WASHINGTON, D.C. — When the first session of the inaugural PrepVolleyball.com Washington DC Unsigned Showcase ended Friday night, Nikiya Mitchell was one of the last players to leave the arena.
It wasn’t because she was slow to change. Instead, it had everything to do with the reason she attended the event in the first place — to get noticed.
The senior from Lackey (Indian Head, Maryland) had a fist-full of handouts from college coaches and a line of coaches waiting to talk to her.
“I came here because the D1 and D2 coaches could see me on the spot, in a small group,” said Mitchell, who was named MVP of the event. “I’m glad I came,” she added with a smile, glancing at the brochures from several college coaches who approached her after the event.
Friday marked the first time a PrepVolleyball.com Unsigned Players Showcase was held in D.C., and with more than 450 in attendance, it was a great success, according to Jason Uller, the lead coach of the event who is an assistant coach with Metro 17 Travel. “This is an amazing turnout for a first-year event,” he said. “I’ve been involved in several recruiting showcases and I’ve never seen so many kids at a first-year event. … I’ve heard a lot of positive comments from college coaches and that could increase the number of players and coaches (in the future).”
While the players were displaying their skills for college recruiters, parents were invited to a recruiting seminar with a keynote from Maryland coach Steve Aird.
Athletes from three countries — U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico — attended the Unsigned Showcase, which was held the night before the start of the 900-team Capitol Hill Volleyball Classic.
While the Unsigned Showcase featured mostly underclass players, it was one last chance for high school teammates and seniors Dasia Smith and Ruby Tamunokuro to get noticed.
“I didn’t get the [interest] I was looking for [during the high school season], so I wanted to come here,” said Tamunokuro, who attends Milford Mill Academy (Baltimore, Maryland). “I came in shy and I had to make myself known.”
Smith added, “I learned I get shy and nervous, so I just had to try to have fun and be myself.”
Both said they were please with their performance.
In an event of 450 players, all seeking to grab the attention of college scouts, there were quite a few that stood out above the rest.
The following is a list of players that caught the attention of the coaches running the drills:
OVERALL MVP: Nikiya Mitchell, MB, CEVA 18s Black (Bryans Road, Maryland)
Class of 2017
Nikiya Mitchell, MB, CEVA 18s Black (Bryans Road, Maryland) — Coaches from four courts watched Mitchell and without hesitation said she stood out from the rest. Very high energy, very explosive to go along with being a very good teammate, encouraging others in her group.
Mumbi Murugi-Kamau, MB, Momentum Volleyball Club/18 Black (Columbia, Maryland) — Good swing and a solid blocker.
Kiera Parker, Libero, YMCA Lady Elite (Middletown, New York) — She moved really well and was one of the better players in her group.
Class of 2018
Kiara Adams, S, Downstate Juniors VBC/Downstate 17 Black (Peekskill, New York) — Fast hands, awesome feet and a quick release.
Samantha Balsamo, S, Atlantic Valley VBC 17 National (East Brunswick, New Jersey) — Communicated well and had very good sets.
Vivian Beaudoin, RS, CJVA 17 Black (Washington, New Jersey) — Tall, thin lefty who could play in the middle if she wasn’t left-handed.
Marlee Dzergoski, RS, Baltimore Elite 17U Navy (Manchester, Maryland) — Another tall player who was capable of pounding the ball.
Maddy Dunigan, MB, Legion Volleyball Club (Averill Park, New York) — Lanky and lean and could crank the ball. She was a very hard hitter.
Alicia Eldredge, S, Metro 17 Travel (Odenton, Maryland) — Great hustle, fantastic touch, strong hands.
Rebecca Frye, S, Virginia Juniors (Washington, D.C.) — Could do a lot with the ball. A very strong performer in the group.
Macquire Gubba, S, Revolution 18 Black (Grove City, Pennsylvania) — Nice hands, talks and plays solid defense.
Lindsay Johnson, RS, Xtreme Fusion (Henrietta, New York) — Jumped well and very hustled.
Susannah Johnson, RS, Husky National 17 (Southport, Connecticut) — Tall, thin lefty who was able to elevate and penetrate.
Lydia Jones, MB, Columbia Volleyball Club/Comets 18R (Glen Dale, Maryland) — Very athletic. Raw, but can really jump.
Katelyn Monghan, Libero, Cutshot 17 Elite (Park Ridge, New Jersey) — Very calm and composed. Always seemed to be in the right place.
Alanis Noemi, MB, Borinquen Coqui (San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico) — Exceptionally athletic with very good jumping ability. Coaches feel she has great potential.
Monet Peoples, Maryland Juniors 18 Elite (Cockeysville, Maryland) — A good blocker with good jumping ability.
Natalie Perez, Libero, Metro 17 Travel (Frederick, Maryland) — Very good serve-receive and had good technique.
Sydney Sheppard, S, Columbia Volleyball Club 18 (Odenton, Maryland) — Very consistent player.
Alyx Steitz, MB, Shenandoah Valley Juniors/Vipers 17-1 (Staunton, Virginia) — An all-round solid player with great footwork. She had a good rhythm to her approach.
Jennifer Williams, MB, Valley Juniors 18 (Staunton, Virginia) — Long, lean player who was explosive, vocal and could crank the ball.
April Wiseman, Libero, NC Volleyball Academy 17 Crystal A (Wake Forest, North Carolina) — Played with a lot of energy and was talking the entire time. She also stayed low.
Emily Wunder, RS, Xtreme Xplosion (Penn Yan, New York) — A tall right-sided player who was very good at setting.
Class of 2019
Abigail Carbajal, S, Premier Volleyball Club of Delaware (Newark, Delaware) — Good hands, good swing and could block.
Rebecca Dalstad, Libero, AVA U16 Eclipse (Zionsville, Pennsylvania) — Excellent defensive player.
Alexandra DeGaray, Libero, The Island Volleyball Academy (Huntington, New York) — Demonstrated a great serve, strong defense and a high energy player.
Stephanie Der, Libero, VA Juniors 16 Elite (Chantilly, Virginia) — In her rotation was a standout defender.
Sadie Dick, OH, Niagara Rapids 16U Black (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada) — Moves exceptionally well for her size. She jumps well and has a heavy arm.
Emani Foster, MB, Jammers Volleyball Club (Henderson, North Carolina) — Possesses a good arm swing and she’s very fast.
Camille Honeycutt, OH, AC Sandhills 17 Black (Pinehurst, North Carolina) — Showed off a great vertical during the drills.
Nicolette Marino, Libero, SOSVBC 16-1 (Verona, New Jersey) — She was everywhere on the court.
Cecilia Marquez, RS, Borinquen Coqui (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) — Great hands, great effort, communicated well and has strong skills.
Simone Newell, OH, Stealth 16 Nationals (Stafford, Virginia) — Emerged as the top hitter in her group.
Claudia Rivera, OH, Borinquen Coqui (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) — Jumped well with a lot of power. She was one of the top underclassmen at the event.
Adriana Ross, MB, Beach Elite 16 Black (Virginia Beach, Virginia) — Another middle blocker with a good vertical. She has a consistent arm swing.
Class of 2020
Victoria Barrett, OH, FJVC 15 National (Stafford, Virginia) — One coach stated: “She can jump through the roof.” Also, she showed the ability to dig the ball, as well.
Sarah Franklin, MB, Palm Beach Juniors 15 Elite (Lake Worth, Florida) — Very tall and able to put balls away.
Stacia Gollogly, MB, Washington County Juniors 16U Hurricanes (Boonsboro, Maryland) — Lanky, athletic blocker who liked to call for the ball.