Sophomore middle blocker becomes Matador VB player in 5 years to reach All-American status
Yuma, Arizona – December 4, 2012 – Arizona Western College is proud to announce that AWC Volleyball player Amanda Watkins has been named as an NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American. Watkins becomes the first Matador Volleyball player to earn a spot on the NJCAA All-American list since Patty Paniagua made 2nd Team honors in 2007. Watkins is also part of a two-person contingent representing the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference on the 2012 list. The announcement comes just under a month after Watkins led the Lady Matadors to a berth in the District C Finals after winning their first Region I Championship in five years.
The accolade completes the gradual climb to the national spotlight that Watkins has made over the last two years. As a freshman, she quietly aspired to become the team’s best player by the end of the season, resulting in a 1st Team All-ACCAC/All-Region I selection last November, and an opportunity to at least make her first case for All-American consideration. This season, despite the increased attention paid to the Los Angeles, California native by opponents, Watkins continued to be as accurate as ever, leading the Lady Matadors nearly all season in hitting efficiency, finishing with a .334 average. She led the team with kills in five different matches this season, finishing 4th on the team in that category with 170 kills overall, and 4th in kills per set at 1.89. But Watkins’ big strength was in the middle of the AWC defense, since there weren’t many kill attempts by opponents near the middle of the net that weren’t emphatically returned to their side of the court by Watkins. Watkins’ 54 solo blocks were not only tops on the team, they were good enough for 9th-best in nation; and her 1.4 blocks-per-set average was tied for 7th-best in the nation. She wound up with126 total blocks (54 solo, 72 assist), which ranked her in the top 25 in the nation as well.
Now that Watkins has received the final jewel of her 2-year playing career, she’ll now concentrate on another type of ‘final’: her final exams for the fall semester next week. She’ll also start working towards a final decision on where she’ll head for the next stop on her road to a four-year degree, which in her head coach’s eyes, is an even larger accomplishment than what she did on the court. “I’m very proud of Amanda, since she had another outstanding season. We had a very talented team this year, and she was still our go-to hitter. The ‘side out’ numbers for the entire team always showed that Amanda being in the front row was the most important thing we had. But even more than that, Amanda’s on track to graduate, has some big schools recruiting her, and she’s just carrying on the tradition of a non-qualifier coming in here, and doing her job both as a volleyball player and a student-athlete, and we’re very proud of her.” Watkins is expected to be on the list of four-year signees when the NCAA’s signing period begins in mid-April.