Kansas Volleyball’s Incoming Class Ranked 15th
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Filling the shoes of the most successful senior class in Kansas volleyball history is not easily done – but head coach Ray Bechard and his coaching staff got as close as possible as PrepVolleyball.com ranked KU’s incoming class of 2014 No. 15 in the country.
The members of the 2014 volleyball signing class are: Addison Barry (Topeka, Kansas/Hayden HS), Claire Carpenter (Rockwall, Texas/Rockwall Heath HS), Kayla Cheadle (Columbia, Missouri/Rock Bridge HS), Ainise Havili (Fort Worth, Texas/Haltom HS), Tori Miller (Derby, Kansas/Derby HS), Kelsie Payne (Austin, Texas/John B. Connally HS) and Madison Rigdon (Pflugerville, Texas/Pflugerville HS). Comprised of one setter, one outside hitter, two middle blockers and three defensive specialists, this class will impact all areas of the Jayhawks’ game plan, and Bechard is thrilled with the potential ahead.
“They are highly thought of, but what would be good is if they do this four years from now,” Bechard said. “We just lost a senior class that was ranked in the top-20, top-30 as freshmen and now we all know now that they really were that (ranking). Obviously, it’s good to identify some potential and what they think would be a talented class. Now it’s up to this class, and all of us as a staff, to put in the time and effort to make that prediction ring true.”
The departing senior class consisted of seven women, including the program’s first All-American in Caroline Jarmoc, the Big 12 Setter of the Year in Erin McNorton and KU’s all-time digs leader in Brianne Riley. When they arrived in 2010, PrepVolleyball.com rated them the 26th-best class in the country. Thus, making the 2014 group of rookies the highest-ranked recruiting class that Bechard and his regime have put together.
“Recruiting is an on-going process by everyone on staff,” Bechard said. “It’s a lot of hard work from Coach Bird (Laura Kuhn) and Coach Todd (Chamberlain) in a collective effort. Recruiting doesn’t necessarily fall on one person. It’s a cumulative process.”
The reigning 2013 Centennial League MVP, Addison Barry comes to Kansas after a successful career at Hayden High School under the guidance of coach Mark Evans. Voted Team MVP for three-straight years to end her high school career, Claire Carpenter was also a multiple All-District (three years) and Academic All-District (four years) honoree. In 2013, Carpenter was named the 12-5A Setter of the Year en route to becoming an All-State nomination.
Kayla Cheadle is one of two dynamic middle blockers in the class of 2014, joining Kelsie Payne, to combine with current Jayhawk middle Janae Hall and Tayler Soucie – who ranks in the top-five in the Big 12 in attack percentage and blocking. Cheadle and Payne have Bechard predicting KU’s middle blocking core will continue to be a force to be reckoned with even after the departure of Jarmoc. Additionally, Payne finished her high school career holding several of her school’s volleyball records, including: most blocks in a match (10), most blocks in a season (136), most career blocks (277) and best single-season hitting percentage (.361).
The most likely candidate to step into a starting role right away, Ainise Havili led her 17U TAV Club to the National Championship last fall, earning Tournament MVP honors in the process under the direction of club coach Ping Cao. Earlier this month, Havili was named to the 18-player U.S. Women’s Junior National Training Team (WJNTT) roster. PrepVolleyball.com also ranked her the No. 39 on its Senior Aces ratings.
An All-League First Team selection and Derby High School’s kills leader as a senior, Tori Miller will shift her focus to the defensive specialist position at Kansas. A true six-rotation player, incoming outside hitter Madison Rigdon will head to Lawrence upon completion of an impressive career at Pflugerville High School. Rigdon was namd a Senior Ace by PrepVolleyball.com, a two-time Hitter MVP, District 16-5A and a three-time member of the All-Texas Team (LoneStarVolleyball.com).
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