Thanks for your interest in the Showcase (and for attending if you did). No one can see everyone. Below is the story we will publish on Prep this morning highlighting those players we saw. Perhaps you'll add them to your list to take a look at this weekend.
PS: DON'T FORGET: if you get a commitment from a kid who participated last night, absolutely let us know!
Senior Standouts Showcased in Las Vegas
The Sixth Annual PrepVolleyball.com Unsigned Senior Showcase on Friday at the Las Vegas Convention Center was the best one yet, as 750 seniors looking for collegiate homes showed off for well over 200 colleges and universities.
“The talent pool was great,” said American University (Washington, D.C.) assistant coach Sarah Bernson. “I liked how it was organized by positions. We got to see lots of reps. There were some players there that I knew about beforehand, so I got a chance to see their reps. There are a few others that I will follow now that I did not know before.”
An all-volunteer parent staff helped the check-in process go smoothly (thank you!) and then our coaching veterans, guided by head trainer Ki Yi, took over, putting three groups of about 250 seniors each through drills encompassing approximately 90 minutes.
PrepVolleyball.com walked the courts continuously looking for players who caught our eye. While we couldn’t be everywhere and have been told by college coaches that the talent was strong throughout, here are some players who, in our judgment excelled.
At the libero courts, Jenna Park, who stands 5-7 and plays for Oahu 18 Tommy, immediately impressed with her efficient movement and steady passing platform.
Funny how it turns out that the three other liberos we jotted down also were Hawaiians. Two play for the same Hilina’I Volleyball 18s club. Alyssa Koki is really athletic and moves effortlessly, while Kiana Grady is a confident passer with a rock solid platform. The third was Arielle Bothelo of Laule’a.
On the setting courts, we observed that Aimee Kyed, who stands 5-8 and sets for Club V 18 Xena, is a superior athlete. We loved the hands on San Diego VBC setter Brooke Wheeler.
Saddleback Valley’s Tara Stuhr is a taller setter (5-10) who jump set everything, while Sarah Rosinke, a 5-10 setter on Fort Bend Fire 18 Mizuno, showed good hustle and attitude and, most importantly, the ability to deliver the ball to target.
We caught up with 5-9 setter Jessika Long, a three-time Utah All-State performer, between sessions. Setting for Club V 18 Bane, Long said, “My goal is to get seen by quite a few coaches so that they know me better. I want to find a competitive and elite program that I can win at.”
Cal State San Bernardino head coach Kim Cherniss was camped on the setting courts, searching for the right fit for her Coyotes, one of the top Division II programs in the nation. She was impressed by what she saw, both in terms of talent and the organization of the event.
“I think this is the best year I’ve seen yet,” noted the veteran coach. “The pace is a little more relaxed. I can definitely see more reps by kids and I think the coaches are doing a better job of letting the play speak for itself. Without question the kids are getting an opportunity to be seen. If a kid’s good enough, and there’s a coach looking for someone in that position, they should get picked up here.”
Ironically, one of the best setters Showcasing, Peyton Moyles, sets the 18s team for the Rancho Valley Volleyball Club that Cherniss helps to run. Cherniss would love to have Moyles in a collegiate uniform, but the senior, who was a four-year starter for Redlands East Valley and set National Player of the Year Krista Vansant (Washington) for two years, wants to go away for college. Too bad for Cherniss, but a stroke of good fortune for the school lucky enough to land her!
There were quite a few middles who touched in the 9-10 range last night. Understand what that means: these kids were jumping on concrete reaching for a pole attached to a net in a stressful showcase environment. If you touched 9-10 under those circumstances, you were definitely someone who could touch 10-0 or higher.
One of those big leapers was 5-11 Deij’a Martin from Club Canyon 18-1 in Idaho. Martin looked at ease hitting the slide and showed good elevation in all her reps.
Arizona Desert Sky’s Amanda Conlin was the player generating the most buzz at the Showcase. The 6-2 middle, a three-time Arizona shot put champion, touched 9-10, had arm pits above the net while doing a blocking drill and demonstrated the power that makes college coaches salivate. Conlin had committed to Portland State to play volleyball and put the shot, but issues surrounding her dual participation caused her never to sign a National Letter of Intent with the Vikings.
