FORT MYERS, Fla. - Florida Gulf Coast University volleyball coach Dave Nichols has announced the addition of six players for the 2011-2012 class.
"The 2012 recruiting class is solid," Nichols said. "I feel they will be able to come in and make an immediate impact on our team and in our league. As a whole, this class has a very high volleyball IQ and we are thrilled to have them join the FGCU Family."
Transfer Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS/Marshall) and incoming freshmen Gigi Meyer (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz HS), Whitney Masters (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown HS), Olivia Mesner (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River HS), Jill Hopper (Muncie, Ind./Wapahani HS) and Liga Strautniece (Riga, Lativa/Rigas Anglu Gimmazija) are expected to make a quick impact on the Blue and Green, who ended their four-year Division I transition period with a pair of Atlantic Sun regular season crowns and an overall record of 68-43 (.613).
With the losses of middle blockers Jacqueline Cowden (Danville, Calif./Monte Vista HS/Temple) and Chelsea Lyles (Colorado Springs, Col./Harrison HS/Western Nebraska CC); defensive specialist Alexa Napoleon (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS/Jacksonville); and outside hitters Emma Racila (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS/College of Charleston), Adrianne McNally (Howell, Mich./Pinckney HS) and Caitlin Shawver (Lauderdale by the Sea, Fla./Northeast HS/Barry) the Eagles have some big spots to fill.
Holm, a 6-2 outside hitter/middle blocker from Fort Myers, Fla., comes to FGCU from Conference USA’s Marshall University, where she started played in 25 sets for the Thundering Herd last season. Holm was released from her scholarship, meaning that she does not have to sit out a year, in accordance to the NCAA transfer rules, and is eligible to play for the Eagles in 2011.
The Fort Myers, Fla. native, who was apart of Marshall’s No. 29 recruiting class as ranked by PrepVolleyball.com on June 2 ,2010, tallied 82 points, 73 kills (2.21 per set), 17 digs and 13 blocks in her freshman campaign. She tallied career-highs in attack percentage (.317), kills (19) and points (20) in a 3-1 loss at SMU on November 5, 2010.
Holm attended Evangelical Christian HS, the high school current Eagle Holly Youngquist (Estero, Fla./Evangelical Christian), before finishing her junior and senior years at Fort Myers HS. She finished her high school career with two state championships. She earned first-team All-State recognition and finished her senior season with 297 kills, 68 total blocks and 41 service aces. She also garnered second team All-State honors on two occasions and was a three-time first team All-Area selection.
“Kaitlin is a really good player with a lot of skills, size and versatility,” said Nichols. “She can play three different positions and can be effective anywhere on the court.”
Meyer, a 5’6 setter, played at Gainesville-Buchholz for coach Jeff Reavis.
A first-team all-area selection as a junior, Meyer had 609 assists, 103 digs and 69 aces for Class 5A Buchholz as the Bobcats went 22-9 and into the regional finals. As a senior she led Buchholz with 362 service points and 826 assists, while also registering 171 digs, 69 kills, 56 aces and 10 blocks.
“Gigi is undersized, but makes up for it with athleticism and intelligence,” said Nichols. “She is an extremely accurate setter with excellent leadership skills and toughness.”
Masters played at Wapahani HS in Indiana, which finished the season with a 28-6 record and ranked 22nd in the state. The 5’7 libero/defensive specialist also plays for the Munciana club team.
“Whitney is a great libero, who can also play the outside position very effectively,” Nichols said. “Her passing and defense are spectacular.”
Mesner , 6’2 middle, played high school ball at Spanish River HS in Boca Rator, Fla. She finished the 2010 season with 217 kills, 56 digs, 41 service aces and 34 blocks for coach Karen Adams’ Spanish River squad.
“Olivia is a physical middle and is very experienced middle for a freshman,” aid Nichols. “She is an intelligent hitter and a very hard worker.”
Hopper, a member of the Munciana club team, played at Yorktown HS in Indiana, which finished the season with a 32-6 record and ranked sxth in the state. The 6’2 outside hitter/middle blocker finished her senior season with 534 kills (4.7/game), 264 digs, 58 total blocks, 37 service aces and 30 assists.
“Jill is a talented all around hitter, who also has excellent ball control,” Nichols said. “She has good height and can play three different positions, and play them all well.”
Strautniece is a 6’0 outside hitter from Latvia. She has played for her country’s national team for the past three years, participating in competitions in Russia, Germany and Poland.
“Liga is a very skilled player,” said Nichols. “She can play a couple different front row positions and also has solid ball control. She also has a really fast arm swing.”