In second year as assistant at Western ... Completing master's degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences ... Had standout career as middle blocker at Portland State University ... Finished fifth among school's career leaders in block assists (348) and sixth in total blocks (401) ... Three-year starter, helping PSU to Big Sky Conference regular-season titles in 2007 and 2009, and the Big Sky Championship in 2008 that resulted in school's first appearance in NCAA Division I Tournament ... Second-team all-conference pick as senior ... Played on teams that had four-year record of 83-32 ... Maintained 3.97 grade point average at PSU, twice earning ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII first-team honors ... Sister of Western volleyball player Emily Jepsen ... Married former Portland State track and field athlete Keith Bjella in June.
A Bright Future Lies Ahead For Erica Jepsen
Written by: Ryan Borde
Erica Jepsen leaves Portland State University fifth all-time in block assists and sixth all-time in total blocks.
For most student-athletes, when their career as a collegiate athlete is winding down, it is a bittersweet time. They are sad to say goodbye to something they have put their time and effort into for the past four years, but also excited for what the future may bring.
Portland State fans don't have to look far to see the perfect example of that in volleyball player Erica Jepsen. The middle blocker from Kennewick, Washington helped put Viking volleyball back on the map and leaves with some outstanding personal and team accomplishments. Yet, Jepsen has much to look forward to, starting with her wedding this summer.
Jepsen and former PSU track and field athlete Keith Bjella were married on June 19 in the Portland area. She also was will be attending graduate school at Western Washington, and plans to further her education in the field of speech and language pathology.
"I feel blessed that I have had such awesome experiences here at Portland State, yet I'm also looking forward to more awesome things to come," said Jepsen.
A three-year starter for the Vikings in the middle, Jepsen helped the team capture the 2007 and 2009 Big Sky regular season titles, and the 2008 Big Sky Championship. The 2008 title propelled PSU into the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time in school history.
There is no doubt that Jepsen's play at the net was instrumental in Portland State's success the past four years. She was a second team all-conference selection this fall, and leaves the Park Blocks fifth all-time in block assists with 348, and sixth in total blocks with 401. Ask her about her accomplishments and she deflects the talk back to her teammates.
"Our class left something behind and we built a good foundation for the future. We are all proud of what our class has accomplished."
Jepsen and the other four seniors on this year's team went 83-32 over the past four years. After winning the regular season title this year, the Vikings were favorites to go to the NCAAs again, but were upset in the conference tournament championship match.
"Looking back over the past four years, not many people have had the great experiences that our senior class has had," Jepsen said. "I look at it holistically as far as what we have accomplished, as opposed to the last game."
With her last season in the books, Jepsen is concentrating on finishing up her degree in speech and hearing sciences. She will walk this spring with a cumulative grade point average of 3.97. Her hard work in the classroom twice earned her ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII first team honors. She is just one of three players in Portland State volleyball history to earn first team recognition, and is the second to earn the prestigious award twice.
Her success on the court and in the classroom was no accident. Jepsen put in many hours hitting the books and practicing the game she loves.
Said Jepsen: "You go out and you make things happen. My four years here have been amazing academically, athletically and socially. I studied when I had time ... and there wasn't much time between practices and games. You just have to learn to stay on top of things."
Head Coach Michael Seemann says Jepsen is the perfect role model for other student-athletes on campus.
"Erica defines what it means to be a student-athlete at Portland State," said Seemann. "She took every opportunity at this institution and turned it into a success. She brought a consistent work ethic to the training environment and in the classroom and it payed off in so many ways.
"When you ask her what she will miss about being a student-athlete, she will tell you that she misses her teammates the most. She invested in her team and staff, and was able to get the most out of those around her. Erica is one of a kind and will be missed at Portland State."
Jepsen packed a lot info her four years at Portland State and always came out successful. To see why, all you have to do is read her own words: "You go out and you make things happen." With that motto in mind, the future looks bright for her as she moves on to the next chapter in her life.
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