A former Clearwater Central Catholic High School volleyball player from Dunedin has been named to the all-Big 12 Conference first team in a unanimous vote.
Kansas State swing hitter Kim Zschau, 6 feet 2, finished her career as the school's all-time leader in kills (1,623), digs (1,492) and total attacks (4,555) while leading the Wildcats to three consecutive appearances in the NCAA championship tournament.
The Manhattan Mercury called her the best volleyball player in Kansas State history.
This season, Zschau (pronounced SCHOW) and the Wildcats (19-12) defeated Georgetown in their opening game of the NCAA tournament before being eliminated by Brigham Young.
Looking back on her season, Zschau said it was all very gratifying.
"It's all been gratifying in the sense that our team has meshed so well together and was always on the same page," she said. "I knew (coming out of high school) that if I'd gone to another school, I probably would have sat on the bench. Here, I knew I would have the opportunity to start and make a difference."
And she has made a big difference both on the court, often playing with injuries, and with her leadership.
Said K-State coach Jim McLaughlin: "I don't want to think about not having Kim next year. It gives me nightmares."
Zschau has a 3.0 grade-point average and will graduate this summer with a degree in management. She and teammate Val Wieck tried out for the U.S. World University Games team at the NCAA tournament in Madison, Wis., last month but has not been notified of her status. She also has plans to try to make it onto the USA volleyball team.
Zschau returned home this week via San Antonio, Texas, where she saw her favorite college football team, the K-State Wildcats, lose in the closing seconds to underdog Purdue in the Alamo Bowl.
"That (loss) was disappointing," Zschau said Thursday. "The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) didn't give us a chance to play in a better bowl after our one loss to Texas A&M this season. We wanted to go down there and crush our opponents _ whoever they were."
MORE VOLLEYBALL: Kim's sister, CCC graduate Kira, is a sophomore outside hitter at the Univerity of Mississippi. Another sister, Karla, is a standout player at Clearwater Central Catholic.
MORE FOOTBALL: Kim Zschau got to see all-Big 12 linebacker Darren Howard (Boca Ciega) make a key sack in Tuesday's Alamo Game. Howard has another year of eligibility at Kansas State, but may declare for the NFL draft.
Purdue wide receiver Chris Daniels (Clearwater High) played a major role in the 37-34 upset by catching six passes for 47 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. Daniels, a senior eligible for the NFL draft, saw his Alamo Bowl record erased. Last year he caught a TD pass for 69 yards. This year, Darnell McDonald of KSU caught one for 88 yards.
SMALL COLLEGES: Defensive end Robert Van Sickle (Pinellas Park) played in all 10 games for the MacMurray Highlanders of Jacksonville, Ill., this season. The team earned a final Division III ranking of 15th after compiling a 9-1 record. Van Sickle, who played his first two years at Osceola High, said he liked the small-college atmosphere at MacMurray.
Former Pinellas Park teammate David Green, who made the Times 1997 all-county second team, played wide receiver at Cerritos Community College in Norwalk, Calif., last season and scored a touchdown.
Another former Patriot, linebacker Eric Davis, played JC football at Dixie College in St. George, Utah.
A fourth former Patriot, defensive end Derrick Jones, has another year at Dixie Hollins before moving on to a four-year program. "Derrick, at 6-4 and 250, is being highly recruited," said James Adams, his high school coach. "Florida State is one of those colleges." Jones was named to the Times 1996 all-county first team.
ALL-STARS: Five former Pinellas County players have been selected to play in the inaugural All-Star Gridiron Classic Jan. 16 at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. They are Oscar Davenport (Osceola), North Carolina quarterback; Phil Nash (Clearwater), Syracuse defensive back, and Central Florida offensive linemen Ryan Gillis (Largo), Cornell Green (Lakewood) and Marcus Jenkins (Gibbs).
PRIME TIME: Tight end Nick Franklin (Osceola) will wear No. 81 for Florida State in Monday's national championship game at the Fiesta Bowl. He's a transfer from Southwest Mississippi Junior College.
ATHLETES OF THE YEAR: This column's Pinellas County college male athlete of the year is quarterback Shaun King (Gibbs) at undefeated Tulane, who was 10th in the Heisman Trophy balloting. He's the first player in Division I-A history to pass for more than 3,000 yards (3,227) and run for more than 500 (549) in a season. He was named Conference USA offensive player of the year for the second consecutive year.
Soccer star Renee Vinnedge (Clearwater) earns the women's honor after leading the nation in scoring with 41 goals and 10 assists at Queens College. Vinnedge, a senior forward, was the NCAA scoring leader for all divisions, men and women. She has been selected to play in the College All-Star Classic at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium on Feb. 5 in a game that will be closely watched by national soccer team representatives and those from major pro leagues.
BASKETBALL: Ron Hale (Largo High) continues to lead Florida State in scoring (15.3 points per game) and rebounding (6.4 average). In Wednesday's 80-76 overtime win over Murray State in the Rainbow Classic, he was held to seven points.
At St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., freshman Aimee Sodenkamp (Boca Ciega) is playing the No. 2 guard position. She scored six points in a win over Notre Dame College of Ohio last week. Sodenkamp has a Class 5A state high school championship ring from coach Harry Elifson's Pirates of the 1995-96 season.