Honor Roll No. 3: Alix Klineman

During the months of June and July, we are releasing the 10 winners of this award, one by one. Our previously announced members of the Honor Roll are soccer's Christen Press and football's Andrew Luck. Our third announced member of The Bootleg's 2011 Honor Roll is volleyball's Alix Klineman

In a June 3 article, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2010/2011 school-year.

The criteria are as follows: Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student- athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed "Spirit of Stanford."

She arrived on the Farm with unparalleled hype. If her sport had men's basketball's following, she would have been right up there with LeBron, gracing Sports Illustrated's cover at the ripe old age of 16. Sure, she was the National Player of the Year on the top-ranked team in the country her senior year, a two- time California Player of the Year, a three-time High School All-American, but it was and wasn't those things. She, folks in the know would whisper, was something special.

So it was that Alix Klineman stepped onto the Farm in 2007, standing 6-foot-4, wearing typical freshman jitters, and facing all the pressure in the world. Then, the volleyball started, and she just delivered.

Freshman year, she was Volleyball Magazine's National Freshman of the Year and First Team All- American. (She was also All-Final Four, earning against Penn State in the NCAA Finals 18 kills, 15 digs and the dubious honor of being one of Stanford's few players not to wilt under the pressure.)

Sophomore year, more of the same. A unanimous First Team All-American now, with both Volleyball Magazine and AVCA giving her the nod. All-Final Four for the second year running, laying down twenty kills in the national semifinal and pacing Stanford yet again in the national championship game, this time with a team-high 15 kills.

By their lofty standards, junior year was a down year for Stanford, who fell in the Round of 16, and for Klineman, who was "just" a Second-Team All-American after leading her team in kills, as she would for each of her four years on the Farm. Fall 2010 would be respectable but nothing special for Stanford women's volleyball either, as they'd go 4-of-4 for Pac-10 titles with Klineman on the Farm, but would again miss the Final Four, this time falling in the Regional Finals. For Klineman though, fall 2010 was another beast entirely.

In 30 of 31 games, Klineman would lead her team, a group not entirely devoid of rather talented players in their own right, in kills. Kills are far and away the most important stat for an outside hitter like Klineman, and she delivered in bunches. Anything over 20 is very good, anything over 25 is outstanding, and anything over 30 is ridiculous (remember, Klineman's 15 kills led the squad in the 2008 NCAA Final), but Klineman would burst through all those benchmarks with ease. She set a career record with 39 (! ) kills against Arizona State in September, had another 30-kill night against Washington in October and then, for yet another season, came up big in the NCAA Tournament. In the Regional Semis, 29 kills and seven digs, and then, in the final game of her Stanford career, 28 kills, 10 digs, two assists, two aces and a block in a heartbreaking loss to USC.

Volleyball Magazine would name Klineman National Player of the Year for her senior season. The record books would also smile favorably upon her. With 2,008 career kills, Klineman became the second-ever player at Stanford and fifth in Pac-10 history to crack the 2,000-mark. She shattered the 1,000 career dig mark with 1,125, evidence of a rare combination of offensive and defensive prowess. She walked off at graduation a four-time All-American, and, in 2008, was training with the U.S. National team, the youngest player to do so.

Suffice it to say, Alix Klineman survived the pressure and lived up to the hype. It may be small potatoes compared to what she's won and what could come yet, but The Bootleg is proud to name you the third member of our 2010 Honor Roll.

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