Penn State Volleyball

Penn State women’s volleyball lands 3 on All-America list

Penn State volleyball players celebrate outside hitter Simone Lee’s point during the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Pitt on Saturday.
Penn State volleyball players celebrate outside hitter Simone Lee’s point during the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Pitt on Saturday. psheehan@centredaily.com

A trio of Nittany Lions collected All-America honors Wednesday.

Penn State’s Haleigh Washington and Simone Lee each picked up first-team awards from the American Volleyball Coaches Association, while Kendall White was named to the second team.

The honors lead the top-seeded Nittany Lions into the NCAA semifinals Thursday, battling Big Ten rival Nebraska at 7 p.m. at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

The awards give Penn State 94 All-Americans since 1979, and the team has put at least three women on the the first-, second- or third-team lists in 11 of the past 12 seasons.

White’s addition on the list is a milestone for the program. She is just the second Nittany Lion libero to ever appear on an All-America list and the first to make one of the three teams. Kaleena Walters (Davidson) was an honorable mention in 2005.

White, a sophomore, leads the team with 428 total digs and an average of 3.72 digs per set, and also is passing at a 97 percent success rate on service receptions. Also, her 22 service aces are tied for third on the team. Stanford’s Morgan Hentz, on the first team, was the only other libero on any of the three All-America teams.

Washington earned her third All-America honor, all of them on the first team. The Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 3.06 kills per set and leads the nation with her .503 hitting percentage. She also averages 1.52 blocks per set, which is seventh in Division I, while adding 21 aces. Washington is hitting .461 for her career, ranking third all-time in Division I. She also was named the Senior CLASS Award winner Wednesday and picked up her third CoSIDA Academic All-America honor on Monday.

Lee, the Big Ten’s Player of the Year, picked up her second All-America honor, also making the first team last season. She paces the Nittany Lions with her 3.90 kills per set, hitting .321, and adds 0.58 blocks per set and 22 aces.

Both Lee and Washington surpassed 1,000 kills for their careers, and Washington also became just the seventh Lion in program history to reach 1,000 kills and 500 blocks.

Nittany Lions Abby Detering, Ali Frantti and Heidi Thelen were named honorable mention All-Americans.

Among the other final four teams, defending champion Stanford has three first-team honorees to lead all schools, while Florida and Nebraska have one each. Wisconsin’s Dana Rettke was named the AVCA’s Freshman of the Year, and also made the first-team list.

Penn State, Nebraska and Stanford led the nation with six players on the All-America list, honorable mentions included.

The AVCA will announce its player and coach of the year awards later this week.

Gordon Brunskill: 814-231-4608, @GordonCDT

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