Volleyball adds five players for 2012 season
May 30, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Volleyball program has announced the addition of five players to its roster for the 2012 season, head coach Jerritt Elliott announced today. Joining the Longhorns will be: 5-3 libero Kat Brooks (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou HS), 6-2 outside hitter/setter Nicole Dalton (Parker, Colo./Chaparral HS), 6-4 middle blocker Sara Hattis (Rio Rancho, N.M./Cleveland HS), 6-3 middle blocker Molly McCage (Spring/Klein Collins HS) and 5-10 libero/outside hitter Amy Neal (Austin/Lake Travis HS).
"It's a great group of athletes that are good volleyball players," said Elliott. "Every one of them has the capability of coming in and contributing right away. This is a well-rounded group whose skills will make an impact on our program for years to come."
Here are biographies for the 2012 class:
Kat Brooks, 5-3 L (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou HS) -- Brooks attended the 2009 U.S. Girls' Youth National Training Team Camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and helped the U.S. Girls' Select A1 White Team to the silver medal at the USAV High Performance Championships. She was named Best Passer at the USAV High Performance Championships. She attended the 2008 USA Volleyball Select A2 Camp and the 2007 USA Volleyball Select Developmental A1 Camp in July.
She has played club volleyball for Asics Rainbow under coach Luis Ramirez and helped Asics Rainbows to the 2009 SCVA SoCal Qualifier gold medal in the 16 National Division. Brooks helped her club team to a fifth-place finish in 2008 at the USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championship in the 15 National Division. She was a member of the gold-medal squad in the 14 National Division at the Junior Nationals.
While at Punahou High, she was a member of the 2011 state and ILH championship squads and was ranked 10th on the Honolulu Star Advertiser's Fab 15. As a junior in 2010, her squad finished second at the state championship and won the ILH title while earning ILH DI All-Stars second team honors.
Jerritt Elliott on Kat Brooks: "Kat is an exciting player. She is in the mold of (former libero) Sydney Yogi. She is a little under-sized, but she has a huge heart and competes well. What I like about her is that she is extremely feisty. She is outspoken in a positive way and I don't think she is going to take a backseat to anyone. She is going to get out there and push from day one. She passes well and plays good defense. I think she will grind it out on a daily basis and we are excited to have her in our gym."
Nicole Dalton, 6-2 OH/S (Parker, Colo./Chaparral HS) -- Dalton is ranked No. 6 in the nation by Prep Volleyball. She was selected to the 2011 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team that competed at the FIVB Girls' Youth World Championship. Dalton was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Colorado twice in 2010 and 2011 and was named to the 2012 MaxPreps All-American Volleyball first team. She also was named 2011 Prep Volleyball High School All-American and named to the 2010 U.S. Girls' Youth National Training Team.
Last year, she led Chaparral High to the 5A state title and a perfect 31-0 record with 492 kills, 406 assists, 267 digs, 176 service receptions, 62 blocks and 54 aces while recording a .454 hitting percentage. She totaled 22 assists, 13 kills, 13 digs and two blocks in the state title sweep of Grandview (Aurora, Colo.), capturing Class 5A state tournament Most Valuable Player honors for the second consecutive season. She compiled 473 kills, 376 digs, 127 assists, 87 blocks and 47 service aces as a junior in 2010.
She plays at the club level for Front Range Volleyball Club under coach Jim Miret. She led Front Range to the bronze medal at the 2011 AAU Championships. In 2010, she helped USA Team to the gold medal at the USA Volleyball High Performance Championship and led Front Range to a fifth-place finish at the USA Volleyball Girls' Junior Nationals. At the 2009 and 2010 AAU Championships, Front Range finished with the silver medal.
In addition to donating her time as a youth volleyball instructor, Dalton has served locally as a companion to the elderly and volunteered on behalf of the Project 600 Christmas party for inner-city children.
Jerritt Elliott on Nicole Dalton: "Cole has the skill set to set and play right side in our program. The dilemma we will have, depending on how these freshmen adapt, is how long it will take these recruits to adapt to this level. With Nicole, she gives us some flexibility. Her size allows her to hit as a setter or opposite attacker. She has all the skill sets and will be a valuable piece to this program. Cole is a tremendous leader that understands the game at a high level for her age. She will compete from day one at two positions. This will give us some flexibility to run a 5-1 or look at running a 6-2 offense. I'm excited on what Cole brings to the table with her setting, ball control, leadership and competitive desire to win. She is one that has a very high level of training and comes in very experienced."
Sara Hattis, 6-4 MB (Rio Rancho, N.M., Cleveland HS) -- Hattis is a highly-touted recruit who chose volleyball over basketball, ranked No. 9 nationally by Prep Volleyball. She has only played club volleyball for three months, but was rated among the top 100 recruits nationally for basketball before she chose to play volleyball at Texas.
