Kansas Volleyball Adds Dominant Trio to 2013 Roster

March 27, 2013

LAWRENCE, Kan.— The Kansas Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year, the Tri-County Volleyball Player of the Year and a Regent Scholar make up the dynamic trio that will be added to the Kansas volleyball roster for the 2013 season.

Two Kansans and a South Dakota native make up the Jayhawks’ class of 2013, that will look to help Kansas build on the best season in program history. Last fall, KU posted its best winning percentage with a 26-7 (.788) record overall and a 12-4 mark in Big 12 play for a third-place finish. The team was rewarded with an overall No. 11 seed and hosted the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Head coach Ray Bechard, the 2012 Big 12 and AVCA Central Region Coach of the Year, is confident this trio will quickly be on pace to helping the Jayhawks repeat that success again this fall. The class of 2013 consists of: Emma Hanson (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Tayler Soucie (Osawatomie, Kan.) and Cassie Wait (Gardner, Kan.).

Emma Hanson | OH | 6-0 | Sioux Falls, S.D. | Sioux Falls Washington HS
A four-year letterwinner at Sioux Falls Washington High School under coach LaDawn Nesje, Emma Hanson is predicted to fill an outside hitter role at KU. Although a South Dakota native, Hanson and her family are well-acquainted with the University of Kansas as her father, aunt and uncle were also hansonJayhawks.

“She loves Kansas and has some family ties to Kansas,” Bechard said. “She had a great high school career and is excited about joining us.”

A versatile athlete, Hanson posted 900 career digs and nearly 900 kills for the Warriors. She acquired a .304 attack percentage during a sophomore campaign that saw her school finish fourth in the state tournament. Hanson earned All-Conference and All-Tournament team honors following her breakout season.

“We had Emma in camp last summer, and she just really impressed us in a lot of the things she could do,” Bechard said. “She’s a physical kid that can play multiple positions – much like Tayler Soucie. She’s comfortable in the middle, but can take off from one foot. She reminds us somewhat of a (current Kansas OH) Chelsea Albers-type player, so we’re trying to develop her ability to play more than three rotations.”

As she transitioned into being an upperclassman, Hanson’s list of accolades quickly grew. Following her junior season, Hanson was named to the All-City, All-Conference and All-Tournament Teams as she helped her team to a fifth-place finish at the state tournament.

Hanson made her senior campaign a memorable one, recording 364 kills on a .328 attack percentage, 325 digs and 33 aces. The Warriors were District Champions for the second-straight season and advanced to the 2A state championship, where they finished as runners up. Hanson was named All-Conference, All-State, All-Tournament, Team MVP and was named the ESPN 99.1 Athlete of the Week.

Equally strong in the classroom, Hanson graduated in the top-five percent of her class and was a prestigious Regent Scholar. She was a member of the 4.0 Honor Roll all four years, Freshman Student of the Year, All-State and All-Conference Academic teams, the school’s representative to Kiwanis Club (2013) and was a Regent Scholar (2013).

Hanson played club volleyball for Sioux Falls East under coach Amanda Kjelden.

Tayler Soucie | RS/MB | 6-1 | Osawatomie, Kan. | Osawatomie HS
A four-year letterwinner in track and basketball, along with volleyball, Tayler Soucie comes to Kansas after a versatile athletic career at Osawatomie High School. Although she was also coached by Jennifersoucie Waggoner, Soucie is one of two from KU’s class of 2013 that played high school volleyball for her dad, head coach Darren Soucie. A family affair, Soucie will join older brother, Brendan, who is already a Jayhawk student-athlete. Brendan is currently a junior on the KU track team.

From the time she earned All-League Honorable Mention honors as a freshman until being named the Tri-County Spotlight Player of the Year as a senior, Soucie was a force for the Trojans. According to Bechard, Soucie is versatile enough to play several different roles in her upcoming career.

“Taylor Soucie is a wonderful addition to the program,” Bechard said. “She can play more than one position. She can play middle-right and is very dynamic with great foot speed. She is very determined to get better and to play at a high level. She’ll be joining her brother (Brendan) here who is on our track and field team, so that’s exciting. We are thrilled that she’s going to be with us this fall. She has a great combination of speed and just a willingness to want to get better.”

She comes in with plenty of talent already as Soucie’s 779 kills during her senior season led the country. Soucie also posted 138 solo blocks and a .572 attack percentage, while leading her team to a runner-up finish in the Sub-State Championship. Aside from Tri-County Player of the Year honors, Soucie was also named All-League First Team, All-State Second Team and All-Metro Second Team.

