Below please find the top 100 volleyball recruits in the Class of 2017, from 100 to 1. Please refer to the Prologue, published two weeks ago today, for information on how the list was compiled.
100. Keyton Kinley, 5-6 Libero, Lafayette (Lexington, Kentucky), Lexington United -- Tennessee
A former high-level setter, Kinley transitioned to defense after her freshman year and has made tremendous strides in the position. A natural athlete with cat-like reflexes, Kinley is great at reading hitters and she treats every opponent’s swing as a personal vendetta against her and her team. She has a fearless “can-do” attitude and sees every dig as an opportunity. From the service line she can deliver balls to ANY spot on the court, whether it is short, deep or driven. Kinley passes half the court and is a leader with poise and maturity. Her elite setter ability also adds to her unique skill set in the back row. A feisty competitor up for any challenge, Kinley’s blend of physical ability and mental awareness should provide a stable component for the defensive back court immediately for the University of Tennessee, where she has committed.
99. Steph Gaston, 6-5 RS, Papillion-La Vista (Papillion, Nebraska), Premier -- Creighton
Tall, long and left-handed, Gaston is a natural on the right side. She intimidates as a blocker because she takes up so much of the court. She attacks the first-tempo ball with a swift southpaw strike that opposing blockers just don’t see and at angles they cannot defend. A leader voted team captain the past two seasons, Gaston is hard-working and coachable on the court and a person of service off of it. She’s the kind of passionate, compassionate player you want in your clubhouse. Creighton, where Gaston has committed, is lucky to get her. As she adds strength, Gaston’s power potential should be realized. The Bluejays could eventually have something very, very special.
98. Naomi Hickman, 6-4 MB, Free State (Lawrence, Kansas), KC Power -- Creighton
Ever improving, Hickman takes a cerebral approach to the game. She analyzes her opponents then adjusts as necessary to capitalize on their weaknesses. Hickman burns to be better and is always putting in the work. That has paid off in transition, which now is one of the strongest elements to her game. Pairing her long frame with extremely efficient footwork, she's always available and ready to terminate. Hickman has power and the frame to be even more physical as she matures. Her length makes her block massive. Look for Hickman to contribute quickly at Creighton, where she has committed, and become a force in the middle as she continues to improve.
97. Makena Patterson, 6-4 MB, Xavier College Prep (Phoenix, Arizona), AZ Storm – Texas A&M
Patterson is a tall middle with long arms and plenty of high-level playing experience. She is a star for Arizona power Xavier College Prep and played up on the AZ Storm club team that was one of the best of all time. The daughter of Steve Patterson, who played center in the NBA for five years, Patterson’s mobility and high reach make her a welcome and frequent target for setters. Her attacking ability is steadily improving. As a blocker, she defends the net with ferocity and confidence. Patterson has committed to Texas A&M and will be the tallest Aggie middle in more than a decade. Hard-working and focused, she is a strong contender to start from Day 1 in College Station.
96. Rachel Ritchie, 6-1 OH, San Juan Hills (San Juan Capistrano, California), A4 Volley – LMU
Committed to the game and ever-striving to improving her mastery of it, this former middle blocker has worked so hard on her first-contact skills that she now is a true six-rotation outside. That ability, combined with pure power from the front row and back, makes her a complete player, the kind who can side out with great efficiency by passing serve and finishing the point with a booming spike. Ritchie has committed to Loyola Marymount University and could be a prolific scorer for the Lions with her increasing range as a hitter. She’ll have the chance to play early at LMU and will outwork her competition to make sure to capitalize on the opportunity.
95. Sophia Howling, 6-2 MB, Venice (California), Actyve VBC – Hawaii
A dynamic athlete with explosive movements vertically and laterally, the strong and slender Howling has great potential in the middle and on the pin. Terrific off of one foot, Howling is effective running a variety of quick sets. She also is versatile enough to step outside and attack higher pin sets with great effectiveness. Howling’s long arms and defensive instincts give her the potential to both set and close blocks efficiently. She also is a force to be reckoned with from the service line. Howling can move the ball around with a float serve that can knock an opponent back or freeze them in their tracks. A leader by example, Howling is a very good teammate who celebrates her teammates’ successes even more than she does her own. She has committed to Hawaii and is the kind of athlete the Rainbow Wahine can turn into a collegiate star.
94. Camille Conner, 6-1 S, Seven Lakes (Katy, Texas), Houston Skyline – Texas A&M
Conner is a physical setter with great size. She consistently runs a quick-tempo offense and has mastered the ability to force a good ball to the middle in out-of-system play. Formerly an outstanding attacker, this lefty is a major offensive threat and a strong blocker. She has gained consistency in her setting with more reps and has confidence in her ability to set all of her hitters, thus utilizing them to maximum efficiency. A hard worker, natural leader and three-year captain of her high school team, Conner is committed to Texas A&M and is a perfect fit in a system that likes attacking setters.