She helped Cleveland High reach the 2011 state finals, finishing as the runners-up. She had 289 kills on the season with a .485 hitting percentage.
Jerritt Elliott on Sara Hattis: "She is a fun one. We are fortunate that she chose volleyball over basketball. I think she has a very high end at this level. We have seen a great amount of improvement this year and we are excited to get her in the gym. She is a space-taker. She has big hands, plays long and has a quick arm swing. In time, she is going to be special. I think when she gets into the gym, things are going to accelerate for her pretty fast. She is a big-time player, it just depends on how quickly she adapts to the speed and physicality of our gym. We have a lot of confidence in where she will end up. She can potentially be the best blocker in this class."
Molly McCage, 6-3 MB (Spring/Klein Collins HS) -- McCage, rated as the No. 1 incoming freshman in the nation by Prep Volleyball, played for the 2011 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team that competed at the World Championship. She earned 2011 Prep Volleyball High School All-American honors. She was captain of the 2010 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team that won the NORCECA Girls' Youth Continental Championship and named Best Blocker of the tournament, posting 20 blocks (1.25 bps). She produced 59 points during the tournament, including 35 kills on 75 attacks.
She was named in 2011 by Prep Volleyball as one of the nation's Top 25 Junior Recruits and was named to the Top 25 Underclassmen to Watch by Volleyball Magazine. She was named to the 2011-12 All-Texas High School first team.
In 2010, she was named to the Prep Volleyball Soph 79 List. She was selected to the 2010 GVCHA Top 25 Houston Area and Lone Star Volleyball All-Texas teams. She earned 2009 all-district first team honors in her sophomore season at Klein Collins and named most valuable player while earning academic all-district honors.
She earned academic all-district honors in 2008 while at Klein Collins High.
McCage plays at the club level for Austin Juniors under coach Glen Lietzke.
Jerritt Elliott on Molly McCage: "We are excited about Molly. She is a very physical athlete, very fast off the floor with a good arm. I think she has the potential to be a great middle blocker in terms of her attacking and blocking abilities along with her speed. She competes at a very high level and will get after it from day one. We are excited about her. I think she has a lot of room for improvement, which says a lot about where she can end up."
Amy Neal, 5-10 L/OH (Austin/Lake Travis HS) -- Neal, rated No. 18 in the nation by Prep Volleyball, was the 2011 Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year for the state of Texas. She earned 2011 Prep Volleyball High School All-American honors.
She led Lake Travis to a Texas-record 50-0 season, the Class 4A state title and a No. 2 national ranking in the ESPNHS Fab 50 this fall. A 2011-12 Under Armour First Team All-American, she recorded 538 kills, 287 digs and 63 service aces. Neal is a two-time Class 4A State Tournament MVP and a two-time member of the Lone Star Volleyball All-Texas Team. She was named MVP of the USA Volleyball 17 Open Girls' Junior National Championships.
Jerritt Elliott on Amy Neal: "She is a dynamic athlete and can hurt you in many areas. She is very good from the service line, she is a great back row attacker and efficient in the front court. Because of what she can do in terms of passing, she gives us some options. We won't rule out the fact that she can play on the front row. There may be some situations that we look at that based on how the back court is sustaining itself. If we can put a premium on our passing percentage and how to utilize that, we may need to have ball control players out there. There are a lot of these players that can do multiple things and we are going to have to take a pretty fast look at what they can do. Amy's ball control is what we are really excited about. She can be a very good passer at this level. She has never played at the libero position before, so that's going to be the adjustment in terms of the mentality of playing that position. If she is able to grasp the mentality part of that position, then she is one that will really push for some starting time based on what we have seen and how well she has performed in the back row. Amy is a great addition to this program."
"We will be looking at different lineups," said Elliott. "I would be hard-pressed to say that we will find one that we will stick with early on. We are going to take a look at different players and positions. It's exciting because every one of our players on the roster has a legitimate chance to be on the court. It's the deepest team that we have ever had. We are still really young. We only have one senior, but I think it's a group that if they work hard and compete and get a good chemistry, we can be pretty special. We have some different options. Our staff will be patient, teach and develop this group throughout the season. Last year, we were good on the left side and in the middle, but we got really predictable. We want to be able to develop a backcourt game and do some things that utilize the pieces that we have. I know that our staff is extremely excited to see how these pieces will work together. It's going to be a work in progress. It looks good on paper, but we have to see how tough and committed they are. With the things we have seen so far, we are very pleased. It's a great class that bodes well for our future. This is a team we expect to be in a position to contend for years to come."
Texas returns nine letter winners from last year's squad that finished with a 25-5 overall record and won the Big 12 championship. The Longhorns reached the regional final in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.