Nov. 26, 2012
BEAUMONT, Texas - Head coach Justin Gibert can boast of a wide recruiting base after adding five players to his Lamar volleyball team for 2013 as the NCAA Early Signing period drew to a close last week.
"I think we're always looking for talent wherever we can find it, and this class ended up being mostly out-of-state," Gibert said. "I'm really excited about this group. We're adding a lot of skill in some areas that I think we can improve upon from this past year. I think we've managed to add a lot of skill with this class without sacrificing any athleticism."
Perhaps no recruit will rack up the miles like Nicole Parish, who hails from Chelmsford, England. The outside hitter enters after a highly-decorated youth career. Parish boasts of an international reputation, having participated with the U17, U19 and U23 national teams as well as at the World Schools Championships in France with prep powerhouse The Boswells School.
"Nicole is going to bring some international experience to the table, which in general, is a little deeper than what American players have experienced at her age," Gibert explained. "She's young in age, but she's played against a wide variety of talent. She's strong on both the front row and back row, which is what we're looking for with the loss of Cynthia McCollum."
Alexa Johnson will also be coming to Beaumont from out of state, hailing from La Vista, Nebraska. The setter was a force to be reckoned with for Papillion-La Vista High School, helping lead the Monarchs with 236 kills, 600 assists and 223 digs this past season. Johnson is a former All-State honoree and is set to join the program in January.
"Alexa is coming in at semester and we're really excited to have her," Gibert said. "She's one of the setters that we'll rely on to lead the team next year. I think she's similar to Alex Morford in that she's really aggressive and she finds the middle really well. We'll look for great things from her."
Cedar Young will look to carry over the success she experienced with Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona. The 6-2 right side hitter racked up 123 kills and 42 blocks, helping the Huskies to a 38-5 record and a No. 82 national ranking.
"Cedar comes in with great size at 6-2 and hits a high ball well," Gibert said. "She's very strong and that's really going to help us on the right side. She can play both left and right, and she's going to add both offense and blocking from that side, which we struggled with at times this past year."
Ashley Ellis is joining Lamar out of Clear Lake High School in Houston. The 5-9 setter was a three-year letter-winner for the Falcons, helping the team to a 5A State Semifinal showing earlier this month after posting a spotless 12-0 record in district play.
"Ashley has great hands, moves well and has great body control," Gibert said. "She played at a high level in club this past season, so she has a lot of quality experience. I think she's going to come in here and compete right away for that setter position. We'll be pretty sharp with both her and Alexa in the mix."
The final member of Gibert's early signing class is Autumn Taylor, a 5-10 outside hitter from Pearland High School. Taylor was a key offensive weapon for the Oilers, registering over 500 kills to go along with 106 service aces and 130 digs and leading the team to an impressive 41-6 record. She was also a three-time All-District honoree.
"Autumn is another six-rotation outside hitter," Gibert said. "She adds great strength and she's a good jumper. She's going to be a real help on offense, and she plays really hard on defense. She's a real blue collar worker on the court."