High school athletes gathered in gyms, cafeterias, and libraries across the country the week of Nov. 13 to sign their National Letters of Intent. Some had just decided where they would spend their college careers and others had known for years, but regardless of how they came to their decision, these eight athletes are some of the volleyball players we will be keeping an eye on as they establish themselves in the college scene in the coming months and years.
Kelly Sheffield began recruiting Kelli Bates when he coached at the University of Dayton and she stood only 5'9". Now Sheffield has taken over at the University of Wisconsin in the Big Ten, and Bates has grown two inches and increased her vertical, making her a credible threat even in one of the toughest volleyball conferences in the country. Bates decided to follow Sheffield to Wisconsin and signed her National Letter of Intent in November, making her the only freshman recruit for the 2014 Wisconsin team.
Reily Buechler comes from a family of winners. Her father, Jud, played in the NBA, winning three championships with the Chicago Bulls. The 6'2" Torrey Pines senior looks to add a CIF championship to her résumé before she joins the UCLA squad next fall.
Kyle Dagostino, a 5'9" libero hailing from Tampa Bay, Fla., will travel cross-country to play for Stanford after graduating from Berkeley Prep in the spring. Dagostino grew up in a family dedicated to volleyball. His mother Lauri played at University of South Florida, his sister Mackenzie is a sophomore setter at the University of Florida, and his father Randy coached the girls’ team at Florida powerhouse Berkeley Prep for 28 years.
Caroline Knop might be the best, most versatile female athlete La Salle High School has ever seen. The 5'8" four-sport athlete (golf, basketball, softball, volleyball) declared her allegiance to volleyball when she signed her National Letter of Intent to Michigan where she will begin her first season in the fall after earning her 16th varsity letter in the 2014 softball season.
Kasey Reuter committed to Missouri in December 2012 but had to wait almost a year to sign her National Letter of Intent. The day the Hinton, Iowa, native signed, Nov. 18, Mizzou was 31-0, so it’s safe to say the 6'1" outside hitter still feels good about her decision.
Jon Rivera, named Player of the Year by the Puerto Rico High School Athletic Alliance in the fall, will add his talents to USC’s 2014 roster. Rivera trained with the Puerto Rico National Team in 2013 and Trojan head coach Bill Ferguson described the 6'4" opposite as “the top prospect out of Puerto Rico this year.”
Following in his older brother Taylor’s footsteps, Brenden Sander has signed his intent to play for BYU next season. The younger Sander will miss the opportunity to compete with his brother, who was VBM’s 2013 Player of the Year, by only one season. The Huntington Beach senior outside hitter helped his high school team to the CIF Southern Division I regional championship last spring.
Wilmington, N.C., native Cassidy Stephenson will traverse the length of her home state to attend college and play volleyball at Appalachian State next fall. The 6'1" middle blocker and captain of her high school team hit .405 in her senior high school season, according to MaxPreps.com.
Originally published in February 2014