Due to their superb play this season for the UCSB women’s volleyball team, senior libero Chelsey Lowe and senior right side Stacey Schmidt were named Honorable Mention All-Americans in December by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. It was the third straight season in which two UCSB women’s volleyball players received All-American recognition.

Schmidt talked about how the award is the result of her goal to play well with her teammates rather than to focus on individual accomplishments.

“Being All-American was never really a goal of mine,” Schmidt said. “[We] are more focused on team goals during the season. I am glad my last season turned out the way it did and that I got to play with great teammates.”

This is the second straight season that Schmidt was named an All-American and she is just the fourth player in program history to be honored twice as an All-American.

“What an accomplishment for Stacey to be rewarded back-to-back,” Head Coach Kathy Gregory told ucsbgauchos.com. “Overall her game improved from last year as she was able to play the back row and become a defensive player … Stacey really withstood the pressure and always competed at a high level.”

Schmidt had a hitting percentage of .278 this season while averaging 2.93 kills per set and 0.91 blocks per set, both second best on the team. In November, she was named to the All-Big West First Team for the third straight season.

Meanwhile, Lowe set a school record with her 652 total digs, for an average of 5.30 per set that placed her among the top 30 liberos in the nation. Her career ranked at eighth in the school’s all-time list in total digs and she too was named to the All-Big West First Team this season. She is the first back row player from UCSB to be honored as an All-American since 2004.

Lowe reiterated that these postseason honors are secondary to the intrinsic reward of being a Gaucho.

“It’s pretty cool to be recognized nationally; however, those awards aren’t as great as the memories and friendships I created my senior year,” Lowe said. “This season as a whole was the perfect way to end the sport I love so much and grew up playing! I’m going to miss playing volleyball with my best friends, along with playing under Kathy and Dan.”

Gregory explained how it is rare for someone in Lowe’s position to earn the recognition she did.

“[All-American] is a remarkable award because it is very difficult for a libero to be selected,” Gregory said. “No one could deny her superior play this season … Chelsey brought an inspirational attitude and effort and that was instrumental in our never-say-die attitude throughout the year.”

Both were also honored as First Team All-West Region selections, and Schmidt became only the eighth Gaucho to make the First Team more than once in her career. UCSB, which finished the season 19-12 overall and placed second in the Big West, had two players on the First Team for the third consecutive season.

“I never even thought about receiving these awards coming into my senior year,” Lowe said. “Comparing last year to this year is like night and day, which makes me appreciate it all so much more.”

Lowe and Schmidt were additionally named to the Big West Academic All-Conference teams for the fall 2011 season, along with junior defensive specialist Erica Lau. Student athletes are required to maintain at least a 3.2 cumulative grade point average and compete in at least 50 percent of their team’s competitions to be eligible for the Big West Academic All-Conference team.

“It is such an honor to be recognized like this in our final season,” Schmidt said. “Everyone wants to go out with a bang!”