LINCOLN, Neb. – Five student-athletes will join the Nebraska volleyball program next fall, Head Coach John Cook announced on Wednesday, Nov. 9, the first day of the National Letter of Intent signing period.
Four of the five players in Nebraska’s 2017 class come from the Midwest, and four of the five received Under Armour All-America recognition or honorable mention this fall.
Malcolm native Hayley Densberger will join the Husker program, along with three players from neighboring states – Jazz Sweet (Tecumseh, Kansas), Samantha Slaughter (Harrisburg, South Dakota) and Anezka Szabo (Sioux Falls, South Dakota). Nebraska also signed Chesney McClellan from Maryville, Tennessee. Only one letterwinner in Nebraska volleyball’s history – Rachel Holloway – has come from Tennessee, though the Huskers have benefitted from two transfers from Tennessee recently in Kelsey Robinson and Mary Pollmiller.
“It’s a big recruiting class, but we’re graduating four seniors,” Cook said. “The upside potential for this class is huge. We’ve addressed positions that we need, which would be opposite the setter, middle blocker, defensive specialist and outside hitter. We feel like we got one at each position, and that was really important.
“All of these student-athletes are embracing the opportunity to play at Nebraska. They’re going to thrive off the expectations, the environment and the culture that we have and add to it. They understand what this program is about. I feel like we’re sitting on lots of potential through their development as they go through the Nebraska program.”
Sweet, a 6-3 hitter from Tecumseh, Kansas, is ranked the No. 12 overall prospect in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com and was named an Under Armour first-team All-American. A lefty with the natural ability to play right-side hitter, Sweet led Shawnee Heights to the Kansas 5A state title as a senior, posting 478 kills, 284 digs, 84 blocks and 41 aces on the season. She has received Kansas Volleyball Association Class 5A first-team all-state honors twice and also has been named the Topeka Capital-Journal city player of the year twice. Sweet played her club volleyball for Topeka Impact and is also a standout basketball player for the Thunderbirds, earning first-team all-state honors last year.
McClellan, a 6-4 middle blocker from Maryville, Tennessee, was ranked 26th overall by PrepVolleyball.com and was also selected as an Under Armour first-team All-American along with Sweet. McClellan finished her high school career at Maryville High School by leading the Rebels to a 30-12 record and a district semifinal appearance with 288 kills, 77 blocks and a .511 hitting percentage. She was selected to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Class AAA all-state team as a junior after leading her then-high school Bearden to the Class AAA state quarterfinals with 388 kills and 124 blocks. McClellan played club volleyball for K2, and one of her former club coaches was Pollmiller, who transferred from Tennessee to Nebraska to be the Huskers’ starting setter in 2013 and 2014.
Szabo is a 6-3 hitter from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, although she plays middle blocker for Lincoln High School and has posted 383 kills, 269 digs, 110 blocks and 41 aces as a senior for the Patriots. Another left-hander, Szabo received Under Armour All-America honorable mention and was ranked the No. 34 prospect by PrepVolleyball.com. Szabo was a second-team all-state selection after her junior season in which she totaled 240 kills, 220 digs, 134 blocks and 37 aces. She played club volleyball for Kairos Elite and is also a standout high jumper and triple jumper for Lincoln, finishing fourth in the high jump at the state meet as a sophomore. Her father, Brett Szabo, played for the Boston Celtics in 1996-97.
Slaughter is a 6-1 outside hitter/middle blocker from Harrisburg, South Dakota. An Under Armour third-team All-American, Slaughter has led Harrisburg High School to a 20-2 record as a senior with 365 kills, 261 digs and 64 blocks. Slaughter was a first-team all-state selection after her junior season and played club volleyball for Kairos Elite, along with Szabo. Slaughter also played basketball for Harrisburg and was a member of the Class AA all-state tournament team last season.
Densberger is a 5-9 defensive specialist/libero from Malcolm High School in Malcolm, Nebraska. She plays outside hitter for the Clippers and has helped them reach the Class C1 state tournament with a 32-0 record this season with 285 kills, 226 digs and 57 aces. Densberger plays club volleyball for VCNebraska under former Husker Maggie Griffin and was named an All-American at the AAU national tournament in June after leading her 17-and-under team to a runner-up finish in the Premier Division. Densberger earned all-state honorable mention at Malcolm last season and also plays basketball for the Clippers.
2017 Nebraska Volleyball Signing Class
|Student-Athlete||Position||Height||Hometown (High School)|
|Hayley Densberger||DS/L||5-9||Malcolm, Neb. (Malcolm)|
|Chesney McClellan||MB||6-4||Maryville, Tenn. (Maryville)|
|Samantha Slaughter||OH||6-1||Harrisburg, S.D. (Harrisburg)|
|Jazz Sweet||OH||6-3||Tecumseh, Kan. (Shawnee Heights)|
|Anezka Szabo||OH||6-3||Sioux Falls, S.D. (Lincoln)|
Hayley Densberger, 5-9, DS/L, Malcolm, Neb. (Malcolm)
– Will join the Husker volleyball program from Malcolm High School in Nebraska
– Played outside hitter for the Clippers but projects as a defensive specialist/libero at the college level
– Has helped Malcolm to a 32-0 record this season and a berth in the Class C1 state tournament this Thursday
– Earned Class C1 all-state honorable mention following her junior season
– As a senior, has totaled 285 kills, 226 digs and 57 aces while hitting .324
– Played club volleyball for VCNebraska and was named an All-American at the AAU national tournament in June of 2016 after leading her team to a runner-up finish in the Premier Division
– Also played basketball at Malcolm
Coach Cook: “Hayley is continuing the tradition of recruiting role players from the state of Nebraska. She could go hit at a Division II school, but we’re going to use her in an Anni (Albrecht) or Sydney (Townsend) role. We feel like she could become an excellent defensive player, passer and server. She has a chance to get playing time and have a major role down the road.”
