pac-12 in assists and also picked up 243 digs for the year.

Kanai Danielson

School: Hawaii
Height: 5'10"
Position: OH
Year: Senior
Hometown: Ewa Beach, O’ahu, Hawaii
The three-time Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Danielson led the Rainbow Wahine with 475 kills and 359 digs. She had 21 double-doubles in 2011, including 21 kills and a career-high 23 digs against USC in the NCAA Regional semifinal against USC.

Natalie Hagglund

School: USC
Height: 5'9"
Position: OH
Year: Sophmore
Hometown: Encinitas, Calif.
Hagglund led the Women of Troy defense with 596 total digs, good for 5.14 digs per set. She recorded 30 or more digs on four occasions, including 32 in the NCAA win over Pepperdine and 31 in the NCAA National Semifinal loss versus Illinois.

Alex Jupiter

School: USC
Height: 6'3"
Position: OH
Year: Senior
Hometown: Paris, France
The Honolulu Regional Most Outstanding Player, Jupiter led the Women of Troy with 4.47 kills per set and 514 total kills while also picking up 360 digs to rank second on the team. She posted 33 kills in the NCAA win over Hawaii and also added in 55 total digs in the two NCAA Regional matches, additionally collecting 32 kills on .241 hitting with 12 digs in the NCAA Semifinal loss to Illinois.

Rachael Kidder

School: UCLA
Height: 6'3"
Position: OH
Year: Junior
Hometown: Moorpark, Calif.
A First Team All Pac-12 honoree, Kidder led the Bruins with 574 kills and 639.5 points, also adding in 244 digs and 86 blocks. She was also named the Lexington Regional Most Outstanding Player after collecting 41 total kills against Penn State and Texas, and the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player after racking up 41 kills on .245 hitting against Florida State and Illinois to capture the NCAA title.

Deja McClendon

School: Penn State
Height: 6'1"
Position: OH
Year: Sophmore
Hometown: Louisville, Ky.
A two-time First Team All-Big Ten pick, McClendon led the Nittany Lions with 432 kills, ranked second with 245 digs and fourth with 61 total blocks. She posted 20+ kills 24 times, including 25 against both USC and Texas.

Kelly Murphy

School: Florida
Height: 6'2"
Position: S/Opp.
Year: Senior
Hometown: Wilmington, Ill.
An all-around player, Murphy collected 297 kills, 693 assists, 38 service aces, 271 digs and 63 blocks for the Gators in 2011. In her four-year career, she put together 30 triple-double matches and an astounding 76 double-doubles, ranking eighth all-time for the Gators in both kills (1,306) and assists (2,671).

Ariel Turner

Height: 6'1"
Position: OH
Year: Junior
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colo.
The Big Ten Player of the Year, Turner ranked in the top six nationally in both kills per set (4.84) and points per set (5.46), also leading the Big Ten in both categories. She posted double-digit kills in 32 matches, including 20 or more nine times.

Bailey Webster

School: Texas
Height: 6'3"
Position: OH
Year: Sophmore
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
The Big 12 Player of the Year, Webster picked up 307 kills for the year on .340 hitting a year after a season-ending knee injury, with 17 of those career-high-tying kills coming against Kentucky in the NCAA Regional Semifinals.

Carly Wopat

School: Stanford
Height: 6'2"
Position: MH
Year: Sophmore
Wopat led the Pac-12 and ranked second in the country in blocks per set (1.63) and also ranked third in the league with a .383 hitting percentage. An offensive threat as well, Wopat also averaged 3.16 kills and 4.08 points per set, both good for second on the team.
Barbara, Calif.

Second Team

Name School Position Year Height Hometown

Lola Arslanbekova Louisville OH Jr. 5-11 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Tyler Henderson Tulsa OH Jr. 5-10 Oklahoma City, Okla.
Kim Hill Pepperdine MH Sr. 6-4 Portland, Ore.
Carly Jenson Iowa State OH Sr. 5-11 Omaha, Neb.
Stephanie Klefot Kentucky L Jr. 5-6 Louisville, Ky.
Alison Landwehr Iowa State S Jr. 6-0 St. Louis, Mo.
Gina Mancuso Nebraska OH Jr. 6-1 Omaha, Neb.
Kelsey Robinson Tennessee OH So. 6-2 Bartlett, Ill.
Ariel Scott Penn State OH/MH So. 6-4 Ridgewood, N.J.
Jekaterina Stepanova Florida State OH Sr. 6-2 Riga, Latvia
Colleen Ward Illinois OH Sr. 6-2 Naperville, Ill.
Lauren Williams USC MH Sr. 6-4 Houston, Texas

Third Team

Name School Position Year Height Hometown

Laine Carico Miami OH Sr. 5-11 Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Haley Eckerman Texas OH Fr. 6-3 Waterloo, Iowa
Emily Hartong Hawaii MH So. 6-2 Los Alamitos, Calif.
Kristy Jaeckel Florida OH Sr. 6-2 Littleton, Colo.
Kim Maroon Villanova L Sr. 5-8 Virginia Beach, Va.
Tarah Murrey California OH Sr. 6-3 El Cerrito, Calif.
Bre Payton Northern Iowa S Sr. 5-8 Waterloo, Iowa
Kaitlynn Pelger Kansas State MH So. 6-2 Olathe, Kan.
Megan Plourde Colorado State MH Jr. 6-3 Somerset, Wis.
Bianca Rowland Washington MH Sr. 6-0 Lynnwood, Wash.
Katie Slay Penn State MH So. 6-6 Raleigh, N.C.
Ashley Wittman Minnesota OH So. 6-0 Shakopee, Minn.


