🏐 Kansas Volleyball Signs Six for 2024 Season
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Head Coach Ray Bechard announced the addition of six new Kansas Volleyball signees that will be joining the program for the 2024 season.
Zoey Burgess, Ellie Moore, Reese Ptacek, Kenzie Dean, Heidi Devers and Grace Nelson will all be wrapping up their high school careers this year and joining the Jayhawks as true freshmen next season.
“We’ve assembled an elite group of high-character student-athletes who will continue the upward trajectory of the Kansas Volleyball program for years to come,” said Bechard. “They have already developed great relationships with each other, and we are excited to get them all on campus.”
Alpine, Utah | 6-4 | Middle Blocker
After four years at Lone Peak High School, Burgess posted a decorated career of being a four-time state champion as well as the 6A MVP. The 6-4 middle played club ball for Club V, and during her stint was named the 15’s American MVP. When asked why she chose Kansas, Burgess said, “It felt like home. I love all the coaches, it fit with my priorities and what I love, and the team was so nice and inviting.”
Bechard on Burgess: “Zoey is a physical middle blocker whose athleticism and size will allow her to have an immediate impact both offensively and defensively. She competes with great energy and enthusiasm, and we’re excited to have her joining us in January.”
Darien, Connecticut | 5-9 | Setter
Moore comes to Kansas after four years at Darien High School, where she was a four-year starter as well as a two-year team captain. The setter played club for Northeast Volleyball Club, where she was named to the 2022 and 2023 JVA Watch Lists and the 2022 AVCA Phenom List. In 2023, her team won first place in the 17 Open at the MLK Kickoff Challenge. In 2022, Moore’s team took first place in the 16 Open at Nike Boston Festival and third place in the 16 Open at JVA Charm City, Baltimore. When asked why she chose Kansas, Moore said, “During my visit I saw firsthand how much Kansas has to offer. I felt a true sense of family amongst the volleyball team which is super important to me, as well as the overall school spirit and camaraderie. Additionally, the support for student-athletes on all levels is top notch.”
Bechard on Moore: “Ellie is an accomplished setter who competes with great pace, confidence and poise. She has a great understanding of the setter position and exemplifies the qualities essential for the position.”
Prescott, Wisconsin | 6-3 | Middle Blocker
Ptacek comes to Kansas from Prescott High School, where she was named Middle Border Second Team All-Conference in 2020. The standout middle played club volleyball for the Mizuno Northern Lights 17-1 team. In 2022, Ptacek was named to the GJNC All-Tournament Team during her club season. When asked why she chose Kansas, Ptacek said, “I chose Kansas because of the amazing culture and atmosphere. KU has a great support system and people that will help me to be the best athlete and student I can be.”
Bechard on Ptacek: “Reese is an elite attacker off one foot and will create numerous offensive options for us. Her foot speed allows her to impact the match in many ways. She competes with great joy and intensity and will be joining the program in January.”
Johnston, Iowa | 6-3 | Outside Hitter
Dean is a student-athlete at Dowling Catholic High School in Iowa, where she was a 2023 CIML Conference Champion, a state championship runner-up as a senior, and also named to the 5A West All District Team back in 2021. During her club volleyball stint, Dean played for Iowa Power Volleyball Alliance, who were the 2022 Freedom Division Champions. When asked why she chose Kansas, Dean said, “I chose Kansas because there is no other place like it. I chose Kansas for the culture and people, and the support at Kansas will help me grow on and off the court the next four years. I knew Kansas was the place for me on my visit because I did not want to leave.”
Bechard on Dean: “Kenzie is a physical outside attacker who will be a significant point scorer for us with her attacking and blocking skills. She competes with great intent, has solid platform skills, and her experience in the back-row will allow her to impact the match in all six-rotations.
Shawnee, Kansas | 5-4 | Libero
Devers chose to stay in her home state at the conclusion of her four years at St. James Academy. The four-year varsity player and 5A KVA All-State selection also plays club volleyball for Dynasty, where she has racked up a multitude of accolades during her career. Among them are Open National Champion, Open National Runner-Up (2x), fifth place at Open Nationals, 2016 USAV Beach National Champion, USAVB A1 National Team and NTDP Nominee. When asked why she chose Kansas, Devers said, “I chose Kansas because KU has always been my favorite school; it’s close to my hometown and the coaches are amazing.”
Bechard on Devers: “Heidi is a multi-talented libero/defensive specialist recruit who has an elite pass and serve game. She’s got great range defensively and brings a consistent intensity each and every day.”
River Forest, Illinois | 6-1 | Outside Hitter
Nelson is a product of Oak Park and River Forest High School (OPRF), where she is the all-time OPRF kills leader, as well as the team captain in 2023. Nelson played club ball for 1st Alliance, where she was both the team and floor captain from 2017-2023. This club season was filled with accolades for Nelson, including USA Volleyball GJNC All-Tournament/All-American Team 17 Open, 2023 Prep Volleyball GJNC All-Tournament/All-American Team 17 Open, 2023 Volleyball Recruiter GJNC All-Tournament/All-American Team 17 Open, 2023 Prep Volleyball Club All-American Team, 2023 USA Volleyball GJNC 3rd Place 17 Open, 2023 JVA All-National Team, 2023 Volleyball Recruiter All-American and 2023 MaxPreps All American.
Bechard on Nelson: “Grace will impact our program in all phases. She can attack from every zone and can pass and serve as well as defend at a high level. She competes with great passion and energy and will elevate the intensity level in our gym.”