MONDAY, MAY 10, 2010
Volleyball adds three more for 2010 season
The JU volleyball team put the final touches to its 2010 recruiting class by announcing the signing of middle blocker Nadia Booker (Lakewood, Wash.) and outside hitters Niatha Cullen (Chana, Ill.) and Taylor Nyquist (Colleyville, Texas).

The threesome joins setter Kendall Courtney (Houston, Texas), outside hitter Jenell Larsen (Waupun, Wis.) and middle blockers Alyssa Robertson (Pompano Beach, Fla.) and Kylie Jacob (Fayetteville, Ga.), who joined during the early signing period.

“All three of our April signees were ‘late bloomers’ with the potential to develop into stars,” said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. “It’s really amazing what athletes we were able to find late in the recruiting process this year. The seven athletes we have coming into our program next year are really a special group. They will raise the level of competition in our gym next fall to a whole new level and I think this is the start of something big. We will have depth at every position with some young and energetic kids really pushing our veterans. I really can’t wait to get in our gym in August… I’m counting down the days.

"Chuck Crawford, Ali Simmons and Kelly Hopkins did a great job finding athletes that meet our standards both athletically and academically. It's tough to bring in seven student-athletes in one class, but our staff did a great job staying patient and we believe we have one of the best incoming freshmen classes in the country."

Booker, a 6-foot senior middle blocker/outside hitter from Ramstein High School in Germany, led the Royals to three regional titles and two European championships. As a senior, she earned all-region, all-Europe and all-tournament team accolades.

“Nadia is an extremely athletic hitter and we are excited to get her into the gym next fall,” said Kupferberg. “She can play anywhere along the front row so it will be fun to see where she shows the most promise next August. She doesn’t have a lot of experience, but we think she’s going to be a quick learner and compete for playing time fairly quickly.”

Cullen, a 5-10 senior outside hitter/middle blocker at Oregon High School, helped lead the Hawks to three straight conference and regional championships as a freshman, sophomore and junior. As a senior, she was a unanimous first team all-conference selection after tallying 306 kills, 294 digs, 81 blocks, 31 aces and a .326 hitting percentage. As a junior, she was named second team all-conference after tallying 207 kills, 315 digs, 69 blocks and 29 aces. As a sophomore, she was named third team all-area after finishing with 203 kills, 169 digs, 55 blocks and 22 aces. As a freshman, she was an honorable mention all-area honoree after tallying 189 kills, 171 digs, 71 blocks and 17 aces.

“Niatha is just a raw athlete that we are looking forward to training,” said Kupferberg. “I don’t think she has any idea what she is capable of yet, but I see big things ahead for her. She’s a little small, but has the intensity and athleticism to make up for it.”

Nyquist, a 6-foot outside hitter/right side at Grapevine High School (same HS as current Dolphin Brittany Lehman), earned team MVP honors and was named second team all-district as a senior. As a junior, she received honorable mention all-district. In club play, she was a member of the TAV 18 VB Rags Black club team which won the Tour of Texas this past season.

“Taylor is the complete package,” Kupferberg said. “She plays for one of the best club programs in the nation and has developed into both a strong passer and hitter which will allow her to contribute as an outside hitter in our program immediately.”

JU has tallied four consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1986-89 and tallied a Division I program record 13 consecutive wins during the 2009 season.