Northwestern volleyball head coach Shane Davis announced today that seven new Wildcats will join the program in the Class of 2021.
The program reinforced its local presence. Five of the seven recruits are from Illinois or bordering Indiana and Wisconsin. Two are Chicago Public School products.
The seven signees are: Nia Robinson (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral), Lexi Pitsas (Munster, Ind./Munster), Britt Bommer (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa), Ivey Whalen (Eagle, Wis./Catholic Memorial), Danyelle Williams (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young), Alana Walker (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young), and Amy Wang (Palo Alto, Calif./Henry Gunn). The decorated players will join Northwestern for the 2017 season.
“We’re very excited about the amount of well-rounded volleyball players, team captains, MVPs, and proven winners we have coming here this upcoming season,” Davis said. “This class has a very high volleyball IQ, sound skillset, and team leadership and will immediately impact our gym. We expect this class to take Northwestern to new heights.”
Robinson was recently named the Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year and led Cathedral to back-to-back state championships. She has also earned numerous national plaudits, including being named an AVCA/Under Armour, MaxPreps, and PrepVolleyball All-American. The outside hitter is also a National Honor Society member and was named High Honor Roll in every semester.
Also joining the recruiting class is fellow Indianan Pitsas, a PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace and a three-time team MVP for the Munster Mustangs. The libero was a three-time All-Conference Team member and helped lead her team to a 121-26 record during her tenure.
The squad adds some west-coast talent with the addition of Bommer. The Manhattan Beach, California, native was a PrepVolleyball.com All-American and Daily Breeze High School Co-Player of the Year. Bommer is also exceptionally talented off the court, as she is a member of the Honor Roll, National Society of High School Scholars, and the National Youth Leadership Forum in Engineering and Technology.
Northwestern is adding a three-time state champion in Whalen. An Under Armour High School All-American, she led the Classic 8 Conference in kills and blocks for three-consecutive seasons. The 6-foot-3 outside hitter was also a 2017 PrepVolleyball.com All-American and a Daily Breeze High School Co-Player of the year. She comes from an accomplished athletic family, as her grandfather, Bill Iverson, played basketball and golf at Wisconsin and her great-uncle, Jim McAndrew, pitched for the 1969 World Champion New York Mets.
Chicago’s Big Ten Team is picking up another student with a strong athletic pedigree. Williams, a Chicago native, is the daughter of 15-year NBA veteran Aaron Williams. Danyelle Williams helped lead the Whitney Young Dolphins to a city, conference, and regional championship, and was named a Senior Ace by PrepVolleyball.com.
Her teammate at Whitney Young, Walker, will also be joining NU. In addition to helping the Dolphins to the aforementioned championships, she was named a 2016 Illinois All-Star Team captain and was named captain of the Illinois High School All-Star Team. Walker’s father, Antoine, won an NCAA Championship at Kentucky and an NBA Championship with the Miami Heat.
Finally, the ‘Cats are adding another California volleyball player in Wang. A two-year captain at Henry Gunn, she was a team-leader in kills her senior year and was a two-time All-League member. With Red Rock Volleyball Club, she helped lead the squad to an NCVA win and a third-place finish at the PNQ 18-Open Division in 2017. She also has experience playing with the 2016 USA Junior A1 Red Team.
Complete biographies of the seven signees are available below.
Indianapolis, Ind. // Cathedral // Munciana Volleyball Club
High School: Played varsity volleyball four years and was named team captain senior year under head coach Jean Kesterson … Cathedral record holder in kills … Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year winner … The Fighting Irish were 2014 state finalists, 2015 state and national champions, and 2016 state champions … Named AVCA/Under Armour, MaxPreps, and PrepVolleyball All-American … 2017 PrepVolleyball.com Academic All-American … 4A All-State player in 2015 and 2016 … All-City in 2014, 2015, and 2016 … Competed in 2015 and 2016 High School All-Star Game … Competed for Munciana club team for four years … Named AAU All American … Twice named AVCA/MaxPreps.com Indiana Player of the Week … Made High Honor Roll every semester … National Honor Society.
Personal: Born Nia Joyce Parker-Robinson … Daughter of Cynthia and Howard Robinson … Father played in the NBA … Anticipated major is biology/pre-med.
Says Davis: “Nia has all the skill and athleticism needed to be successful at the college level, and she has shown that throughout her club and high school career. She has a big-time leadership role on her club and high school teams, and has experienced championship-level success, with the most recent being the 2016 Indiana State Championship. She’s exceptionally explosive and controls the ball well, which is a must for every outside hitter we bring in.”
Munster, Ind. // Munster // Ignite Volleyball Club
High School: Four-year letter winner, including two years as captain, under head coach Tracy Summers … Three-time team MVP for the Mustangs and finished her high school career with 1,275 digs, 1,737 serve receives, and 232 kills … Team went 121-26 during her tenure, won sectionals in 2014 and 2016, and was a semi-state finalist in 2013 … Earned 2016 Second-Team Academic All-State plaudits and was named to the All-Conference Team three times (2014-16) …PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace … Four-time scholar athlete award (2013-16) … Was an Indiana 4A North/South All-Star in 2015 … Received team Iron Man Award four times (2013-16) … With her club team Epic United VBC, she was named to All-Tournament Teams in 2014 (USAV) and 2015 (AAU).
Personal: Born Alexia Nicole Pitsas … Daughter of Marylin and Nick Pitsas … Older sister, Elaine, was a four-year letterman at Ball State (swimming) … Mentored by Carey (Nostrant) Yukich, who was a member of the Northwestern volleyball team from 1989-91 … Played against fellow 2017 recruit Nia Parker-Robinson in Indiana 4A North vs. South All-Star Game … Anticipated major is undecided.
