Santana headed to Swarthmore College | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Santana headed to Swarthmore College

Jeremy Evans

Although the South Tahoe High volleyball team hasn’t qualified for the Northern 4A regional playoffs the past two seasons, there’s been a constant bright spot for the Vikings – Hillary Santana.

Serving as the team’s libero, Santana emerged as one of the region’s top defensive specialists and became an all-league selection. Now that her high school career is over, she’s taking her skills to the East Coast.

Santana has committed to play next year at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, a NCAA Division III school that’s a member of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) and a charter member of the Centennial Conference. She also considered Bryn Mawr and Haverford – both schools that are part of the same conference.

“It pretty much came down to those three,” Santana said. “I met with all the volleyball coaches at least one time. I went back for spring break and visited all three again, and right when I got to Swarthmore, I had that feeling inside of me where I said, ‘This is the one.'”

Santana currently is playing with the Capital City Volleyball Club’s 18-and-under team. The Carson City-based traveling team is led by former Whittell High School coach Dan McLaughlin, who believes Santana is destined to be standout player at the next level.

“I think she’ll be a very strong, solid player,” McLaughlin said. “She has great quickness and great instincts. She is a highly intelligent player, and I think she’ll be a very good volleyball player in college. The faster the game is, the better Hillary plays.”

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Swarthmore finished 9-18 overall and 4-6 in the Centennial Conference. Since it’s a NCAA Division III school, athletes can’t receive athletic scholarships but typically get a financial package with academic scholarships and grants. She ultimately chose Swarthmore because of its academic reputation.

“Education was definitely more of an importance to me than athletics, and Swarthmore is ranked the highest of the three,” said Santana, who will report for the first day of fall practice on Aug. 18. “But I am excited about playing volleyball as well. The girls were amazing, and the coach is really awesome. I can’t wait to get back there.”