Soucie’s junior year provided an explosive stepping stone to ramp up to her senior campaign. She rolled out 443 kills and 80 solo blocks en route to collecting All-Tri County First Team and All-League First Team honors, which Soucie also earned as a sophomore.

Bechard sees Soucie learning from current Jayhawk Marianne Beal as a vocal teacher at the right side position as well as middle blockers Caroline Jarmoc and Jessie Allen.

“I think she’ll play a little middle and a little right side,” Bechard said. “Next year, she’ll probably play a little more right side. After (Caroline) Jarmoc and Jessie (Allen) finish their careers, there will be more opportunities for her to move the middle. That position has a lot of quality people in it right now, but she gives us great depth and will challenge for some immediate playing time.”

Truly a versatile athlete, Soucie is a two-time Tri-Country Track Athlete of the Year and was the 2011 4A State Champion in the 100-meter hurdles (sophomore) and the runner-up in the same event in 2012 (junior). In basketball, Soucie was All-League First Team, All-Tri County First Team and All-State Honorable Mention in her sophomore and junior seasons and holds the career blocks and career rebounds record at OHS.

Valuable in the classroom, Soucie comes in as an Academic All-State Volleyball honoree, a Kansas Scholar and a member of the Kansas Honors Program.

Soucie played club volleyball for the Asics MAVS under coaches Tom Slaughter, Brandy Neff, David Beach, Mike Talamantes, Amy Drawe and Mary Bruno.

Cassie Wait | L/DS | 5-8 | Gardner, Kan. | Gardner Edgerton HS
A four-year letterwinner at Gardner Edgerton High School, like Soucie, Cassie Wait also played her high waitschool career for her father, coach Darrell Wait. Although Wait will be groomed to play a different position in college than she did in high school, she comes in with highest accolades. As an outside hitter, Wait had a breakout senior season that saw her claim 6A Player of the Year, Under Armour Girls High School All-America First Team and Kansas Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year honors.

“Cassie will make a little bit of a transition in her position because she was an outside attacker – a dominant outside attacker – throughout her high school and club career, but we’re looking to train her as a libero-type candidate,” Bechard said. “She’s a dynamic athlete and a great competitor that’s got good ball-handling skills, and I think she could become an elite ball handler. We’re excited about that aspect of what she brings to the Jayhawks.”

As a Trailblazer, Wait racked up an astounding 1,750 kills and 1,635 digs for her career. The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) named Wait as one of 100 players selected for HS All-America honors, which represent 32 states and 89 high schools. With that honor, Wait was invited to play in the Under Armour All-America Volleyball Match and Skills Competition, held at the 2012 AVCA Convention, the same convention where Bechard was honored of his AVCA Regional Coach of the Year and Caroline Jarmoc was bestowed with her AVCA Second Team All-America accolades.

“Cassie being an Under Armour All-American, I’m sure, was a great experience for her to be involved in with a bunch of high-level athletes,” Bechard said. “I think that’s one experience she can draw from to come in here next fall and make a significant impact right away.”

Adding to her long list of honors, Wait was four-time All-Conference (once Frontier League, three times Eastern Kansas League), two-time All-State First Team, two-time All-Metro First Team and was named to the Mizuno Honorable Mention team. Yet, the highly-recruited Jayhawk to-be didn’t come from a Jayhawk household.

“She’s actually got a brother that’s an elite pole vaulter at Kansas State and both of her parents graduated from Kansas State, so we had to do some work,” Bechard said. “It’s been an interesting process. We recruited her for quite some time and with her dad also being her high school coach; that was an interesting dynamic. She’s a young lady that has had a lot of success in a lot of athletic pursuits, and we’re thrilled that she’s chosen to concentrate on volleyball at the University of Kansas.”

Bechard was correct in Wait’s success in several athletic pursuits. Aside from volleyball, Wait was also twice named to the All-Metro Team for track and was a two-time member of the EKL Honorable Mention basketball honorees.

Like the other members of her incoming class, Wait is a bright spot in the classroom. The co-valedictorian at GEHS, Wait gradated in the top one percent of her class and is a Kansas Honors Scholar.

Wait played club volleyball for the Mid-America Volleyball Club under coaches Barry Lenth, Lauren Armas and Amy Drawe.

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