Editor's pick: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today's list: the top 10 volleyball players in UA history.
Looking back on Caren Kemner’s remarkable volleyball career, it’s amusing she chose Arizona over some of the nation’s top schools because she was uncertain she could make everyone’s lineup.
“I wanted to play," she told the Star in 1985. “I didn’t think I could jump in right away at Stanford or UCLA."
Kemner, who played high school volleyball in Quincy, Illinois, played just two seasons at Arizona before accepting an invitation to be part of the first USA Volleyball team that practiced year-round, in 1986.
She didn’t play at McKale Center again until April 1991, when Team USA played the Soviet Union as part of a national exhibition tour. Before the Americans beat the Soviets in five sets, U.S. coach Terry Liskevych put Kemner’s career in perspective.
“Caren is one of the top three players in the world," he said. “She’s our best serve receiver, best passer, best defensive player and she’s also our best attacker."
Part of the USA’s 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympic teams, Kemner also played professionally in Japan, Brazil and Italy. At 6-feet, 2-inches, she is viewed as one of the 10 leading women’s volleyball players in American history.
Now 52, she has been the head coach at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri for seven years.
Here’s our list of the 10 leading volleyball players in UA history:
A Flowing Wells High School grad who set the national high school record for kills in a season, Bell a three-time All-Pac-10 outside hitter, 1995, 1996 and 1997, setting a then-UA record for kills (1,641) and helped the Wildcats to a pair of Sweet 16 seasons.
The Gatorade national volleyball player of the year at Canyon del Oro High School in 2002, Ladd became a four-year starter at Arizona, starting strong as she made the Pac-12 All-Freshman team and set a freshman record for blocks (124). She is married to Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton.