With just about two months 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.
Wisconsin finishes off the top five of teams we’ve check in on so far:
Over 40 percent of Wisconsin’s roster in 2017 will be of the freshman variety as they are bringing in seven highly-touted recruits to Madison. The Badgers needed to step up in recruiting after they lost a big chunk of the team, and according to PrepVolleyball have the number two class in the country.
Of the seven incoming freshmen, four were named to the Under Armour All-American list. Sydney Hilley, a 6’0″ setter from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and Grace Loberg, a 6’3″ outside hitter fro Geneva, Illinois, are the leaders of the group after both making First Team All-America. Making the second team was Dana Rettke – a middle blocker who stands at 6’8″ out of Riverside, Illinois. Rounding out the four was Mariah Whalen, a 6’1″ outside hitter from Wausau, Wisconsin.
Beyond the four Under-Armour All-Americans, Wisconsin is also adding a trio with high expectations. Riley Bell, a native of Naperville, Illinois, comes in as the lone libero/defensive specialist of the group as she joins two more middle blockers: Danielle Hart and Nicole Shanahan. The 6’4″ Hart descends from Virginia Beach, Virginia while the 6’2″ Shanahan is an in-state recruit from Oconomowoc.
Of course, the Badgers needed to pluck both quality and quantity from the recruiting depths to counteract the loss of so many. Lauren Carlini sticks out among those departing, as the four-time All-American setter is now with USA Volleyball. Middle blocker Haleigh Nelson also graduates after earning Second Team All-American for the second straight year. Additionally, Wisconsin had two other seniors exhaust their eligibility and two players retire.
It would be unfair to compare a team with so much youth to last year’s National Champion, but it could potentially be the target for Wisconsin. Last year Stanford brought in a big recruiting class and the young talent merged well with some returning stars. Wisconsin has some of those back in Molly Haggerty and Tionna Williams, who both made Third Team All-America for Wisconsin as youngsters. Haggerty will now be a sophomore while Williams becomes a junior. There may be a few rough patches in the post-Carlini era, but with a deep and skillful recruiting class, Wisconsin will find its footing just fine.