Chesney McClellan, 6-4, MB, Maryville, Tenn. (Maryville)
– Will join the Huskers from Maryville High School in Maryville, Tennessee
– Played at Bearden High School in Knoxville before transferring to Maryville for her senior season
– Received Under Armour first-team All-America honors in 2016
– Ranked the No. 26 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com
– Selected to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Class AAA all-state team following her junior season
– Helped Maryville to a 30-12 record and a district semifinal appearance as a senior
– In 2016, led the Rebels with 288 kills, 77 blocks and a .511 hitting percentage
– As a junior at Bearden, led the 22-16 Bulldogs to the Class AAA state quarterfinals with 388 kills, 124 blocks and a .428 hitting percentage
– Played club volleyball for K2
– One of her former club coaches at K2 was former Husker setter Mary Pollmiller, who played at Tennessee before transferring to Nebraska
Coach Cook: “Chesney was the first commit in this class. She had one of the most classic verbal commitments ever by showing up a week earlier than she was supposed to visit and suprising us. She’s a 6-4 middle who jumps really well and plays in a great club program. She’s going to be very well trained and will have a chance to play as a freshman. That’s not somebody we anticipate redshirting. She’s still blossoming as a player as well.”
Samantha Slaughter, 6-1, OH, Harrisburg, S.D. (Harrisburg)
– Will join the Huskers from Harrisburg High School in South Dakota
– Played both outside hitter and middle blocker at Harrisburg
– Received Under Armour third-team All-America honors in 2016
– Was a South Dakota first-team all-state selection after her junior season in 2015
– Has led Harrisburg to a 20-2 record as a senior in 2016 with 365 kills, 261 digs and 64 blocks, and will play a state tournament qualifier this Thursday night
– Surpassed 1,000 career kills as a senior and is the school’s career record holder
– Played club volleyball for Kairos Elite
– Also played basketball at Harrisburg and was a member of the 2016 Class AA all-state tournament team
Coach Cook: “Sam was a late addition for us. She was committed to Creighton as a middle blocker, and she changed her mind and wanted to play outside hitter. She reopened her recruiting process, and we were in need of an outside hitter and had an opening. We had followed her in club and she was in our camp with her high school team, so we went through the recruiting process with her and re-evaluated her during the high school season. She’s a raw athlete, a great basketball player and does track. Sam’s got a big arm. She’s a former middle blocker so she’s got good instincts blocking. She’s somebody that we’re going to invest heavily in developing her and see where she can go.”
Jazz Sweet, 6-3, OH, Tecumseh, Kan. (Shawnee Heights)
– A native of Tecumseh, Kansas, will join the Husker volleyball program from Shawnee Heights High School
– Earned Under Armour first-team All-America honors in 2016
– Ranked the No. 12 overall prospect in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com
– As a left-handed player, projects as a right-side hitter for the Huskers
– Led Shawnee Heights to the Kansas 5A state title as a senior – the program’s first in 16 years – after finishing third in 2014 and 2015
– In her senior season, recorded 478 kills, 284 digs, 84 blocks and 41 aces for the 38-6 Thunderbirds
– Received Kansas Volleyball Association Class 5A first-team all-state honors after her sophomore and junior seasons
– Named the Topeka Capital-Journal city player of the year as both a sophomore and junior
– Played club volleyball for Topeka Impact
– Was also a standout basketball player for Shawnee Heights, earning first-team all-state honors as a junior and second-team accolades as a sophomore
– Has earned a 4.0 GPA in high school and is interested in Nebraska’s dental college
– Full first name is Jzanasia (ja-NAY-shuh)
Coach Cook: “Jazz was a very important recruit for us in that she’s a lefty and we think she can be a six-rotation player. She’s another really good basketball player and she’s going to have an opportunity to start as a freshman and we’ve been talking to her about that. She needs to come in and be ready to compete and play as a freshman. We just like that she can do everything. She’s a smooth athlete.”
Anezka Szabo, 6-3, OH, Sioux Falls, S.D. (Lincoln)
– Pronounced ah-NESH-kah ZAY-bo
– Will join the Husker volleyball program from Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
– Was a left-handed middle blocker for Lincoln but projects as a right-side hitter for the Huskers
– Received Under Armour All-America honorable mention in 2016
– Ranked the No. 34 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com
– Was a South Dakota second-team all-state selection as a junior in 2015 after totaling 240 kills, 220 digs, 134 blocks and 37 aces
– In her senior season, has amassed 383 kills, 269 digs, 110 blocks and 41 aces heading into the Patriots’ state tournament qualifier on Thursday night
– Played club volleyball for Kairos Elite
– Also competed in track and field – including the triple jump and high jump – taking fourth place in the high jump at the 2014 Class AA state meet
– Father, Brett Szabo, played for the Boston Celtics in 1996-97
Coach Cook: “Anezka is a very interesting prospect. The volleyball is a little bit behind in South Dakota, but she’s a 6-3 lefty who jumps really well. We’ve had her in camp, and we’re hoping that she’s a diamond in the rough. She has the potential to blossom into a nice player. The one thing she does exceptionally well is block. People will notice that right away. She has a chance to be a great blocker.”