CALIFORNIA — Meghan Franz accomplished quite a bit in her four seasons as a middle hitter for the California (Pa.) University women’s volleyball team.
The Vulcans reached the NCAA Division II Regional Championship for the seventh consecutive year this season and Franz set an all-time school record with 493 blocks.
At the top of her list, however, came after the season — being named Capital One First-Team Academic All-American. She was selected third-team Academic All-American last season.
“I was shocked,” said Franz, a Seneca Valley graduate from Cranberry Township. “I’m so happy and so humbled. I’ve always been so grateful of the opportunities I had at Cal. I always try to do my best.”
Franz is the school’s first volleyball player, and just the sixth student-athlete, to repeat as an Academic All-American and just one of five in Division II to duplicate the feat from last season.
“I’ve always been student first, athlete second,” Franz said.
Franz has a 3.91 GPA as she is pursuing a degree in secondary education with a concentration in biology and working toward a minor in chemistry. To qualify, student-athletes must attain a 3.3 GPA or higher, be at least a sophomore and participated in at least 50 percent of the team’s games and be a starter or key reserve.
In the latter regard, Franz is a four-year starter who led the PSAC and was 18th in the country with a career-best .363 hitting percentage this year. She had a team-leading 123 blocks and was second with 297 kills. Along with the career blocks record, Franz finished seventh in school history with 1,149 kills.
“Honestly, I’d rather be the last team standing with a trophy at the end than to win an individual award,” Franz said about her career blocks record. “It’s great to have. It’s awesome, but it’s not something I thought of through the years. It’s something that happened.
“I remember when I came in as a freshman and I played with Ludmila Amaral and she was a big factor in helping me to adjust,” Franz added.
“There’s a reason she’s an All-American,” said Vulcans second-year coach Peter Letourneau. “She does a great job in the classroom. She’s quite an asset to the team. She’s multifaceted.
“Meghan’s the total package. Defensively, she’s a dominant player. She takes the load off her teammates. And she’s a great offensive player, as well,” Letourneau added.
Franz almost didn’t attend Cal as she had been close to choosing Edinboro, the alma mater of her high school coach, Karen Martini. Martini, however, phoned her after watching Cal and said Franz should consider playing for the Vulcans’ program.
Of course, with Franz, choosing a school for her major was the key to her choice and she decided California was the place to be, both off and on the volleyball court.
“When I was looking, the school had to be in an outstanding league,” Franz said. “I’m ridiculously competitive.”
At the North Atlantic Regional championship this season, Cal (30-8) defeated Shippensburg and Gannon by identical 3-1 scores, before losing to host Wheeling Jesuit 3-1 to prevent the team from advancing to the Elite Eight.
Franz was named to the all-tournament team as she finished with 30 kills and six blocks.
“We reached the Sweet 16 and obviously, you don’t want to lose, but I felt good going in. We knew it would be a tough game. We played Wheeling Jesuit earlier in the year (Oct. 2) and we expected a hard-fought match,” said Franz. “Obviously, we would have liked to have gone to Florida (for the NCAA quarterfinals).”
Despite the loss to Wheeling Jesuit to close out the season, Franz still had a positive spin to the year, thanks to the All-America honor.
“It was definitely shocking, but a great way to end my career,” Franz said. “I told my family, ‘I’m not ending my career with a loss.’”