A wide range of names from a wide range of schools came up when Division I coaches were asked who was the best player in the country. But a handful of names kept popping up consistently as players who will surely make a difference within their team and also on the national scene.
Clark, a junior opposite, was a First Team All-MPSF selection and led the team and ranked third in the conference in kills (5.04) and points (5.81). He led the team with 50 aces, a UCI single-season record, and he recorded double-digit kills in all but three matches, including 20 or more 17 times. Clark carried the offensive load for the Anteaters as he set Irvine’s single-season attack attempts record with 1,259.
Lawson, a junior outside hitter and the 2010 MPSF Player of the Year, led the Cardinal last season with 522 total kills for an average of 4.92 kills per game on .387 hitting with a team-high 43 service aces along with 167 digs and 61 blocks. The NCAA Championship Co-Most Outstanding Player with teammate Kawika Shoji, Lawson was virtually unstoppable in the title match against Penn State, connecting on 24 of his 28 swings with only one error to hit an astounding .821.
UC Santa Barbara
Menzel, a senior outside hitter, ranked second in the country with 5.16 kills per game and was first in the nation with 588 total kills. He racked up 34 kills against Long Beach State and recorded 70 attacks versus UC San Diego, leading the team in kills in 26 of 29 matches. Menzel fell just short of the school record for attacks in 2010, ending the season with 1,353.
Troy, a senior opposite, is a workhorse for the Trojans. He ranked 10th in the country and first on the team a year ago with 4.62 kills per game and a total of 481 kills on a team-leading 1,098 swings. He was second on the team with 27 aces, picked up 179 digs (fourth on the team) and also provided 77 blocks (third on the squad). He posted a career-high 34 kills on .491 hitting against Pacific last season and was named a First Team All-MPSF selection for the second year in a row.
Umlauft, a sophomore outside hitter, was named the 2010 MPSF Freshman of the Year after leading the league in kills per game (5.29) and points per game (5.97). A native of Germany, Umlauft set a school rally-scoring-era record with 37 kills against UC Irvine and had 36 kills in the MPSF quarterfinal match against Pepperdine. He had double-figure kills in every match, including 13 matches of 20 or more kills, and finished the season with seven 20-kill matches in the team’s last nine contests.
Originally published in February 2011