93. Raleigh Clark, 6-3 MB, Charlotte Country Day (Charlotte, North Carolina), CJV – North Carolina
A 10-0 toucher with quick twitch running all through her, Clark is blessed with a great physicality and a tremendous desire to improve. She is a dynamic athlete with long arms, strong legs, good lateral speed and a cannon for an arm. She is able to hit in front of the setter and behind. She has a scary jump float serve. As a blocker, what is most impressive is how much court she takes away from opposing hitters. Clark is a leader by example on the court by the intensity and aggressiveness she brings to every practice and match. She has an insatiable appetite to improve and perform at the highest level possible. A player with a massive ceiling, Clark has the kind of untapped potential all coaches want to have. With a history of All-Conference middles, North Carolina, where she has committed, will expect Clark to contribute greatly in the years to come.
92. Taylor Bebout, 5-11 S, Bellmont (Decatur, Indiana), Munciana – Western Kentucky
Bebout is a physically strong setter with a ton of experience playing at the highest levels. She has soft hands and puts up a very hittable ball to the pins and has a knack for finding her middles even in the most difficult situations. As tough as they come and ultra-competitive, what she might lack in quickness Bebout more than makes up for with ingenuity and the way she processes what’s happening both on her side of the net and the other side. A flat out winner who has dedicated every aspect of her athletic life to the sport of volleyball, Bebout always rises to the occasion and always makes her teams better. Bebout has committed to Western Kentucky, which has had four All-America setters. Bebout has the tools to make it five.
91. Avery Rhodes, 6-2 MB, Midway (Waco, Texas), Waco Juniors – Iowa State
A high flyer with explosive lateral speed, Rhodes is one of only a very few who can block above 10 feet. She makes playing the game look easy when moving side to side and her ability to be “in your face” in a flash alters every opponent’s attack. Her eye work and blocking technique are far beyond her years. “She has a nose for the ball,” commented high school coach Ryan Porter. “She has matched up across the net from the biggest and best middles and they have a hard time keeping up with her.” Along with her closing speed, Rhodes has the ability to transition into offense seamlessly. She has the rare ability to block on the pin and then run a 0 tempo set all the way across the net. A true student of the game, Rhodes watches hours of game film every week from the best in the world and has the ability to adopt pieces that apply to her game, making her is a constantly evolving player. Very coachable, hard-working and the kind of player, especially on offense, who is still scratching the surface of her maximum potential, Rhodes is the perfect mix of size and athleticism for the system at Iowa State, where she has committed.
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90. Sarah Billiard, 6-0 OH/RS, Covenant Day School (Matthews, North Carolina), CJV -- Virginia
All-State in both volleyball and basketball, Billiard is an under-the-radar player with great potential. Long, athletic and with a big jump, she hits over and around blocks and is effective from either pin. Billiard might be a right side in college, because she has the tools to be a shutdown blocker. A positive role model and the hardest of hard workers, Billiard is smart in the classroom and on the court, where her high volleyball IQ allows her to take coaching easily and transfer it to her play. She is committed to Virginia and could play early for the ’Hoos.
89. Allye Beth Deaton, 6-2 OH/RS, Midway (Waco, Texas), Skyline Juniors -- TCU
A gym rat with all the tools, Deaton’s pure strength, power and agility make her one of the most well-rounded players in the country. With a wicked fast arm that scores on quick tempo sets or high balls out of system, Deaton is at home on either pin and is a big-time scorer out of the back row. She has the ability to swing the momentum of any match with a perfectly placed shot or terminate a rally with a hammer over or through the smallest of holes. Her ability to read assists both her big block and her exceptional back row play. Deaton has incredible range on defense, anticipating where the ball is going to go before the hitters know themselves! She makes the most difficult of digs appear effortless and turns out of system plays into points. Her passing is rock solid and not even the best placed serve can best her athleticism and spirit. “She is the most complete player I’ve ever been blessed to coach and cannot wait to see her take her talents to the next level,” said high school coach Ryan Porter. “She is the type of person and player every coach hopes and dreams of coaching at some point in their career.” Deaton also is dedicated – she travels more than two hours one way to practice with her club team – smart, possesses leadership skills and expects much of herself. There will be a void in the lineup due to graduation next year at Texas Christian, where Deaton has committed. Expect her to fill it as she embarks on an exceptional career.
88. Kaity Smith, 6-1 OH, Randall Cooper (Union, Kentucky), Lexington United – Virginia Tech
A middle blocker until last year, Smith made an immediate impact last club season as a six-rotation player and go-to attacker on the left side. Smith has taken her middle blocker tempo to the pin and uses her rocket of an arm to hit a very fast tempo ball that gives teams trouble. Lots of it. A versatile player who is very effective off attacking off of one foot or two, Smith is hard working and an improving passer with a very high ceiling. Goal-driven, she met her expectations with the transition to the pin and exceeded everyone’s expectations for her. Look for her to continue her ascendancy at Virginia Tech, where she should play early and thrive.
87. Tiana Jackson, 6-2 MB, Ft. Zumwalt North (O’Fallon, Missouri), Team Momentum – Florida State
Short on volleyball experience, having only taken up the sport three years ago, Jackson is an exceptional athlete with huge potential in volleyball. Jackson was a multi-sport athlete growing up and has quick reactions and an easy jump that takes her to 10-4 off the ground. Very few players her age can take an approach jump and hang on the basketball rim with two hands, but Jackson makes it look easy. On offense, Jackson is a threat to score from all points along the net but especially likes to run quick sets and slides to generate consistent results. Waiting at the net like a coiled snake she also frustrates her opponent’s hitters and takes pride in her blocking. A hard worker and very coachable, Jackson craves extra reps in practice and is the kind of player who always puts the team first. Headed early to Florida State, Jackson has the physical tools and dedication to improve rapidly in a Seminole uniform and become a dominant player in the ACC.
86. Candice Denny, 6-2 MB, Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, California), Encore – Arizona
Denny is a smooth, fluid athlete who couples an elite arm with terrific third-contact control and outstanding speed. She attacks off one leg about as well as any player in the class, using long strides to get quickly behind the setter and a wicked arm swing and snap to put the ball down before the defense has a chance to get set. You can block her line and she will crush angle. Block her angle and she will kill you line. Denny isn’t your broad-shouldered physical middle. She is slick and quick and gets up quickly and with elevation on the block. Her serve also is tough to receive. Denny’s back row defense is improving, thanks to time spent on the beach. She could be an asset at Arizona, where she has committed, in the middle or on the right side.
85. Meegan Hart, 6-2 MB, Rosary (Aurora, Illinois), Club Fusion – Iowa State
Quick-twitch with long, long limbs, Hart moves quickly side to side to close blocks and uses her 10-2 leap to shut down hitters at the net. A maturing offensive player who will get more physical as she gains strength, Hart gets off the ground quickly and can score hitting several tempos and at many points along the net. Hart is a threat from the serving line, with a jump float that keeps a lot of teams out of system. She also is smart, versatile, has a great court sense and is an unselfish team-first player everyone loves to be around. The best part about Hart is that her very good game today will almost certainly morph into an exceptional one at Iowa State, where she has committed. That’s something for Cyclone fans to get very excited about!
84. Morgan Davis, 6-4 MB, Bishop Moore (Orlando, Florida), Top Select- Texas A&M
Davis is a high-energy middle whose height and strength make her a very physical blocker who occupies a lot of the net. She blocks big, both because of her height and 10-3 jump, but the things that set her apart are her drive and passion. Her “go-getter” attitude and team-first approach make her a dream recruit. She’s the kind of player who changes the tone on the court every time she enters the game. Davis, who also was a highly recruited basketball player, has good footwork and is more mobile than most ”bigs.” She works hard as an attacker and is fiercely competitive. A leader who always wants more, look for Davis to be a coach and fan favorite at Texas A&M, where she has committed.
83. Payton Schwantz, 5-11 OH, Frisco (Texas), TAV -- Duke
At 5-11, one might expect to peg Schwantz as a great ball-control, six-rotation outside. And she certainly is an elite defensive player. But Schwantz is so much more! She has a tremendous arm and knows how to use it. Schwantz hits with savvy and strength, and carried TAV to the 17 Open title in Indianapolis. A competitor with no fear about taking the big swings, Schwantz is a point scorer pure and simple with a powerful jump serve to boot. She is a high character player who loves to train and thrives in the face of adversity. Duke University, where she has committed, is getting a good one!
82. Anna Stevenson, 6-1 MB/OH, Laurens (South Carolina), Upward Stars -- Auburn
Stevenson is a high-flying, hard-working middle blocker who is constantly striving to improve. With an approach touch exceeding 10-4 and swift floor movement, she has unmatched athletic ability. Offensively, Stevenson is excellent in transition and dominating in serve-receive. A fierce competitor, she has the ability to hit show-stopping attacks that can bring a crowd to its feet as well as hit for a high percentage, thus demonstrating consistency and mastery of her position. A quick and explosive jumper who is becoming more cerebral, Stevenson is a shut-down blocker who anticipates what the opposing setter is trying to accomplish and takes it away. She will compete for her team on every point. She can and will do whatever a team needs her to do to win. Committed to Auburn University, Stevenson should make an immediate impact on the Plains.
81. Kendyl Paris, 6-3 MB, Hilliard Davidson (Hilliard, Ohio), Mintonette -- Kentucky
At age 7, Paris wasn’t strong enough to throw the ball over the net from the 10-foot line. Just look at her now! Paris not only has the lateral speed to close blocks pin to pin but also has the agility and athleticism to transition to be a pin hitter. Hard working and very competitive, Paris has great vision as an attacker. She scores consistently around blocks and can hit off of one foot or two feet with equal effectiveness. She is a very mature read blocker with ability beyond her years. “Kendyl’s commitment to getting better every single practice has allowed her to become a tremendous leader and will serve her well with whatever she decides to do in life,” said club director Max Miller. "She is an amazing teammate, leader and quality young lady who will be missed once she graduates our program." Paris comes from a family that bleeds blue, which explains why she committed to Kentucky more than two years ago. As she adds strength, she should be a constant in the Wildcat lineup.
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PrepVolleyball.com is proud to present its Senior Aces, the top 250 volleyball recruits in the Class of 2017. Please see our “Prologue,” published Monday, for specific information about how the list was crafted and the timing of its release.
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