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PULLMAN - Six exceptional high school senior volleyball players will play at Washington State University next season, Cougar Head Coach Jen Greeny announced Wednesday. Five young women have signed a National Letter of Intent and one player has already been accepted to WSU and will join the team.
The Cougar volleyball class of 2013 includes Emmy Allen, a 6-2 outside hitter from Mill Creek, Wash., Hailey Bethune, a 6-0 outside hitter from Stockton, Calif., Taylor Ellingsen, a 5-7 defensive specialist from Spokane, Wash., Kyra Holt, a 6-1 outside hitter from Hercules, Calif., Haley MacDonald, a 5-11 setter from Bothell, Wash., and Tani Stephens, a 5-7 defensive specialist from Albany, Ore.
"Assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Burdette Greeny should be credited for much of the hard work in securing this projected Prep Volleyball top 25 recruiting class," Cougar Head Coach Jen Greeny said. "From the day he was hired this 2013 class has been his focus. These recruits have said Burdette is easy and fun to talk to, is an amazing communicator, and is extremely passionate about Washington State and Pullman. Burdette cares not only about a player's skills in the recruiting process but also about each individual and if they will fit in with our team core values. Burdette has emerged as one of the best recruiting coordinators in the country and it definitely shows with the amount of talent and character in this 2013 class."
Emmy Allen is a 6-2 senior outside hitter at Jackson High School (Mill Creek, Wash.) and with fellow Cougar signee Haley MacDonald led the Timberwolves to the third place finish at the 2012 Washington 4A State Championship Tournament. During her four years of varsity volleyball, Jackson High won the state 4A championship (2010) and placed eighth (2009) and fourth (2011). Allen is currently ranked 61st in PrepVolleyball.com's Top 100 players in the nation and was a PrepVolleyball.com Top 25 Sophomore of the Year national finalist in 2010. She was an all-tournament selection at the USAV national championships playing for the Washington Volleyball Academy club team. Allen is on the 2012 Under Armour High School All-America Watch List. Allen was recruited by Colorado State, San Diego, Oregon State, USF, Georgia, Arkansas, Pacific, San Diego State, Miami (FL), UNLV, and Alabama.
Why WSU? "I believed in the vision this coaching staff had for the program. I also loved the support for athletics throughout the community. It was unlike anywhere else that I visited."
Head Coach Jen Greeny said, "Emmy has the chance to make an immediate impact on this program from day one. She possesses a very solid all-around game. She is smart offensively, is an adept passer, and has an overall high volleyball IQ. From Dave Weitl with WVBA, her older sister and high school coach Ashley Allen, and former US National Team coach Bill Neville, Emmy has had great mentors influence her game. Her personality will make being around this team fun every day. She was highly recruited by schools all across the country and we feel extremely blessed she chose us."
6'0 - Outside Hitter - Stockton, Calif. - Lincoln HS
Hailey Bethune is a 6-0 senior outside hitter at Lincoln High School in Stockton, Calif. Her 5.5 kills per set led the Trojans to an undefeated 2012 season and the San Joaquin Athletic Association championship, the third title of her four seasons of varsity volleyball. Bethune was named the SJAA Newcomer of the Year in 2009 and was the MVP in 2010 and 2012. She was selected the SJAA Outside Hitter of the Year in 2011. Bethune was named a PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace. As a member of the Northern California Volleyball Club, Bethune played in six consecutive Junior Olympics, was selected to the USAV Youth A2 Team. She has a 4.27 grade point average and earned four academic letters. Bethune plans to study bioengineering at WSU. Bethune was recruited by San Francisco, Santa Clara, Pacific, UC Irvine, Oregon State, Boise State, Colorado State, Tennessee, North Carolina, St. Mary's, Utah and Florida.
Why WSU? "I chose WSU because I enjoyed the family atmosphere that surrounds the entire campus. I liked the commitment and dedication Jen and Burdette had to the program with being WSU alums. I wanted to be a part of the Pac-12 and have the opportunity to play against these good teams, many of which have players on their team that I have faced through my seven years of club volleyball and would like to continue to play against. I liked the attitude of the players on the team and wanted to play with them."
