Three Wisconsin freshmen volleyball players will enroll in school in the spring semester of 2017 that begins in just under 3 weeks. Dana Rettke, Mariah Whalen, and Sydney Hilley all graduated high school early and will begin class on January 17th, giving them an extra semester to train with their team before the formal NCAA women’s indoor season starts next fall.
The group are 3 of the 5 signees in Wisconsin’s incoming class. The Badgers will need those reinforcements ready to perform immediately after big losses this off-season. The team’s top two setters, including the best in the NCAA Lauren Carlini, are both gone, but the top setter in the high school class Hilley will try and fill that spot in a hurry.
The Badgers also graduate All-American middle blocker Haleigh Nelson and starting hitter Romana Kriskova, and Rettke and Whalen will be among the players vying to fill in those spots.
Rettke, at 6’8″, will be the tallest player to ever play for Wisconsin. She hails from Riverside Illinois where she was a 2015 first-team all-state selection.
“What jumps out at most people is Dana’s height, but what jumps out to me is her athleticism,” Sheffield said. “She moves her feet really well and is a really nice slide attacker with a high contact point. She’s only touching the surface as far as how good she could be.”
Rettke has the size that has a chance to match strength-on-strength against the defending NCAA Champions from Stanford – one of the tallest teams in NCAA history.
Whalen is a 6’1″ outside hitter from Wausau, Wisconsin, who led Newman Catholic High School to 4 straight state champions. Ranked #37 by PrepVolleyball.com and MaxPreps’ 2013 National Freshman of the Year, she is a versatile 6-rotation player who has 2,812 kills, 1,225 digs, and 337 blocks in her high school career.
In the fall, Wisconsin also brings in Under Armour First-Team All-American Grace Loberg, a 6’3″ outside hitter from Geneva, Illinois; and 6’3″ middle blocker Danielle Hart from Virginia Beach,, Virginia – the 17th-ranked PrepVolleyball.com recruit in the country.
Wisconsin entered the NCAA post-season as one of the 4 seeded teams, but ran into a Stanford club in the elite 8 that caught fire in December and rode it to the national championship.