Says Davis: “Lexi is a fast and athletic libero that has great court presence and instinct. She is a lot of fun to watch, with still a lot of room to grow as a volleyball player which is exciting. Lexi plays for one of the top junior clubs in Indiana, so she is used to the level of competition that we expect in our gym and we think she will settle in right away.”
Manhattan Beach, Calif. // Mira Costa // Sunshine Volleyball Club
High School: Played volleyball four years under head coach Hayley Blanchard … Named All-Area and All-Conference in 2015 … The Mustangs were the Bay League Champions in 2015 … Named to the All-Tournament Team at the Anna Kang Invitational and the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions … PrepVolleyball.com All-American … Daily Breeze HS Co-Player of the Year … All CIF Southern Section Division 1 Selection … Competed for Sunshine club team for four years … Also played beach volleyball … Member of Honor Roll, National Society of High School Scholars, and National Youth Leadership Forum: Engineering & Technology … Was a People to People ambassador to Australia.
Personal: Daughter of Jennifer and Terry Bommer … Father played college football and baseball at University of California, Santa Barbara … Anticipated major is biological sciences.
Says Davis: “Britt is a very experienced and successful setter. She is someone who can make plays with her physical abilities and is benefited greatly by her understanding of the game. We’re very excited to have her as a part of our program.”
Eagle, Wis. // Catholic Memorial // Fusion Volleyball Club
High School: Played all four years and was a captain for head coach Ted Schulte … The Crusaders won the State Championship in 2014, 2015 and 2016 … State Championship Match MVP in 2015 and 2016 … Classic 8 Conference Leader in kills and blocks for 2014, 2015, and 2016 …PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace … Under Armour High School All-American … Named to Under Armour Watch List in 2016 … All-State Second Team 2015 … 2017 PrepVolleyball.com All-American … Daily Breeze HS Co-Player of the Year … All-Southern Section Division 1 Selection … All-Tournament Player Award for the 2015 Wisconsin State Tournament … All-State Honorable Mention 2014 … All-State First Team in 2016 … All-Conference First Team in 2016 … All-Area Honorable Mention 2014 … All-Conference Honorable Mention 2014 … made honor roll all four years … National Honor Society member.
Personal: Born Ivey Lyn Whalen … Daughter of Teri and Rick Whalen … Dad played baseball at the University of Arizona … Grandfather, Bill Iversen, played basketball and golf at the University of Wisconsin … Uncle, Turner Baur, played football at Stanford … Great-uncle, Jim McAndrew, pitched for the 1969 World Series Champion Mets … Has played piano since age seven … Anticipated major is undecided.
Says Davis: “Ivey is another player who will come here with a championship under her belt after having recently won the 2016 Wisconsin State Championship. With her size and athleticism, Ivey will be an immediate asset to our program. She has a great all-around skill set and will make our gym better right away.”
Chicago, Ill. // Whitney Young // 1st Alliance Volleyball Club
High School: Played four years of volleyball under head coach Jamie Walters … Helped lead Dolphins to a city, conference, and regional championship … Played with fellow recruit Alana Walker … Named one of ten Senior Aces by PrepVolleyball.com … Also played four years of varsity basketball … Led the Dolphin basketball team to a Regional Championship and was selected All-State … Honor Roll.
Personal: Born Danyelle Nicole Williams … Daughter of Heather and Evanston native and former NBA power-forward Aaron Williams … Her father played collegiately at Xavier and for 10 different NBA teams from 1993-2008 … Anticipated major is business.
Says Davis: “Danyelle is an athletic pin hitter with a lot of range at which she can attack. Her quickness off the ground will make her a dynamic blocker and attacker at this level. Although newer to the game, Danyelle’s competitiveness and passion will drive her growth and improvement.”
Chicago, Ill. // Whitney Young // 1st Alliance Volleyball Club
High School: Played four years and was named team captain under head coach Jamie Walters … Helped lead Dolphins to a city, conference, and regional championship … PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace … JVA Watch List … 2016 Illinois All-Star Team Captain … Played with fellow recruit Danyelle Williams … Beverly Review MVP … Named Captain of Illinois High School All-Star Team … Played for 1st Alliance club team for three years … Qualified for nationals … Honor Roll … National Honor Society.
Personal: Born Alana M. Walker … Daughter of Donna Grant and former NBA All-Star and Chicago native Antoine Walker … Father won a NCAA Championship at Kentucky and an NBA Championship with the Miami Heat … Anticipated major is communications.
Says Davis: “Alana is an extremely dynamic volleyball player who moves exceptionally well. We were really struck by her great blocking instincts and are looking forward to watching her develop. She is a natural leader and a natural winner and we are very excited for her future.”
Palo Alto, Calif. // Henry Gunn // Red Rock Volleyball Club
High School: Played for four years, including two years as a captain … Helped lead the Titans to a league championship in 2017 … Led team in kills senior year; top-three in league in assists, digs, and aces junior year … All-League junior and senior year … Team MVP for Henry Gunn senior year … With Red Rock Volleyball Club, won NCVA and came in third at PNQ 18-Open Division in 2017 … 2016 USA Junior A1 Red Team … Recipient of chemistry honors award.
Personal: Born Amy Aiwen Wang in Beijing, China … Daughter of Jenny Zhang and Fei Wang … Played violin for eight years … Anticipated major is undecided.
Says Davis: “Amy is another great libero that is joining our program. She will add great court awareness, attitude, and presence to our gym. Her experience with the USA High Performance program is a valuable asset for her and will be great for our program.”