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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (December 13, 2017) – Penn State women’s volleyball middle blocker Haleigh Washington has been selected as the 2017 Senior CLASS Award® winner in NCAA® Division I women’s volleyball. The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I volleyball coaches, national volleyball media
Washington was also joined by teammate Simone Lee as First-Team Senior CLASS Award All-Americans in 2017. This marked the first time that Penn State women’s volleyball has two student-athletes honored in the same season.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Washington is the fifth Senior CLASS Award winner from Penn State, making Penn State the school with the second-most winners in award history behind Duke, which as six. Washington joins Ariel Scott, who won in 2013, as the two Penn State women's volleyball student-athletes honored.
“First of all, it is an honor to be recognized in this way, and I’m so glad that I can represent Penn State in such a positive light,” said Washington, whose Nittany Lions will take on Nebraska tomorrow in the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Four. “I think Penn State has made me a complete person. It has cultivated more than just the academic side and the athletic side; it’s helped me grow as a human being. Just knowing how to engage with people one-on-one and how to make someone feel special and important and heard. That’s not a skill that a lot of people get to develop, and the fact I got to share in this community, and learn how to do that in this community is incredible. So I am just honored and so incredibly humbled that I get to represent Penn State in this way, but I would not have been able to do it without this community. It has made me who I am today.”
Already a two-time All-American for her outstanding play at middle blocker, Washington earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors this season after averaging 1.52 blocks per set. She also led the nation with a .503 hitting percentage, while putting down 3.06 kills per set on the season. A four-time All-Big Ten honoree, Washington helped Penn State to a 33-1 record, a No. 1 overall ranking in the final polls of the season and the top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Also a standout in the classroom, Washington is a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American, earning second-team honors in 2015 and 2017, and third-team honors in 2016. She also earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons and has been named to the Penn State Dean’s List in multiple semesters.
“Haleigh did not miss much in college that is for sure,” Penn State women’s volleyball head coach Russ Rose said of his senior captain. “She has always been on the go. Not a lot of universities are fortunate to have individuals like Haleigh. She did it the right way, and I hope she gets to book end her athletic experience, but also know that she certainly embraced the term ‘student-athlete.”
Washington is a well-respected leader whose commitment to high character and community service also has received recognition. Beyond the court and classroom, she has participated in Athletes Take Action Hall of Fame Sport’s Walk and volunteered for the Special Olympics. She also has spent time reading to children at the local elementary schools, helped with the Paterno Family Fun Run, participated in Multiple Penn State Sports Camps and helped with Paterno Library Reading Marathon.
“On behalf of everyone associated with the Senior CLASS Award, we are honored to announce Haleigh Washington as this year’s winner for women’s volleyball,” said Erik Miner, executive director for the Senior CLASS Award. “To achieve such a high level of success on the court and in the classroom is one thing, but to do it while maintaining
First-Team Senior CLASS Award All-Americans
Kelsey Bittinger, Kent State
Lily Johnson, Missouri State
Simone Lee, Penn State
Jessica Lucas, Western Kentucky
Haleigh Washington, Penn State
Second-Team Senior CLASS Award All-Americans
Ashley Dusek, Kentucky
Jaelyn Keene, Illinois State
Abbie Lehman, Wichita State
Mary-Kate Marshall, Oregon State
Katie Staiger, Baylor