Minnesota middle blocker Paige Tapp has been named the recipient of the 2016 Senior CLASS Award, given annually for the most outstanding senior athlete in a variety of NCAA Division I sports, including women’s volleyball. The award, voted upon by Division I coaches, national media, and fans, is given annually to “the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I volleyball.”
The finalists for the award are all elite-caliber players on the court, but to win the award an athlete must demonstrate achievements in four separate areas: classroom, community, character, and competition. The award was designed to recognize student-athletes who stay in school until graduation.
Tapp becomes the first athlete in University of Minnesota history, in any sport, to win this award.
“It’s an honor to receive the Senior CLASS Award,” said Tapp, whose Golden Gophers will take on Stanford tomorrow in the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Four. “My time at the University of Minnesota has been the best experience of my life. I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and the people who have helped me succeed these past four years. I have been pushed, tested, and empowered to be the best version of myself in all aspects of life. I know that beyond my career as a Gopher, my time here has prepared me for a great future. I cannot thank my coaches enough for their investment and guidance in my life; I can truly say that they have made me who I am today.”
The award was announced on Wednesday, a day before the Golden Gophers will face Stanford in the national semi-finals of the NCAA tournament.
On the court, Tapp is averaging 1.08 blocks/set this season, which ranks her 14th in the Big Ten. In the classroom, she has a 3.88 GPA as a marketing major, and recently graduated after completing her coursework in just 3.5 years.
Tapp was recognized as Minnesota’s honoree for the Big Ten Sporstmanship award, has over 16 hours of community service work through M.A.G.I.C. (Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community) and Athletes in Action Ultimate Training Camp, and has participated in the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She also has assisted in fundraising events for Unlimited Dance Marathon and has volunteered at the Gopher Athletics’ HopeDay Festival, an annual event that works in conjunction with the HopeKids organization.
All 10 finalists were named to either the First Team or Second Team. Paige’s twin sister, Hannah, was one of the second-team honorees; among other players participating in this weekend’s Final Four to be honored include Kadie Rolfzen of Nebraska and Inky Ajanaku of Stanford, who are both on the First Team.
An original watch-list of 30 seniors was first whittled to 10 before Tapp was selected as the 2016 winner.
Editor’s note: the award is currently given to athletes in men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, football, hockey, lacrosse, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, softball, and women’s volleyball.
Volleyball 2016 Winner
|Paige Tapp||Middle Blocker||University of Minnesota|
|Inky Ajanaku||Middle Blocker||Stanford University|
|Jazzmin Babers||Middle Blocker||Texas A&M|
|Kadie Rolfzen||Outside Hitter||Nebraska|
|Lauren Smith||Middle Blocker||Creighton|
|Amy Boswell||Middle blocker||BYU|
|Katie Brand||Setter||Kansas State University|
|Claire Felix||Middle Blocker||UCLA|
|Hannah Tapp||Right Side Hitter/ Middle Blocker||University of Minnesota|
|Taylor Whittingham||Libero||University of Southern California|
- 2015 – Cassie Strickland, libero, University of Washington
- 2014 – Liz McMahon, opposite hitter, University of Illinois
- 2013 – Ariel Scott, right side, Penn State
- 2012 – Gina Mancuso, outside hitter, Nebraska
- 2011 – Kanani Danielson, outside hitter, Hawaii
- 2010 – Ellie Blankenship, libero, Northern Iowa