The Olympic Winter Games held its Opening Ceremonies Friday. From Pyeongchang, South Korea, athletes will prove their talents to the world. The Games will inspire millions to take the next step in their athletic careers and achieve the seemingly impossible.
Closer to home at the Orlando Sports Center, athletes displayed their skills for college coaches to see. Orlando-Tampa Volleyball Academy (OTVA) hosted its inaugural PrepVolleyball.com Unsigned Showcase. Munciana’s Mike Lingenfelter directed the staff and athletes through a series of drills and testing to show off her skills.
While the athletes were showing their skills, Muncie’s recruiting coordinator, Patty Costlow, along with Division-I college coaches, facilitated a seminar to parents, and answered general questions pertaining to the recruiting process.
All 132 Showcase athletes were Floridians, save three, and showed how the state’s talent is growing.
Here are some athletes who had a golden outing in Orlando, with some observations from me, the staff, and college coaches in attendance:
Elizabeth “Paige” Massengale, 6-0 MB, WPVC 18 Elite, Class of 2018 – A high-reaching and long middle, Massengale has a great arm and can swing cross-body and wrist-away. She favors the “3” set and has great hand contact.
Danelle Branch, 5-8 OH, OTVA 17 L Ann Marie, Class of 2019 – This physical outside has shown improvement from when I’ve seen her in the summer. She is much more confident and has great hand contact. She is a great jumper, transitions quickly, and swings well from the right side or left.
Imani Hartfield, 5-9 MB, OTVA 17 S Red, Class of 2021 – She looks like a strong, small player, but then when the positions broke out, she was hard to miss as a middle. Hartfield jumps extremely well, has a fast wrist and leaps quickly off the ground.
Alisha Callender, 5-8 S, OTVA, Class of 2021 – It’s hard to believe this setter is a freshman. She has strong hands and doesn’t lose power when she jump-sets. Her delivery is smooth and she reverses well. I can sense a good amount of feistiness, or competitiveness. Several people pointed her out and said she is a “great athlete.”
Below are other athletes who stood out:
Class of 2018
Alyanna Correia, 5-2 Libero, WPVC Elite 18 Black
Skylar Martin, 5-10 OH, OTVA 18 S Eric – Went down with an ankle tweak at a beginning station, and came back; hard worker; tough
Class of 2019
Elizabeth Brown, 6-1 MB, OTVA 17 S Danny
Mary Lowe, 5-5 S, OTVA 17 Longwood
Kelly Markowski, 6-1 OH, OTVA 17 S Danny – good size; terminal attack
Sarah Merritt, 6-0 OH, OTVA 17 E Stephanie – long attacker, reaches high; controlled with shots; good hand contact; good serve receive passer
Emily Oerther, 5-11 S, OTVA 17 S Danny – positive communicator; works well with middles
Alyssa Pagan, 5-6 Libero, SoFlo VBA 17 Gold
Heather Pedrick, 5-10 RS, Ocala Power – lefty; fast arm, reaches high
Jordan Schmucker, 5-8 S, OTVA 17 Wave Britt – contacts the ball neutral
Jazmin Spencer, 5-7 OH, Thunder Bay 18 Blue
Addy Warfield, 5-8, S LVA 18 Elite
Class of 2020
Halle Block, 5-10 MB, OTVA 16 S TJ
Jessica Buis, 5-10 OH, OTVA – turns the ball line and off hands well
Emma Higgins, 5-8 S, OTVA N 16 Melito
Sophia Hriitz, 5-8 Libero, OTVA Wave 16 Nate – long and smooth; looks effortless and efficient
Simone Jackson, 5-6 Libero, Top Select 18 Elite Marcela
Emily Loose, 5-9 S, Vision VBC 16 National
Katerina (Kat) Negron, 5-8 OH, OTVA 16 L Isaac – great passing platform
Alexa Schmidt, 5-11 OH, OTVA 16 S Roberto
Tiana Stacy, 5-5 OH/Libero, Vision VBC 16 National – great communicator; moves well; good defender
Class of 2021
Madison Binkley, 6-0 OH, OTVA W 15
Ashley Ekes, 6-0 MB, OTVA 15 W Chad
Sophie Fedder, 5-11 RS, OTVA 15 Chad
Jordan Hardy, 5-6 Libero, OTVA 15 S Melito – quick and feisty; moves well and has good footwork; gets under a low ball on defense well
Rylie Patrick, 5-10 OH, NVL 16 Red – attacks on top of the ball; moves smoothly; also plays beach volleyball