Head Coach Jen Greeny said, "We believe Hailey will also help us right away. She can terminate an attack and her blocking is instinctual and something that is hard to teach. Hailey is someone we think gets better every time we see her, as she was trained well by her club coaches at NCVC, Jeff and Kristi Deter. She is someone we saw from two courts away at the very first tournament we went to when we were hired late last March. We love Hailey's commitment to academics and competitive nature. They are two things that fit right in to what type of person we want in this program. Hailey had many high level programs across the nation recruiting her and we are thankful she chose us."
5'7 - Defensive Specialist - Spokane, Wash. - Mead HS
Taylor Ellingsen is a 5-7 senior outside hitter from Mead High School in Spokane, Wash. During her three seasons on the varsity team the Panthers won three Greater Spokane League championships and competed in three 4A state tournaments with a third place finish in 2010 and a runner-up finish in 2012, losing in the fifth set 15-13. Ellingsen played on the Splash Volleyball Club for the past five years and the club took fifth place in the U-18 at the 2012 Pacific Northwest Qualifier. She has participated in High Performance Programs from 2008 through 2010. Ellingsen has a 4.0 grade point average and is Mead's Valedictoian, ranking first out of 440 seniors. She is a fourth generation Washington State student-athlete. Her family boasts a long line of distinguished Cougars including her great grandfather Carl "Tuffy" Ellingsen, a football, baseball and boxing standout who was inducted into the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1980, grandfather Jim Ellingsen, a golfer, and father Ron Ellingsen, a tennis player. Great uncle Don Ellingsen competed in football and track and was inducted into the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984. She plans to pursue a pre-med course of study at WSU.
Why WSU? "WSU is an amazing school! My entire family went to WSU and I grew up knowing that one day, I would be a Coug too. I fell in love with the campus when I was little and coming down to every football game. Now that I'm older I realize that WSU is also perfect for me academically. I plan to pursue a career in medicine and the curriculum at WSU is perfect for me. I want to be with like-minded individuals who have the same goals and I feel that WSU offers me that opportunity. I will be joining my sisters and cousins who are currently attending WSU and it will be awesome to be the next generation of Ellingsens that carry on the WSU family tradition!"
Head Coach Jen Greeny said, "Taylor is very athletic with excellent footwork and a strong defensive game, not to mention court sense. She is someone we have had our eye on for the last year and her legendary Washington high school coach at Mead, Judy Kight, has done a tremendous job with Taylor. We love Taylor's personality and think what she brings as a person is going to make our entire gym better. Taylor is also number one academically in her class of over 400 students and again this is something that is important to us. She has Cougar blood running through her and as a staff we put an extremely high value on people who, like Taylor, choose Washington State, not because they don't have other options, but because they believe there is no other place that is better."
6'1 - Outside Hitter - Hercules, Calif. - Mead HS
Kyra Holt (pronounced kai-rah) is a 6-1 senior outside hitter from Hercules, Calif., attending Albany High School. She is a three-time MVP of the Bay Shore Athletic League and led her Cougars team to two BSAL titles. Albany also won the North Coast Section title in 2011 and Holt was selected the MVP of the NCS as well as MVP of the North Coast Section Div. III. She is a two-time East Bay Sports Player of the Year. Holt is currently ranked 44th in PrepVolleyball.com's Top 100 players in the nation. She is on the 2012 Under Armour High School All-America Watch List. Holt played on the Payes Performance Volleyball Club that finished third out of 32 teams in the 17-Open field at the 2011 USA Junior National Championships. She was one of 15 players selected to the USAV Junior National All-Tournament Team. She is interested in communications and business as possible majors at WSU. Among the schools Holt was recruited by were Colorado State, Dayton, Miami (FL), and TCU.
Why WSU? "I chose to attend Washington State University because I found a diverse friendly university that would allow me to blossom and reach my full potential. As a student-athlete, I have been recruited by many colleges and universities across the country. When I began my interactions with the WSU volleyball staff I felt a genuine connection with them. I knew very early in the process that the WSU volleyball program was the one for me. I know that this wonderful staff will help me grow and I will work hard to help make the team at Washington State University the best ever."
