The reigning Honda Award Winner for National NCAA Volleyball Player of the Year Inky Ajanaku has signed her first professional contract to play with Volero Zurich, according to WorldofVolley. She is one of two high-powered young signings for the Swiss side, intended to replace two big outgoing transfer.
In fact, the swap is a near-perfect change: they’ve added one American and one Russian to replace one American and one Russian.
Ajanaku, who is 22 years old and 6’3″ (190cm) tall, finished a 5 year playing career at Stanford in the fall by captaining the youngest team in history to win an NCAA title. She stood out as a relatively short middle blocker on a roster that had 7 players standing 6’3″ or taller thanks in part to her big-time leaping ability.
Ajanaku averaged 3.74 points/set as a senior, down slightly from the the 4.13 she averaged as a junior before missing the 2015 season with an injury. She hit over .400 in three of her four collegiate seasons, averaging out to .413 in her collegiate career.
Ajanaku joined the USA Volleyball training camp that opened on Monday, though she’s listed as “rehabbing” on the current roster.
Also joining Zurich is 19-year old 6’4″ (193cm) Russian middle-blocker Angelina Lazarenko. Lazarenko spent last season in the second division of the Russian League with LUCH. Lazarenko spikes at 317cm (125″) and blocks at 302cm (118″). She holds promise as a member of the Russian team that won the 2015 European U18 title where she was named the MVP and best middle blocker.
Leaving the team will be American Foluke Akinradewo and Cuban Kenia Carcaces are both leaving the team for Japan, while Russian Ekaterina Orlova is rumored to be returning to Russia. The Cuban Carcaces has joined Japanese side Ageo Medics, who in the fall will begin their first season after promotion back to Japan’s V-League. The 31-year old Carcaces was a member of the Cuban National Team from 2006-2011 who played for her native country at the 2008 Olympics. She had 36% positive serve receipt in 2016-2017 for the Swiss Champions.
Akinradewo was a part of American medal-winning teams at both the 2012 (silver) and 2016 (bronze) Olympic Games and has spent the last 13 years with the U.S. National Team. She is expected to join the same camp as Ajanaku after completion of this week’s Club World Championships.
Akinradewo is also heading to Japan, where she will join the league’s top team Hisamitsu Springs.
Volero Zurich finished tied for 5th in the 2017 European Champions League last season, but still earned a wildcard spot for the Club World Championships. The above changesare not expected to be finalized until after the tournament. Zurich will open their run on Tuesday with a match against Turkey’s #2 team Eczavibasi VitrA.