The women’s volleyball team at Penn State New Kensington placed a campus-record four players on the USCAA 2012 Academic All-America team.
Sophomores Kara Shaley, Melissa Daugherty, Thamy Ferreira and Melissa Betush were honored for their academic prowess by the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, the national governing body for New Kensington’s athletic teams. The USCAA recognizes student-athletes who have grade-point averages of 3.5 and higher.
Shaley, a kinesiology major from West Shamokin High School, is an 5-foot, 4-inch outside hitter and co-captain. She led the team in kills (115) and digs (203). Daugherty, a civil engineering major from Plum High School, topped the squad is service aces (46). The 5-foot, 4-inch outside hitter was co-captain along with Staley.
“Kara’s energy, attitude and leadership had a significant impact on the chemistry of our team,” said Dave McGeary, third-year head coach. “Melissa is a complete player; she can hit, set, dig and serve, and she does all of them well.”
Ferreira, a nuclear engineering major, has led the team in assists the past two seasons. The 5-foot, 3-inch setter is a graduate of Penn-Trafford High School. A 5-foot, 4-inch defensive specialist, Betush is a philosophy major who is a product of the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School.
“Thamy has a very smooth set and a very short but tricky serve,” said McGeary, who guided the New Kensington Lady Lions to a 6-17 record. “Melissa provided consistent back row play all season.”
Since joining the USCAA in 2005, the campus has produced nine academic All-Americans. Volleyball is the standard bearer for campus athletics with six selections including Christy Heasley (2007) and Kayla Smail (2009). The others are Jeremy Hurt, men’s basketball (2008 and 2009), Matt Knapp, golf (2011) and Adam Stawski, golf (2012).
The USCAA is geared toward providing athletic opportunities to small colleges with enrollments of less than 2,500. It sponsors 11 national championship tournaments in men’s and women’s sports. Established in 2001, the USCAA was incorporated to provide an opportunity for members to compete on an equal level of competition with schools of similar size and athletic programs. Headquartered in Newport News, Va., the organization has more than 82 member institutions in 24 states, stretching from Maine to California.