Santa Clara sophomore middle blocker Dana Knudsen, a 6-3 native of Elk Grove, Calif., was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week on Monday. She hit a combined .527 last weekend as the Broncos posted a 2-1 record at the Santa Clara Invitational.
Knudsen hit an impressive .600 (11-2-15) in the tournament-opening win against Portland State; and really shined in the final match against Cal State Bakersfield where she hit .688 with 11 kills on 16 swings with no errors. For the weekend, she had 35 kills and just six hitting errors to go along with 10 blocks.
Knudsen is the second Bronco to receive WCC Player of the Week honor this season as sophomore Kaleigh Durket received the honor on Aug. 30.
"Dana is continuing to get better and better every day. She is a great talent and we are beginning to expect these types of performance every set, every match," said Bronco head coach Jon Wallace.
"It's an honor to be Player of the Week in this conference," said Knudsen. "I hope next time we will be 3-0 on the weekend. To ensure that, I am working to bring consistent play to every set. I need to focus and concentrate on the small things which will hopefully help us score each time I take a swing."
"Right now, the team is focusing on doing our individual jobs. Those jobs aren't all physical play on the court, they are also mentally concentrating on the right things every point," said Knudsen. "It's difficult, but when it all comes together it's really fun. Some moments this weekend were really rewarding because of all the hard work we've done in the last few months. But, we have to face the fact that we didn't bring that to every play of every set; and we hope to fix that this weekend. That goes for me too."
On a lighter note, Knudsen loves the team this year. "We are like family. We hang out together all time," said Knudsen. "We are always together, at each other houses and just hanging out having fun off the court. We have always been pretty close. A lot of teams don't have that. If for some reason volleyball ended today, we would still hang out just as much as we do now. In the last year we have really learned each other's buttons and habit; and everyone is accepted for who they are."
Santa Clara has another young squad with nine underclassmen. As a third-year sophomore, Knudsen red-shirted her true freshman year, what is she bringing to the team as young leader herself.
Wallace also talked last week about the special relationship Knudsen and junior middle blocker Tanya Schmidt have created. Knudsen agreed with a big smile. "It's like opposites attract. We are two complete separate halves and we fill in each other's gaps," said Knudsen. "There really is a special connection with us. When we feel weak we look to each other for strength. I see Tanya as someone graceful, optimistic and caring; and she looks at me and feels spice and power and it makes her feel strong. We call each other 'Sugar and Spice'."
Finally, Knudsen reflected on her goals for the season. "Clearly I am very focused on my team's goals. I want our team to win, improve, but win," said Knudsen. "We really need to make sure we bring the 'A' game every single day. I know that's a cliché, but we are on our way. There are flashes of greatness, but that consistency isn't there yet. We need to bring that every play, every time we touch the ball."
"I have high hopes for the weekend and I feel like a number of things are coming together. It's time," added Knudsen with a twinkle in her eye.
Also Nominated for WCC Player of the Week: Lilla Frederick (Pepperdine), Gabby Jolly (Saint Mary's), Amy Mahinalani DeGroot (San Diego), Jasmine Rankins (Loyola Marymount)