University of Minnesota volleyball head coach Hugh McCutcheon has announced his recruiting class, featuring six individuals set to join the 2017 Gopher volleyball team. Gopher Volleyball welcomes Lauren Barnes (Naperville, Ill.), Sydney Kleinman (Frisco, Texas), Jasmyn Martin (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), Sara Nielsen (Glen Ellyn, Ill.), Stephanie Samedy (Clermont, Fla.) and Alice Zeimann (Christchurch, New Zealand) to the program.
“We are so excited to welcome this wonderful group of student-athletes to the Golden Gopher Volleyball program,” McCutcheon said. “It’s a class with a vast amount of depth, talent and character. They will be great representatives of this program and our University.”
Barnes, a 5-foot, 6-inch defensive specialist plays with Benet Academy and 1st Alliance Volleyball Club. A Prepvolleyball.com Preseason All-American, Barnes was named a 2016 all-conference selection her in senior year. The starting libero for Benet, Barnes helped the team win the conference in 2015 and the regional championship both her junior and senior seasons. As a senior, Barnes has 486 digs (through 38 matches) and served at 93 percent. Along with her club teams, Lions Junior and 1st Alliance, Barnes served as team captain and starting libero each year. She also played hockey for 12 seasons, most recently with Chicago Mission AAA Girls, but stopped playing to focus on volleyball. The daughter of Lee and Michaeline Barnes, Lauren has landed on the honor roll every semester and is interested in majoring in business.
“I knew Minnesota was the place for me as soon as I visited campus,” Barnes said. I found everything I hoped for in a school: great academics great coaches and a great team culture.”
“Lauren is a tenacious defender and has good ball control,” McCutcheon said. “Her grit and work ethic are a great fit for our program!”
Kleinman, a 6-foot, 2-inch outside hitter plays for Wakeland High School and Dallas Skyline Juniors Volleyball. A Second Team Under Armour All-American, Kleinman is also ranked 44th in Prepvolleyball.com’s Senior Aces. Prior to the start of her senior season, Kleinman was named to the Texas Association of Volleyball Coaches Pre-Season All-Texas Team. In her final year with Wakeland, she has 567 kills, hitting .315 and has 293 digs (as of Nov. 4). Kleinman was a two-time all-state selection, a four-time all-conference and Wakeland’s Most Valuable Player in 2015. With Skyline, Kleinman was on the 2015 and 2016 all-tournament team at Nationals and was a part of the 2014 USAV National Championship team. The daughter of Theodore and D’Ann Kleinman, Sydney is interested in majoring in business law.
“I am so excited to be a Golden Gopher,” Kleinman said. “I am looking forward to be coached by Hugh McCutcheon and being a part of not only a winning program, but a great group of ladies. I’m also excited to see the snow!”
“Sydney can play the whole game,” McCutcheon said. She has great ball control and a ton of offensive range. Sydney also has a great serve and works hard on defense. We are extremely excited to have her joining our program in 2017!”
Martin, a 6-foot, 3-inch outside hitter, plays for Hopkins High School and Minnesota Select Volleyball. A Second Team Under Armour All-American, Martin is ranked 16th overall in Prepvolleyball.com Senior Aces. A starter with Hopkins since eighth grade, Martin is a four-year all-conference honoree. After missing most of 2015 due to an injury, Martin came back and became a 2016 all-state and first team all-metro selection. Voted the team’s best offensive player for four seasons, Martin averages 6.0 kills per set and is hitting .416 this year. As the team enters the Minnesota State tournament, Martin helped Hopkins to an undefeated conference championship this year. A Ms. Baden Volleyball finalist, Martin is also a Prepvolleyball.com and MaxPreps All-American. In club play, Martin was a 2014 USAV and AAU national champion with Northern Lights and a 2016 USAV national champion and AAU runner-up with Minnesota Select. The daughter of Tracey and Tracy Martin, Jasmyn has been on the honor roll during each year of high school. She is set to graduate in December, will join the Gophers in January, and is interested in majoring in business.
“The coaches, players, conference, fans, education and beautiful city are all aspects that made me fall in love with Gopher Volleyball,” Martin said. “The culture of success, both on and off the court, and the family atmosphere were all reasons why I chose this program!”