Head Coach Jen Greeny said, "The sky is the limit for Kyra. She has helped change programs into winners wherever she has been. We believe she will help do the same here at Washington State. Kyra is a powerful attacker, a big block, and someone who also seems to get better every time she steps foot on the court. Former WSU player, Jen Canevari Agresti, has been a huge factor in Kyra's development. Kyra has put in a lot of extra time and effort and has really improved her back court game as well. We look for players whose fire burns for the game and want to be the one to build a program - Kyra is that player. She chose us early in the recruiting process and we are grateful for that as Kyra had countless programs across the country recruiting her."
5'11 - Setter - Bothell, Wash. - Jackson HS
Haley MacDonald is a 5-11 senior setter at Jackson High School (Mill Creek, Wash.) and with fellow Cougar signee Emmy Allen led the Timberwolves to the third place finish at the 2012 Washington 4A State Championship Tournament. During her four years of varsity volleyball, Jackson High won the state 4A championship (2010) and placed eighth (2009) and fourth (2011). She was a four-time All-WESCO first team selection and on the Seattle Times All-Star team in 2011. MacDonald was a PrepVolleyball.com Sophomore 79, which lists the top 79 sophomores playing volleyball on varsity teams nationally, and was named a PrepVolleyball.com's Senior Ace. She is on the 2012 Under Armour High School All-America Watch List. MacDonald played for the Island Thunder Volleyball Club. MacDonald was recruited by Purdue, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Oregon State among others.
Why WSU? "I chose WSU because of the potential the team has as well as the coaches' love for The Lord, passion for the program, and determination for change."
Head Coach Jen Greeny said, "Haley was the first player in this class to commit. This is significant to us and always will be because her belief in us helped other very good players in this class consider us. Haley has great hands and her humility makes her a natural leader, which are two great attributes to have in a setter. We have known about her since her freshman year at Jackson and liked her the first time we saw her. Within a week of visiting WSU, Haley knew this was the place for her. She had many options from good programs across the U.S. and she chose Washington State. Haley meshes perfectly into what we're looking for in a player ?“ passionate with a servant's mentality."
5'7 - Defensive Specialist - Albany, Ore. - West Albany HS
Tani Stephens is a 5-7 senior outside hitter and setter at West Albany High School in Albany, Ore., and led her Bulldog team to the 2012 Oregon 5A state championships after being runners-up in 2011, and third and fourth place her freshman and sophomore years. Stephens was named co-MVP of the 2011 and 2012 state championship matches as well as being named to the All-State Tournament first team twice and the second team once. The Bulldogs were undefeated in Mid-Willamette Valley League play for three consecutive seasons and only lost one match her freshman year. Stephens was a three-time MWV League MVP. She was the Women's AA Doubles Champion and Advanced Coach/Player Champion at the Seaside, Oregon Beach Volleyball Tournament. Stephens played on the Oregon Northwest Juniors 18 Air Elite Club team that was the 2012 Regional champions. She carried a 3.74 grade point average and is a member of the National Honor Society. Stephens was recruited by Oregon State, Portland State and Montana State.
Why WSU? "The main reasons I chose WSU were the coaches and players. I saw their vision for the program and wanted to be a part of it! The coaches and players made me feel at home when I was there visiting and I also like the campus and atmosphere at WSU."
Head Coach Jen Greeny said, "We believe Tani is a sleeper and has the potential to be one of the best players to ever come through Washington State in her position. While she can play multiple positions, her future is in the back row for us. She has an uncanny ability to read and is a phenomenal defensive player. Tani's club coach at Oregon Northwest Juniors, Rod Jones, has done a good job of refining her skills. Tani is a gym rat with a great work ethic and similar to the other five players in this class, is competitive and loves the game of volleyball. We knew immediately after watching her practice that she fits into what we want to do here - make Washington State a Top 25 program year in and year out."