Locals still playing

It is always interesting to watch our local volleyball players as they move on to play collegiately.

The opportunity to play in college is a very special one and we are so fortunate to have many playing.

Former Newport Harbor High All-Sunset League middle blocker Katie Wells is again leading her team at Fordham in hitting percentage and is second in kills. As a returning All-Atlantic 10 and all-academic player, Katie has made quite a name for herself as she finishes her college career. At UC Irvine, former Corona del Mar star Juliane Piggott has recovered from early-season back problems to lead the Anteaters from her outside hitting position.

Former Estancia star Jaye Hellmich starts in the middle blocking position for Robert Morris (Pa.) where she has enjoyed a very successful career.

Megan Toman (Newport Harbor) starts her senior season as one of the outside hitters at Brown University. She is joined at Brown by Newport's Carly Cotton and CdM's freshman Amanda Nickel. Carly leads the team in service aces and is second in digs, while Amanda is finding court time as an opposite player. Ivy League play starts this week which will be fun to watch.

At UC Santa Barbara, Kasey Kipp starts her senior year as one of the middle blockers. She led the Gauchos last season in hitting percentage. Newport Harbor's Katey Thompson and Kelly Heenan are enjoying their freshman seasons with the usual learning curve that is required to play collegiately. Katey has played both middle and opposite and, as always, brings her fiery competitive attitude to the floor. Kelly has worked her way into the starting libero position and leads the team in digs. An interesting early match put Kasey Kipp playing against her sister, Conley, and Washington State. With both Kipps starting in the middle, UCSB won the match in four games. Both girls played well and, no, neither blocked the other one.

I received some sad news when I talked to Texas Christian University Coach Prentice Perkins Lewis (former CdM state champ and NCAA champ at Long Beach State). Megan Munce (Newport) who was an honorable mention All-American setter last season, tore her anterior cruciate ligament during a match against Louisiana State and is out for the season. While devastated, Megan will redshirt this season and have two seasons left to play.

Kara Chatham (Corona del Mar) is playing every game as a back-row specialist at Villanova. Jamie Heenan (Newport) leads her Vanguard team from the outside hitting position. Vanguard is coached by former Sailor Marissa Cothran Booker.

The Ivy League rosters are filled with our local players. At Harvard, Jennifer Martin (CdM) is a sophomore outside hitter, while Alice Cope (Newport) is one of the middle blockers at Cornell.

Jennifer Palmquist (Newport) leads Princeton from her right-side position. She was named to the all-tournament team last weekend at Penn State. Sydney Brombal (CdM) has worked her way into the starting lineup as a freshman outside hitter at Princeton also.

At the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Ari Lysacek (Newport Harbor) is the starting setter for the second year. She has led the Spartans to an amazing 12-3 start to this season.

After two seasons at Colorado, former Sailor Alex Penewell has transfered to Montana State University where she starts in the middle. Freshman Mackenzi Campbell (Newport) starts at the setting position. These two have led the Bobcats to their best start in years. Mackenzi was named to the all-tournament team at the Indiana State Classic.

At USC, Newport's Kirby Burnham is making her move. As their shortest outside hitter at 6-foot-2, she leads the Trojans in hitting percentage at the outside hitting position. USC is currently undefeated as they move into Pac 10 play.

Madie Smith (CdM) is a setter for UCLA, which is 10-1.

The Bruins play at USC on Friday night.

It will be fun to follow these players as they live this exciting athletic experience.

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