“Jaz is a wonderful volleyball player,” McCutcheon said. She is an exceptional attacker, blocker and she has great feel underhand. She can serve well and defend and will be a great addition to our program. We’re always happy when the best players in the State want to compete at the U!”
Nielsen, a 5-foot, 11-inch setter plays for Benet Academy and Mizuno Sports Performance Volleyball. Named a 2016 Under Armour All-America honorable mention, Nielsen was also ranked 69th in Prepvolleyball.com’s Senior Aces. A first-team all-state selection, Nielsen helped Benet to sectional and conference championships in 2015 and a regional championship in 2016. An all-conference selection in both 2016 and 2015, she also garnered honorable mention as a sophomore, when the team won the state title. As a senior, Nielsen has 968 assists, 122 digs, 28 aces, 26 blocks and 63 kills. She enters her fifth year at Sports Performance where she is coming off an 18-Open national championship, a world championship and was a 2015 AAU All-American. She also played in the European Global Challenge with the U22 BIP Midwest Team in Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. The daughter of Rob Nielsen, Gwen Nielsen and Chris Gambol, Sara is an honor roll student and is interested in business.
“Minnesota hit every benchmark for me: great coaches, great teammates and a great environment,” Nielsen said.
“Sara Nielsen can flat out dish the rock,” McCutcheon said. “She is a very smart and talented setter, who is a great fit for our offense and our culture. We could not be happier with her decision to join us here at Minnesota.”
Samedy, a 6-foot, 2-inch right side hitter, plays for East Ridge High School and Top Select Volleyball Academy. Ranked as the No. 5 overall recruit by Prepvolleyball.com, Samedy was also named a First Team Under Armour All-American. Playing with the USA Youth National Team and USA Junior National Team, Samedy was also a two-time AAU Junior National All-American her sophomore and junior seasons, while she also garnered all-tournament honors in 2016. Samedy was awarded the U14, U16 and U18 Elite team’s Most Valuable Player. With the 16 Elite, she helped the team to a second-place finish in the ESPN Wide World of Sports and won the Mid East qualifier. She was also was named a two-time Bright House Breakfast of Champions Girls Volleyball Athlete of the Year (Central Florida) and a Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-American. As a senior, the two-time Lake County Player of the Year is hitting .391, has 424 kills, 189 digs, 38 aces and 25 block. The daughter of Francine Samedy and Ronald Samedy, Stephanie has been on the honor roll all four years.
“I chose the University of Minnesota because it felt like a place I could call home for the next four years,” Samedy said. “I fell in love with the campus, the academics and especially the team and the coaching staff! I truly believe Minnesota is a place where I can thrive and prosper as a player, as a student and as a person.”
“Stephanie is a very complete volleyball player,” She can attack in multiple zones at multiple tempos and she is a very strong blocker. Stephanie can serve and defend and is rightfully considered one of the top recruits in the country. She’ll be a great Gopher!”
Zeimann, a 6-foot outside hitter, plays for Burnside High School and Shirley Volleyball Club. Zeimann is a two-time New Zealand Senior Women’s Team member, a two-time U17 New Zealand member and a competitor with numerous New Zealand U17 and U19 Beach Volleyball teams. She has also competed in the Youth and Junior Asian Championships in 2014 (Taiwan and Thailand), the USA High Performance Championships in 2013 (Florida) in indoor volleyball. She also competed with the U21 beach volleyball team’s USA Tour and U19’s Asian and World Championships in 2015 and 2016, where she won silver at the Asian Beach championship this year. Zeimann also garnered Sportswoman of the Year in back-to-back years (2014 and 2015), presented by Marriotts Hadlee Sports Awards. The daughter of Ruth Seeman, Alice is an outstanding student, receiving numerous academic awards including merit endorsements, honor rolls, and excellence endorsements. She is interested in majoring in journalism and is expected to join the Gopher program this January.
“Choosing the University of Minnesota was an easy decision for me,” Zeimann said. “The great team culture and competitive atmosphere was exactly what I was looking for in an amazing college experience. With Coach McCutcheon being from my hometown, he is the stuff of local legend and I feel very honored to be able to learn from him and his great coaching staff.”
“Alice is a very accomplished international volleyball player, both indoors and on the beach,” McCutcheon said. We are so excited that she’s bringing her complete game to Minnesota. Alice knows how to work hard and she loves to battle – she’s a great fit for us and we could not be more excited to have her join our program.”