On Eve of Bronco Volleyball Kicking Off Season Schmidt Named as Candidate for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

On the eve of Santa Clara's first 2011 volleyball match in Seattle, senior Tanya Schmidt was named as a candidate for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.  Schmidt, one of just two from the WCC on the list, is a returning All-WCC First Team Middle Blocker for the Broncos who also excels in the classroom, sporting a 3.97 GPA as she enters her final season - one of the highest GPAs among the candidates. Click here to read Schmidt's Lowe's Senior Class Bio.  

Bronco head coach Jon Wallace, entering his 13th season at the Bronco helm, is equally impressed by Schmidt's accolades on and off the court.  "Tanya is committed to improvement and her drive to improve every day is contagious," said Wallace.  "She is very humble so her actions go a long way.  Tanya is not happy with being the best in the gym, she wants to be the best that she can be and she puts no limits on her development.  Tanya is always climbing the mountain, each set giving her a sense of accomplishment, but her head is always looking up to conquer the next challenge. She is a Rhodes Scholar Candidate and I am certain the Rhodes Committee will be blown away by what a fantastic person Tanya is."

The Lowe's Senior Class Award recognizes the attributes of senior student-athletes in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition. Click here for a complete list of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Candidates.

Santa Clara starts off the 2011 season fast with Pac-10 opponent Washington State at 1 pm on Fri., Aug. 26 as part of the Fall Volley hosted by Seattle University.  Santa Clara will play host-Seattle at 7 pm Friday evening.  Santa Clara finishes off play in the Emerald City with a 1 pm match on Sat., Aug. 27 vs. Eastern Washington.

Santa Clara is 8-4 in season openers under Wallace. It is 4-6 vs. Washington State with its last meeting coming in 1997, a 3-0 loss in Pullman.  It is 2-0 vs. Seattle, winning 3-0 the past two years.  It is playing Eastern Washington for the first time.

Santa Clara will be working to capture its 12th NCAA Tournament bid under Wallace.

Santa Clara returns three All-WCC players in Schmidt, Dana Knudsen and Kaleigh Durket.  Durket and Knudsen were both named to the All-WCC Honorable Mention team.  Knudsen played in 102 sets and averaged 2.77 kills per set with 255 total kills, collecting a .326 hitting percentage.  Knudsen was named to the WCC All-Freshman team in 2009 after she played in 105 matches, averaging 2.26 kills per set.  Durket was named to the All-WCC Honorable Mention team in 2010 after playing in 102 sets and averaging 3.47 kpg and 1.78 dpg.

Santa Clara is also excited to welcome back Katherine Douglas after she redshirted last season due to injury.  As a freshman in 2009 Douglas played in 59 sets, picking up 142 kills and 122 digs.

Wallace is also excited about the way the team has practiced and played in the two weeks of the preseason, but wasn't ready earlier in the week to line a starting line-up.  "We won't put the starters down on paper until Friday morning. We have nine or 10 women competing for the starting spots."

Juniors Kayla Lommori, Lexi Williamson and Alexandra Palmer bring plenty of experience to the squad as returning starters. Williamson and Lommori both toil as outside hitters. In 2010 Williamson played in 101 sets and averaged 2.66 dpg.  Lommori played in 96 sets averaging 3.16 kpg and 1.98 dpg, adding four double-doubles.  Lommori and Douglas traveled to China this past summer to play against high-level Chinese competition as part of an American college touring team.  

Palmer, a setter who struggled with injuries her freshman year, played in 68 sets, averaging 2.84 apg in 2010. Villanova transfer Alyssa Anderson will also help run the Bronco offense as a setter.  Anderson, named to the Big East Conference Second-Team in 2010, played in 90 sets, starting 24 matches as the team finished with a 23-7 record, including 11-3 in the Big East Conference. 

Sophomore middle blocker Megan Anders, the tallest Bronco on the roster at 6-5, is looking forward to making her presence well-known this season as well.  After missing the first three weeks of the season with an ankle injury in 2010, Anders played in 54 sets, hitting .159 with 32 kills and 28 blocks.

Overseeing the defense is three-year starter Bridget O'Hara, a senior.  In 2010 O'Hara played in 105 sets and averaged 4.71 dpg, collecting 447 digs on the season as the starting libero.  O'Hara will be joined by sophomore Ali Rambis, who scored a number of big serves last year, playing in 85 sets and finishing the season with 17 service aces and 27 digs.

Freshman newcomers Taylor Milton (right side), Katy Schatzman (libero) and Chloe Sliger (setter) are also working hard to learn the system in the early days.  Wallace likes the athletism Milton brings to the court on the offensive end and the energy both Schatzman and Sliger bring to the team. 

Note: The 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS candidates include nine American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Americans and eight honorable mention All-Americans from last season. More than half of the 30 have maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or better. Two of the candidates were recognized by the College Sports Information Directors of America as 2010 Academic All-Americans. Ten of the candidates play for teams ranked in the AVCA preseason top 25 poll. Lowe's, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, will announce the Senior CLASS Award® winner during the 2011 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship, which will be played December 15 and 17 in San Antonio.

The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.