Jayhawk Duo Named Senior CLASS Candidates

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Both of the Kansas volleyball seniors, Chelsea Albers and Sara McClinton, were named to the list of 30 candidates to be considered for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate volleyball, the committee announced Tuesday.
One of the most dynamic duos in Kansas volleyball history, Albers and McClinton started impacting the program from day one. Both from Nebraska, Albers hails from Papillion and McClinton from Omaha, and the pair entered their senior season after an All-Big 12 First Team performance a year ago. They went on to collect All-America Honorable Mention honors to conclude the 2013 season before embarking on their final year as Jayhawks.
They keep gaining ground. In the first two weeks of the 2014 season, McClinton won Tournament MVP honors in week one and Albers in week two. McClinton became the 14th Jayhawk in the 1,000 career kills club, while Albers is the first player to record 600 kills and 600 digs since 2011.
The Senior CLASS award, however, is less concerned with their talent on the court and more interested in their work away from the court.
“These two have always represented this program in a positive way,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “They are the example of the balance required of a successful student-athlete in that they are both good students, good athletes and good people. We are proud of them, both on and off the court.”
Albers has been a member of the Academic All-Big 12 First Team since she has been eligible for consideration and holds herself to an equally high standard in the classroom as she does on the court. An exercise science major, Albers already has an affinity for coaching and hopes to become a strength and conditioning coach.
She embraces the fact that half of KU’s 14-woman roster are freshmen and admits that it puts her in demanding role that she felt like she needed. Away from volleyball, however, Albers is much different than the aggressive player she is on the court. Her father passed away when she was young, putting her in a position few people have to face at such a young age. Albers uses the tragedy as a constant reminder to be kind to everyone as everyone is fighting their own battle.
McClinton is a two-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team honoree and earned Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District Second Team recognition in 2013, despite recovering from concussions in both the fall and spring seasons. A human biology major, McClinton plans to attend Physician’s Assistant school following her collegiate – and likely professional – volleyball career. She will complete her undergraduate degree in May and hopes to be a PA for a surgeon or pathologist. 
The last two summers, McClinton paid for herself to play on a USA Developmental Team, where she traveled overseas for the first time to strengthen her skills. Aside from her team role, McClinton is also a caring, supportive friend. Her longtime friend, Erin Furness, used to let McClinton tag along with her to the volleyball court. Furness was the star player, while McClinton was a self-proclaimed terrible player at the time. As time passed, McClinton grew up to be a Division I volleyball star while her friend developed the life-threatening Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. While Furness underwent treatment, McClinton visited often and then donated her hair to the Locks of Love charity.  
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. 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.
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 candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship in December.
No. 24 Kansas welcomes UMKC to the Horejsi Family Athletics Center on Sept. 9 for a 6:30 p.m. meeting with the ‘Roos.
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