MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2007
Volleyball adds four more players to 2007 class

April 30, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The JU volleyball team announced the signing of outside hitter Kesley Clark (Houston, Texas), middle hitter Abby Gruenbacher (Wichita, Kan.), setter Hannah Munneke (Santa Ynez, Calif.) and Wyoming middle hitter transfer Nicki Kent (Vancouver, Wash.), head coach Shaun Kupferberg announced Monday.

The foursome will join 6-foot-3 middle hitter Aidan Yeager of Evans High School (Martinez, Ga.) and 6-foot outside hitter Brittany Lehman of Grapevine High School (Colleyville, Texas), who each inked with the Dolphins in the fall.

"These four athletes will add experience and depth to our line up this fall," said Kupferberg. "Kesley, Abby and Nicki come in with the ability to play multiple positions and therefore will allow us a lot of versatility over the next few years."

Clark, a 5-foot-11 junior college transfer from Miami Dade College, will join JU as a junior after completing her sophomore year at Miami Dade CC before completing her freshman year at San Jacinto College. As a sophomore, she earned all-Southern Conference and all-tournament honors after tallying 79 kills, 57 blocks and 89 digs while leading the Sharks to the national tournament. As a freshman, she was named all-region and all-tournament after finishing with 196 kills and 101 digs while also helping the Ravens to the national tournament.

In her prep career, she was an all-district honoree at Mayde Creek High School in Houston and was a member of the Willowbrook Volleyball Club. "Clark has played for two top-level junior college programs and will add depth to our outside hitter position," said Kupferberg. "She is very athletic and can play well above the net."

Gruenbacher, 6-foot-2 senior from of Bishop Carroll High School, was named all-metro, all-city and honorable mention all-state in her final season after leading the Eagles to a sixth-place finish in the state. She also earned honorable mention all-city accolades in volleyball and basketball in her previous three years with the school. Gruenbacher is also a member of Molten Shockwave Volleyball Club.

"Gruenbacher is a great late find for our staff," Kupferberg said. "She is enthusiastic about learning and is improving at a rapid pace. Her size and mobility will allow her to be very successful in her four years at JU."

Munneke, a 5-foot-8 senior from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, was named second team all-CIF Southern Section, all-Santa Barbara County, Los Padres League MVP and team MVP as a senior. At the club level, she led the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club to a fifth place finish at the Junior Olympics as a team captain. As a junior, she also earned second-team all-state, first team all-league and team MVP accolades.

"Hannah is a very gifted athlete and a great addition to our program," Kupferberg said. "She is very competitive on the court and in the classroom which is something we greatly value. Her confidence and leadership ability are traits that cannot be taught and will help her excel at the college level."

Kent, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, will join the Dolphins after competing her freshman season with the Cowgirls in 2006. At Wyoming, she played in 23 matches, including 13 starts, while tallying 71 kills and a .263 hitting percentage.

In her prep career, Kent was a team captain, first team all-state and first team all-conference selection as a senior at Heritage High School in Vancouver, Wash. She helped the squad to consecutive conference and district titles in 2003 and 2004 while the team finished sixth and seventh in the state, respectively, during that time. She was also a member of the Cowlitz Volleyball Club.

"Kent has valuable experience playing from her first year at Wyoming," said Kupferberg. "Her talent and character will make an immediate impact on our program."

In Kupferberg's first season at JU, the Dolphins finished with a 17-15 record and qualified for the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament for the eighth consecutive season, where they reached the tournament finals for the second time in program history.