SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— The UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team announced its 2020 recruiting class Tuesday, officially welcoming six freshman student-athletes to the program. Among the new Gauchos are four outside-hitters, a middle blocker, and a libero who are all eager to help this thriving program continue on its upward trajectory. The class has been ranked in the top 25 by VolleyHigh and in the top 39 by PrepVolley.
"We are very excited about our 2020 Class and how they will complement our returning team, head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. "We have been able to address key needs in terms of both position and skill set. There is a large amount of both ball control and volleyball IQ in this group along with the type of athleticism that we know will thrive in our system."
Abrielle Bross | OH, 6-1, South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
The first of the hitters is Abrielle Bross, who joins the Gauchos from South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Bross enjoyed an incredible senior season at South Lake Tahoe High School where she posted a league best .552 hitting percentage and ranked second in both kills with 400, and digs with 299. This feat earned her a First Team All-State recognition as well as a spot on the Prep Volleyball Top 150 Senior Aces list and a Max Preps Player of the Week award. She holds her high school's records in both hitting percentage and vertical jump and her best match came this past September when she posted a monster 20 kill, 17 dig double-double on .487 hitting against Elko High School.
"Abrielle combines superior jumping ability with a live arm that makes her a physical threat from either pin," Lantagne Welch said. "In a year when we lose the one player who touched 10'6", it's nice to bring someone in right away who will have the ability to potentially attack from that height. Abrielle has a huge upside and we are excited to see her embrace coaching to quickly adapt to the college game."
Nia Correal | MB, 6-4, El Cerrito, Calif.
The sole middle blocker of the group is El Cerrito, Calif. native Nia Correal who played a medley of positions for El Cerrito High School including outside hitter, opposite, and middle blocker. She was recognized early on in her career being named to the Prep Volleyball Shine List and following a standout senior season was named to the 2019 All-League Team.
"Nia brings much needed height to our roster that you simply can't teach. She will be the tallest player on our team from day one," Lantagne Welch said. "On top of that, she moves well for her size and her ability to improve quickly has really stood out to us. A past dual sport athlete, we look forward to Nia continuing that improvement in our gym and soaking up every bit of experience she can to bring her strong blocking presence and attacking ability to the floor as a Gaucho."
Camryn Jones | L, 5-8, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Libero Camryn Jones comes from Manhattan Beach, Calif. and due to her incredible ball control will be making the transition to the libero position after playing all four years at outside hitter for Mira Costa High School. She was a three-time letter winner starting all three years and led her team to three CIF Regional Tournament appearances and a CIF State tournament in 2019.
"Camryn has been a ball control outside most of her career, but she will transition to a libero here at UCSB," Lantagne Welch said. "She is a dynamic athlete that has the ability to cover a lot of ground. Her passing, ball handling skills, adaptability, and jump serve brings a great skill set to our libero group. Camryn is a competitor and we look forward to her bringing that fire to our gym."
Briana McKnight | OH, 5-10, Scottsdale, Ariz.
The second pin hitter on the roster is Briana McKnight who comes to Santa Barbara, from Scottsdale, Ariz. where she led her high school Xavier College Prep to back-to-back State Championships in 2017 and 2018, while making the state tournament all four years. In her four seasons, she collected a trio of All-Conference and All-Region nods, was named to the All-Arizona team, and received an Arizona High School Athlete of the Year nomination. Her senior year brought huge numbers on the stat sheet as she sent down 500 kills in 115 sets for an average of 4.35 kills p/set, to go along with 350 digs and 35 aces. McKnight was also named a Prep Volleyball All-American Honorable Mention and earned a spot on the Prep Volleyball Top 100 Senior Aces list.
"Bri is an experienced, true six-rotation outside hitter that our tempo of offense is looking for," Lantagne Welch said. "She combines great passing, along with speed, athleticism, and a strong step close to score in our fast offense. Her high level playing experiences in both high school and club have aided her volleyball IQ and will help ease her transition to the college level."
Michelle Ohwobete | OH, 5-10, Oakland, Calif.
Another pin hitter joining McKnight and Bross on the roster is Michelle Ohwobete, who comes to UCSB from the famed Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, Calif. and brings physicality to the Gauchos' skilled group of pin hitters. In 2017 Ohwobete made the change from the middle blocker position to outside hitter and the switch proved to be effective as she went on to earn the MaxPreps Player of the Year as a sophomore. She followed up her early success by winning back-to-back Cal-Hi NCS Volleyball Player of the Year awards and earning a Prep Volleyball All-American Honorable Mention nod, while leading her team to three straight league titles. Ohwobete was also named to Prep Volleyball's Top 100 Senior Aces list.
"Michelle is not afraid of pressure and has demonstrated that to us as she has had to carry the load for her club team. We've watched her essentially win sets by herself at times and her ability to point score as a physical attacker is very exciting. She is another outside who will thrive in our fast offense as she is very dynamic both vertically and laterally. We are excited to see her ability to transition to this level as a six rotation player.
Haley Schroeder | OH, 6-1, Tustin Calif.
The final incoming Gaucho is Tustin, Calif. native Haley Schroeder who comes to Santa Barbara after an incredible senior season at Arnold O. Beckman High School where she notched career-highs in kills (406), digs (147), and blocks (54) on her way to a Pacific Coast League MVP award. Schroeder led her Patriots to back-to-back league championships in her final two seasons, a CIF appearance in all four years, and as a freshman helped them to an appearance in the State Championship in 2016. Her best performance came this past October, when she slammed down 32 kills on Woodbridge High School to go along with three blocks and three aces.
Her high school career culminated with her being named both Pacific Coast League Female Scholar Athlete of the Year and Beckman High School Female Scholar Athlete of the Year.
"Haley brings all important intangibles of effort, engagement and energy to our program. Then you add the fact that she is a tall pin hitter who has a hammer of an arm," Lantagne Welch said. "She has shown that she will be able to be effective attacking from the left or the right and blocking comes very natural to her. She has six rotation potential and we have already seen her make strides in her serve receive and she will no doubt work extremely hard to develop that further."