UNI's Blankenship Honored with Lowe's Class Act Award - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UNI's Blankenship Honored with Lowe's Class Act Award

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KANSAS CITY(KWWL)-- Northern Iowa libero Ellie Blankenship, who led her team to a number 10 national ranking and an appearance in the 2010 NCAA women's volleyball tournament, has been selected as the 2010 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award winner in volleyball – the first year the award has been given in the sport. The announcement and trophy presentation were made today by Lowe's, an official corporate partner of the NCAA®, during the 2010 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship in Kansas City. 

The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I women's volleyball head coaches, national media and fans is to be given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I women's volleyball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. 

"It's an incredible honor to be chosen for this award among so many other very deserving athletes," Blankenship said. "Student-athletes have a tremendous platform to influence lives, and the opportunity to set an example for younger kids is so important. I think what Lowe's is doing with this award is awesome." 

Blankenship will earn her degree in management information systems. She is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Management Information Systems Association on campus. She volunteers at the local humane society and food bank on a regular basis and has participated in the Just Read Program!

"Ellie Blankenship exemplifies exactly what the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award is all about. I am extremely blessed to have been able to not only coach a student-athlete like Ellie, but to have her be an amazing example in our program," head coach Bobbi Petersen said. "Ellie's competitive skills and abilities on the court speak for themselves with all of her accomplishments, but the student she is, the community member she is, and the person she is and the way she lives her life is what makes her one of a kind. I know she is completely humbled with receiving this award, which also speaks to her incredible character. I am so proud of her and the leader she has become and am fortunate to have an individual like Ellie in my life." 

Blankenship became the eighth player in Division I history to record more than 2,500 career digs and currently ranks second among active players for career digs. She earned most valuable player honors at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and was also named Missouri Valley Conference Libero of the Year. The Panthers have appeared in the NCAA tournament every year during Blankenship's career. 

 "We are excited that a student-athlete of Ellie's character is the first winner of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for volleyball," said Tom Lamb, Lowe's senior vice president of marketing. "In a sport where excellence in the community and classroom are celebrated, Ellie's commitment in both areas stood out."

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