With a few weeks left before the 2017 volleyball season begins, VolleyMob is taking a look at some of the collegiate recruiting classes you may have missed and those who stand to make an impact on teams in and out of the final AVCA Top 25.
Utah completes the top 25:
- Penn State
- North Carolina
- Florida State
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
- San Diego
- Washington State
Utah finished at the edge of the top 25 last season after a 20-12 (11-9 Pac-12) season that saw an NCAA Tournament appearance. Although they return their award-recognized players, they do lose a lot of depth from their 2016 roster headed into this season. They seem to have found replacements though with a monstrous seven-women freshmen class joining a junior college transfer in 2017.
Of the seven incoming freshmen, two were named high school All-Americans: Dani Barton and Shannon Scully. A 6’0″ outside hitter from Brighton High School in Sandy, Utah, Barton was named an Under Armour Second-Team All-American. Scully meanwhile was on the third-team as a 6’2″ outside hitter from Mater Dei High School in Huntington Beach, California.
Joining the all-americans are five other freshmen. 6’3″ Kenzie Koerber tacks on yet another outside hitter to the team as she comes by way of Chino Hills High School in California. Two setters come in the same class in 5’9″ Camryn Machado (La Costa Canyon High School in Cardiff by the Sea, California) and 5’8″ Alexa Van Komen (Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, California). Rounding out the large freshmen class is 6’2″ middle blocker Phoebe Grace (Kahuku High School in Laie, Hawaii) and 5’9″ defensive specialist/libero Kristen Abels (Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, California).
The lone transfer headed into the Utes program is Lauga Gauta, a 5’11” outside hitter from Northwest College. Gauta was a two-time NJCAA All-American (honorable mention in 2015 and first-team in 2016) as she capped off her JuCo career by winning the NJCAA National Player of the Year in her final season after totaling 575 kills (4.87 per set), 325 digs, 78 blocks and 64 aces.
Overall, the class was ranked 11th in the country by PrepVolleyball, the highest ever in program history. It also puts them as the top-ranked class in the Pac-12.
In addition to the recruiting class that features quality and quantity, Utah has outside hitter Adora Anae back for her senior season after she was listed as an AVCA Second-Team All-American in 2016. Middle blocker Tawnee Luafalemana also returns after earning Pac-12 Honorable Mention status last season.