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Morrow ready to ‘Slug’ it out

Jeremy Evans

Stephanie Morrow knew since the seventh grade she wanted to play college volleyball. All she needed was a school that would make a Tahoe girl feel at home.

She didn’t look any further than the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she is set to begin her freshman season. The Slugs opened the 2006 season this past weekend at the Willamette Tournament in Salem, Ore., and play their home opener on Sept. 5 against Cal State University, Monterey Bay.

“I wanted to come here because I had the best of both worlds,” said Morrow, who was recently named one of four team captains, one for each academic class. “I am living in a redwood forest and I am five minutes from the beach. It’s like I am still living in Tahoe, except now I am next to an ocean.”

The 2004 Sierra League player of the year, Morrow helped the Vikings compile a 43-21 record during her junior and senior years. She recorded a team-high 507 assists as a senior, when South Tahoe went 25-10 and lost to eventual zone and state champion Galena in the Northern 4A semifinals.

As a junior, Morrow led the team in aces (36) and assists (428) and was voted the league’s best player. UC-Santa Cruz, an NCAA Division III school, plans to use her as a setter, though she is also capable of also being a defensive specialist.

“I think at Santa Cruz she’s going to be a great setter,” said former STHS varsity coach Gary Hankoff. “She’s smart, athletic and competitive. She does a good job to get players to play for her.”

Morrow is the third player from last year’s STHS senior class to play college volleyball. Jessica Bettencourt is at Seattle Pacific University and Dana Jensen is at Hawaii Pacific University. Both are NCAA Division II schools.

In fact, all five of the players Hankoff coached as eighth-graders at South Tahoe Middle School are playing college volleyball. Monica Knight and Cayla Knapp, who finished their high school careers at Douglas, are at Hofstra University and Arizona Western Community College, respectively.

“I’m not surprised that all five are playing in college,” said Hankoff, who speculated that volleyball has produced more college players than any other sport at STHS. “They were a really special group. It’s hard to compare different groups, but there has never been a class where every single player went to college.”

Morrow has tentatively declared her major as psychology. For now, though, she’s just worried about having a successful freshman year with the Slugs.

“It was just a perfect fit,” Morrow said. “I fell in love with the school and the coach recruited me to play for her. We want to make it to the playoffs and be one of the Division III schools that threaten the Division II schools.”


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