Player of the year

Alex Jupiter USC
(Honorable Mention: Ariel Turner, Purdue)

From Paris, France, to Los Angeles, Calif., senior outside hitter Alex Jupiter has made an indelible impact on the USC women’s volleyball program. She was the first player in program history to record at least 500 kills in a season three separate times, and she now holds USC career records for kills (1,918), points (2,255.5) and attempts (4,759).

After an amazing career with simply stunning numbers, Jupiter has been named the VBM Player of the Year.

“I am pleased with my career at USC, and I definitely learned different things in different depths every year,” Jupiter said in the press conference following the team’s loss to Illinois in the national semifinals. “When I thought this was as good as I could get in one area, I would turn around and somebody would give me another challenge.”

Head coach Mick Haley said of all the outstanding talent that has come out of the USC athletics program across all sports, Jupiter is definitely a shining star in that group.

“The unique thing about Alex is that she’s gotten better every year,” Haley said. “Her all around game really improved this year to the point where she was totally a complete player. She scored like April Ross with her serve. She hit like Paula Weishoff. She played defense like Paula Dittmer.”

Haley said Jupiter has always wanted to be the best, and worked hard toward that goal.

“I’m really thankful for my entire staff for helping me, teaching me,” Jupiter said. “They’ve given me all the tools possible to really improve what I do.”

Although Jupiter and her squad didn’t make it to the final match, she put up strong numbers throughout the tournament, posting 33 kills in the NCAA win over Hawaii and added in 55 total digs in the two NCAA Regional matches. Additionally, she collected 32 kills on .241 hitting with 12 digs in the NCAA Semifinal loss to Illinois.

“She’s grown immensely as a student athlete and as a person,” Haley said of his 6’3” powerhouse. “I’m pleased with her career at USC, and I hope she’s as pleased with it as I am, because it’s certainly been fun coaching her.”

Coach of the Year

Kevin Hambly Illinois

(Honorable Mentions: Mike Sealy, UCLA; Chris Poole, Florida St.; Dave Shondell, Purdue; Craig Skinner, Kentucky)

In just his third year at the helm of the Fighting Illini, Head Coach Kevin Hambly led his squad to the National Championship match, a feat never before accomplished by a University of Illinois coach. It was an emotional loss to UCLA, giving that team their fourth national title, but observers see nothing but continued growth to come from the Illinois program.

After leading his team to the highest finish in program history, Hambly has been named the VBM Coach of the Year.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this group. I’ve never been around a group of people that were more committed to each other, more committed to the process, more committed to just being, not just great volleyball players, but great people,” Hambly said of his 2011 squad. “It’s truly been a pleasure to work with this group.”

Hambly, who spent his college playing days at BYU and later played overseas in France, was the assistant coach for the USA Olympic Team from 2001-2004, assistant coach at Illinois from 2004-2008, before taking over the head coaching position in 2009.

In his first year as head coach, Illinois went 26-6, finishing in sole possession of second place in the Big Ten and reaching the Sweet 16. His record in the first two seasons as a head coach was 50-15, and the team finished this season 32-5.

This year, Hambly was blessed with a strong team hailing from local roots; over half of his players are from the University’s home state. Hambly said it is both convenient and helpful that the school is in close proximity to strong recruiting bases in Ohio, Indianapolis, and Chicago, among other locations.

“Most kids, especially with the nature of recruiting these days, want to stay closer to home,” he said. “I do think that because we have so many Illinois players that wear ‘Illinois’ across their backs it does mean a little bit more to them.”

Freshman of the Year

Haley Eckerman Texas

(Honorable Mentions: Micha Hancock, Penn State; Jane Croson, Hawaii; Krista Vansant, Washington)

Hailing from Waterloo, Iowa, freshman Haley Eckerman made a splash on the Texas roster this season and brought an additional boost to an already strong squad. After putting up strong and consistent numbers throughout the season, Eckerman has been named the VBM Freshman of the Year.

The 6’3” outside hitter has played a major role in the Longhorn offense, helping to shoulder the load in the front row when a knee injury forced Sha’Dare McNeal to miss the first 13 matches of the season. Eckerman earned all-tournament honors at the Nike Big Four Classic tournament earlier in the season, leading the team in kills in both of their matches.

“Haley has a great demeanor about her and she also has a great arsenal. She’s great out of system but she can hit all the shots and she has all the tools that most freshmen don’t have,” said Texas Head Coach Jerritt Elliott of Eckerman. “Both she and Khat [Bell] have a lot of international experience that they came in here with. Haley has a very live arm and she’s a very, very good athlete.”

Eckerman competed in the 2009 FIVB Girls’ Youth World Championships, and that same year was selected to the U.S. Girls’ Youth National Training Team. She also teamed up with Hannah Allison and Madelyn Hutson on the 2011 U.S. Junior Women’s National Team at the FIVB World Championships to take fourth place.

In tight competition with fellow freshman standouts Micha Hancock (Penn State), Jane Croson (Hawaii) and Krista Vansant (Washington), Eckerman truly excelled this year and we expect to see even more from her to come in the next three years.

Originally published in February 2012