“I just want to do my best and play how I play,” Conlin said about her Showcase tryout. “I want to get noticed and it’s nice to meet new people out here. Hopefully there’s a place out there for me.”
Leah Causey, a 6-1 middle from CSA Black 18-1, showed off a live arm and good jumping ability. Bailey Neubauer, from SG Elite 18 Elite, showed off raw power. CVA Colorado 18-1 middle Lauren Cole should get more looks after a nice showing. Vasati Fiatoa, a 6-0 middle from CSA Black 18-1, was a high energy player who used her muscular legs to rise effortlessly. Taylor Valentine, a Hawaiian from Lanikai Athletic Club, showed a nice snap.
Another Hawaiian, 6-2 middle Regal Deen, was watching the 6 on 6 in Session 2 and preparing to showcase her ability at 7:30. Deen was a standout for the Seabury Hall team that dominated the first two sets of the Hawaii Division 2 final before falling in five to St. Francis.
“It got too serious on the court,” she said. “We were super excited then it kind of set in that we were almost there.”
Her goals for the Showcase?
“Not be nervous and show what I have,” she said. “I have the next three days to play with people I’m comfortable with; I want to see how I am with people I’m not familiar with. I hope I have the confidence and everything I have learned from seven years of playing to put on this court.”
One piece of unsettling news was an injury to Clark County junior middle Courtney Atkins, who hurt her knee when she landed awkwardly on a slide. This is the first documented injury in the six-year history of the Showcase, which designs drills with absolute safety in mind. Initial reports from the trainer was that the injury wasn’t too serious. We wish Atkins all the best.
Among outsides, Atkins’ club teammate, 5-10 Bailee Cragun, was one of several strikers who impressed. The Vancouver, Washington product showed off high energy and a point-scoring arm swing. The all-league performer and area kill leader, who admitted to a lack of familiarity with the recruiting process, used the Showcase to try to get noticed.
“I’ve been emailing coaches but don’t know too much about how to get my name out there,” she said. “It’s hard for me because I don’t know what level I should be looking at.”
One player who knows she should be playing D-I is Oregon Juniors’ powerful OH Shelby Vasconcellos-Mattocks, who gave up playing basketball for Clackamas HS so that she could focus on pursing a Division-I opportunity.
“I want to study engineering so I kind of have to go D1 if I want to do that,” she said.
AZ Desert Sky OH Lauren Anderson signed an NLI with Georgia Southern last fall. She was at the Showcase and wowing with her terminating ability after being released from her obligation due to an ACT issue. This talent is sure to be picked up.
In the 4:30 session, we liked the leaping ability and power potential of Ariana Holmes from Pacific Juniors. Puget Sound’s Maddie Davis looked good. Rykki Rudd of LV Impact showed off athleticism and a nice swing and Elite VBC’s Laurel Weaver showed she can get the job done.
In the later sessions, there were lots of eyes on athletic, feisty Keeley Davis from Austin Juniors. On the same court, Aspire’s Stephany Purdue and Central Cal’s Hailey Jennings also showed off their potential.
Brooke Butler, who plays for 805 Elite in California’s Central Coast, hit as heavy a ball as we saw on the outside and she did so consistently.
“My goal is to find a college that fits me so I can pursue my dream,” said Butler, who led her team in kills in every game and nearly duplicated that feat in the digging department.
Butler, who is open to any opportunity, says that what sets her apart isn’t her magical arm.
“It’s my heart for wanting to play and wanting every ball,” she explained.
Sunshine South Bay’s Alexis Millington, Catalyst’s Megan Rockwell, Aspire’s Kasey Kiefer and American Volleyball’s Ivana Escobedo all deserve mention for their work on the courts.
Lisa Tuggle of Colorado Springs Altitude showed nice rise and good hitting. Tejas OH Kendal Davis impressed with a live arm.
Finally, on the right, Club V’s Amber Klepacz impressed with her springiness and heart, Temecula’s Taylor Schade demonstrated how to hit hard and Spiral 18 Black’s long 6-1 Alexandria Hasenstab was so good that many were shocked she was one of just three on her club team without a college destination as yet.
Like we said at the top, this is just a smattering of the talent we saw at the Showcase last night. My thanks to the coaches and our staff for putting on the Showcase, to the college coaches for coming out en masse and to the participants, I hope we can play a small part in making your dreams come true!