April 12, 2012
Minnesota volleyball interim head coach Laura Bush has announced that Dana Knudsen (Sacramento, Calif.), Alexandra Palmer (Laguna Beach, Calif.), Daly Santana (Corozal, P.R.), Karyn Israel (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Kalysta White (Laguna Beach, Calif.) will join the Gopher volleyball program next fall. With the five April additions as well as the two Gopher signees from the early period in Karlie Hauer (Andover, Minn.) and Lindsey Lawmaster (Los Alamitos, Calif.), the Gophers will have seven additions to the 2012 roster.
"We have a versatile group of athletes that will be joining our team next fall," Bush said. "We added players with high level international, collegiate, and/or top level club/high school volleyball experience. With this group, we will bring in veteran leadership with Dana Knudsen and Alexandra Palmer, who chose to transfer from Santa Clara University. Along with adding freshmen Daly Santana, Karyn Israel and Kalysta White, we are excited about this class and look forward to having them as members of the volleyball team and a part of the University of Minnesota."
Knudsen and Palmer are transfer student athletes from Santa Clara. In her red-shirt junior year with Santa Clara, Knudsen, the 6-foot, 3-inch middle blocker garnered All-WCC First Team honors last season. She ranked second on the team in kills (238), while hitting a team high (.332) and led the team with 61 blocks. As a sophomore with the Broncos, Knudson was an All-WCC Honorable Mention, while receiving WCC All-Freshman honors as a rookie in 2009. A2008 graduate of St. Francis High School in Sacramento, Knudson aided the Troubadours to three consecutive Delta River League championships in 2005, '06 and '07 and received all-league honors in 2006-07. The daughter of David and Kimberly Knudsen, she is a marketing major.
"It's hard to beat such a prestigious program with so much history of greatness," Knudsen said. "In addition, the coaches and the girls are so wonderful, and they have such a fire to succeed."
Alexandra Palmer is a 5-7 setter, who completed her junior season at Santa Clara in 2011. A WCC honorable mention last year, Palmer played in 71 sets last season and was second on the team with 429 assists and 131 digs. As a sophomore in 2010, Palmer averaged 2.84 assists per game when she played in 68 sets and had 165 assists. A wrist injury sidelined her for most of her rookie season in 2009. Playing for Laguna Beach High School, Palmer was a 2008 Prep Volleyball All-American and Academic All-American. She also played club volleyball with Laguna Beach VBC that won the bronze medal at the JO 18 Open. The daughter of Sylvain and Rosemary Palmer, she is majoring in Classics.
"I chose the University of Minnesota for the opportunity to play Big Ten volleyball under an amazing coaching staff with phenomenal volleyball players as well as furthering my education at a top university," Palmer said.
Daly Santana is a 6-1 outside hitter from Corozal, Puerto Rico, who signed a National Letter of Intent. With a wealth of international experience, Santana has performed well and had led her Puerto Rico Youth National Team in most of her appearances. She was the captain of Puerto Rico's Youth National Team at the 2011 FIVB Volleyball Girls' Youth World Championship in Turkey, her second appearance after a 2010 showing. In 2010, Santana also led Puerto Rico to a bronze medal at the 2010 NORCECA Girls' Youth Volleyball tournament. Santana also competed for Llnaeras Toa Baja in 2010-11, a women's professional volleyball team that competes in the Puerto Rico Superior League. Selected in 2011 to compete on the Puerto Rico Women's National Team, she was also on the national team roster for the Pan American games this past fall in Mexico. Her most recent accolade was her selection to the Puerto Rico Women's National Team as they are set to play in the 2012 Pan American Cup in Mexico and the World Grand Prix throughout various countries. She is the daughter of Christian E Santana and Magdaly Morales, and is interested in pursuing a degree in the medical field.
"Minnesota meets all expectations I was looking for," Santana said. "Within studying medicine at one of the best universities in the United States, the volleyball program is well established and has great support. These two aspects were essential in my decision, as the medical field where I want to develop and grow both in the sport of volleyball. They have shown great interest in me, besides other criteria that have been important to me when choosing a university. My visit to the University of Minnesota, was incredible and I know I picked the perfect place for me."
Karyn Israel and Kalysta White have both signed a letter of acceptance to Minnesota and will compete for the Golden Gophers. Israel hails from Huntington Beach. Calif., and is a 6-0 setter. An all-league selection with Edison High School, Israel was a three-year letterwinner and a member of the Sunset League Co-Championship team in 2011. She ranks fifth all-time in school history in assists and was named the team's most improved as a sophomore. Playing nine years of club volleyball, she also participated in the Junior Olympics and was chosen for the SCVA High Performance Global Challenge Team in 2010. The daughter of Chip Israel and Lisa Israel, she is interested in majoring in biomedical engineering.
"The moment I stepped foot on the campus, I knew the `U' was the place I would go to school," Israel said. "When looking at colleges, I wanted a larger university with great academics along with a top volleyball program. Minnesota fit all of my criteria plus when you add in the great coaching staff and team, it was an easy decision. I know I will get a great education, and I look forward to starting a new chapter in my life as a Golden Gopher."
White is a 5-5 defensive specialist/libero from Laguna Beach, Calif. Named the team's defensive player of the year in both 2009 and 2008, White also received the Captain Award in 2008. White was a part of the Orange Coast Conference championship team three straight years. Playing club volleyball from 2008-12, White also was selected to represent Southern California in the 2010 Global Challenge Team, where they traveled and competed internationally. The daughter of Kenny and Halina Sullivan, she plans to major in human development.
"I chose Minnesota because I had heard great things about the U from other past players," White said. "When I had a chance to spend some time on campus with the team and the staff, I just knew this was the place for me. The tradition and history of Minnesota volleyball is very impressive. I think the future is full of promise and I want to be part of that. The players and the staff have all been great. I am very excited to be a Gopher and look forward to joining the team as soon as possible."
Gophers Gear Up for NCAA Regionals
Minnesota is set to host Missouri, North Carolina and UCLA in the NCAA Regionals this week.
Four Earn All-Region Honors
Alexis Hart, Samantha Seliger-Swenson, Hannah Tapp, and Sarah Wilhite earned All-Region honors for the Golden Gophers. Molly Lohman and Paige Tapp earned region honorable mentions.
NCAA Sets Regionals, Gophers Play Friday
Match and television/streaming times have been slated for the NCAA Division I Volleyball Regional Semifinals and Finals next weekend.