College volleyball coaches around the country took a few moments out of their busy in-season schedules to celebrate the signing of their first 2015 recruits Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period.
No. 11 Nebraska netted four recruits, on native Nebraskan and three out-of-state stars. Head coach John Cook touted the impressive arm swing of middle blocker Mikaela Folcke, a 6’3″ Fort Madison, Iowa, standout, while Tiani Reeves, a Gothenburg, Nebraska, track and volleyball star, brings her raw athleticism to Lincoln. Kenzie Maloney (Louisville, Kentucky) and Brooke Smith (Weatherford, Texas) will look to compete for the libero and setter spots, respectively, next season.
Colorado State, currently ranked No. 9, brought in two local Colorado recruits on the first day of the early signing period. Kirstie Hillyer, a 6’6″ middle blocker helped lead her Bayfield High School team to four 3A state tournaments going undefeated all four years in the Intermountain League competition. Jessica Jackson will leave Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver as the all-times kills leader with 1,435 and with two track letters. She helped lead her team to the 2013 4A state tournament.
Louisville, a program struggling this year with a 6-7 conference record and ranked 86th in RPI after making the NCAA tournament every year since 1997, looks to bring in some talent to revive the program. Jasmine Bennett, the 2014 Region I Kentucky Player of the Year, comes to Louisville after a strong high school and club record as a middle blocker, including a third place finish at AAU Nationals earlier this year. Another Kentucky native Molly Sauer is a product of the volleyball powerhouse Assumption High School in Louisville. The three-time team captain helped lead her squad to two state championships as a libero. Texans Aniah Hatfield-Philo and Morgan Miller complete the signing group with Hatfield-Philo boasting a USAV Junior Nationals Championship as an outside hitter and Miller a setter and honorable mention Under Armour All-American who earned Prep Volleyball Senior Ace honors.
The 18-1 Texas Longhorns locked in three recruits for the 2015 season: Micaya White, Yaazie Bedart-Ghani,and Morgan Johnson. White, a No. 4 Prep Volleyball Senior Ace is an Under Armour All-American and made an appearance on VBM‘s 30 Underclassmen to Watch list. Bedart-Ghani stands 6’4″ and is also an All-American and Underclassman to Watch, who could see playing time on the outside or right side for Texas. Johnson, a middle, fills out the signing group, bringing high-level club experience, including a Junior Nationals crown.
Florida, whose recruiting classes in 2013 and 2014 have been some of the strongest in the nation, added 6’2″ middle blocker Taelor Kellum to the 2015 roster. The Signal Mountain High School (Chattanooga, Tennessee) captain led her team to the Class AA state championship match and was a VBM Underclassman to Watch earlier in the year. Kellum will graduate high school early and enroll at Florida in the spring.
No. 16 Purdue added two high school All-Americans for 2015. Outside hitter Alexa Smith of Monument, Colorado, has U.S. Youth and Junior National Team experience and was Prep Volleyball’s 2013-14 National Player of the Year. Hailing from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Blake Mohler will vie for a spot in the middle for the Boilermakers next year. The 6’2″ senior holds her high school’s record for kills and solo blocks. Purdue head coach Dave Shondell says that two additional recruits will join the signing class at a later date.
Wisconsin, whose remarkable 2013 national runner-up season and so-far-so-good 2014 season in which the team stands 23-2 and is ranked No. 4 in the nation has attracted much media attention has also garnered the interest of some of the nation’s top recruits. Six young women, all ranked in the top 100 in their class by Prep Volleyball signed to Wisconsin Wednesday, with only one hailing from outside the Midwest. That player, Amber MacDonald, a 5’4″ libero from Alpharetta, Georgia, will look to join the strong Wisconsin defensive effort. Middle blockers Brooke Morgan (Dike, Iowa) and Tionna Williams (Fort Wayne, Indiana) will compete for the position that will be vacated by current senior Dominique Thompson. Coach Kelly Sheffield recruited Williams when he was still at Dayton and she followed him in the move to Wisconsin. Madison Duello, a 6’3″ outside hitter from Kansas City, Missouri, could be the answer to the graduation of current team kills leader Ellen Chapman, while 5’10” setter Hannah Juley, sister of current Badger Erin Juley, will train under All-American sophomore setter Lauren Carlini.
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Photo cred: Volleywood.net