Former Doherty standout Haleigh Washington named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year

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Photo - Penn State's Micha Hancock (12) and Haleigh Washington (15) block a shot by BYU during the NCAA women's volleyball tournament championship match in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. Penn State won in three sets. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Penn State's Micha Hancock (12) and Haleigh Washington (15) block a shot by BYU during the NCAA women's volleyball tournament championship match in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. Penn State won in three sets. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

There's a famous saying on Penn State's campus that has become synonymous with the women's volleyball team's constant success on the national level.

"Russ knows volleyball," - paying homage to the Nittany Lions' hall of fame coach Russ Rose.

But if you're from Colorado Springs, there's another saying that might come to mind.

Haleigh knows volleyball, too.

Haleigh Washington, a 2014 Doherty graduate, was named the 2017 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, announced by the conference this afternoon, adding just one more accolade to her successful tenure in a Penn State uniform.

The 6-foot-3 middle blocker was named Big Ten Player of the Week 10 times this season, and is only the third Penn State student to earn Defensive Player of the Year accolades, and the first since 2011.

Washington, a senior, leads the nation with a .515 hitting percentage. She's started in all 30 matches this season, aiding the Lions to a 29-1 record and a share of the Big Ten title. She is second on the team with 314 kills and tops the team with 156 blocks.

Washington won 2014 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was a unanimous All-Big Ten selection her sophomore and junior seasons.

Prior to her success at the Division I level, Washington was named the 2012-2013 Gazette Preps Girls' Athlete of the Year as a junior, a two-time Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year from 2013-2013, an Under Armour First Team All-American selection in 2013-2014, and much, much more.

But Washington is not the only local volleyball prodigy to be donning Penn State's blue and white this postseason. 2017 Lewis-Palmer graduate Michaela Putnicki played in three matches this season as a freshman outside hitter and has six kills for the Nittany Lions.

Washington, Putnicki and the Nittany Lions move on to the 2017 NCAA women's volleyball tournament for the program's 28th consecutive appearance. Penn State earned the No. 1 overall seed and will host the first round on Dec. 1.

Pittsburgh (25-6) and VCU (30-2) will open at 5 p.m., followed by a 7:30 p.m. match featuring Penn State vs. Howard (16-15)