Nov. 11, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
Rob Patrick Announces Signing Class
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A trio of talented prepsters, including the highest-ranked recruit in school history, committed to join the University of Tennessee volleyball program for the 2011 campaign on the first day of the early signing period, Lady Vol Head Coach Rob Patrick announced Thursday.
Headlining the class is Tiffany Baker, a 6-3 middle blocker/outside hitter from Carrolton, Texas, who becomes the highest ranked recruit in UT volleyball history, having been named the No. 4 prospect in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com.
Also signing a National Letter of Intent was 6-3 middle blocker Shealyn Kolosky from Wheaton, Ill., who came in at No. 83 on PrepVolleyball.com's Senior Aces list, while Nikki Brice, a 5-8 defensive specialist from Fullerton, Calif., agreed to a written offer of admission and will join the Lady Vol program in January.
"We are very excited about this signing class," Patrick said. "First of all, (assistant coach) Gregg Whitis worked extremely hard in putting this class together which really addresses our needs and provides us with depth at some important positions. All of the players are very physical and have a high volleyball IQ. They should be able to come in and immediately provide a lot of volleyball experience to our program even though they will just be first-year players."
As the fourth-ranked recruit in the country, Baker will arrive at Rocky Top as the most heralded player in UT history, surpassing current Lady Vol Leslie Cikra who was ranked No. 11 in the 2009 signing class.
For the second straight season, Baker has guided Hebron High School (40-7) to the Class 5A regional semifinals and is currently averaging 5.2 kills per set and hitting .446 for the Hawks. As a junior, she was unanimously chosen as the District 6-5A MVP after leading Hebron to a 35-10 record with 594 kills and 300 blocks.
As a member of the Dallas Premier 17-Mizuno club team, Baker finished third in the gold division and claimed all-tournament honors at the 2010 USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships in Reno, Nev. She was also tabbed to the American Volleyball Coaches Association Under Armour High School All-America Watch list and to the 2010-11 All-Texas Team by LoneStarVolleyball.com.
"Tiffany is just a tremendous athlete who will be able to help us in a lot of areas," Patrick said. "She is an elite front-row player, whether it is in the middle, at the right side or on the outside, an incredible blocker and can play all six rotations. We are very excited about getting her in the gym so we can find out where she best fits in our system. With four-year starters like Leah Hinkey and Nikki Fowler graduating this season, we need someone to come in and help us play at a high level, especially physically, and she can do that."
Set to become the second Lady Vol from Wheaton Warrenville South High School is Kolosky who will follow in the footsteps of former Tiger Annie Sadowski who played at UT from 2003-06. Ranked No. 83 on PrepVolleyball.com's Senior Aces list, she also joined Baker on the AVCA Under Armour All-America Watch List.
Named one of the top 50 players in the Chicago area by the Chicago Sun Times, Kolosky finished her senior season with totals of 375 kills, 163 blocks and 37 aces. She is also a member of the same club team that current Lady Vols Kelsey Robinson and Carly Sahagian played for, as she competes on the Sports Performance 17-Mizuno squad. This past June, she led the team to a ninth-place finish at the AAU Junior National Championships in Orlando, Fla.
"Shaelyn has played a very high level of volleyball up in Chicago," Patrick said. "She is a physical player and a 10-foot athlete who can really take up some space at the net. Not only has she played a high level of volleyball for an extended period of time in both club and high school, but she just continues to get better and hasn't even started to scratch the surface of her enormous potential. Physically, she can come in and compete at our level right away. She is a nice athlete that can do a lot of different things and should be able to create some match-up problems for our opponents in the future."
Brice will join the Tennessee program in January following a standout career at Troy High School in Fullerton, Calif. She has led the Warriors to a 79-6 record over the last three seasons, including 29-1 mark so far this year, after guiding her squad to the 2AA CIF semifinals in each of the last two campaigns and the quarterfinals in 2008. She is averaging 5.73 digs per set as a senior with a total of 447 scoops.
Listed as one of the top 250 recruits in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com, Brice was named all-league as a sophomore and both all-league and all-county as a junior. She also serves as the team captain for her club team, TCA So Cal 17-Black, which she led to a silver medal at the 2009 AAU Junior Olympics and a bronze medal in 2007.
"Nikki knows how to win and has already done a lot of it in her high school and club career," Patrick said. "We expect her to come in and compete for playing time right away even though we have quite a bit of depth at the defensive specialist position. She has a tremendous serve, is great in serve-receive and also has a very high volleyball IQ."
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6-3 - Middle Blocker/Outside Hitter
Carrolton, Texas (Hebron HS/Dallas Premier)
Tennessee Recruiting Coordinator Gregg Whitis on Baker: "Tiffany is an elite prospect and really just a complete prospect. When we first started to recruit her she was a middle blocker. Then this past year, she became a six-rotation outside hitter who can pass, dig middle-back and hit on the outside, and she was terrific at all of it. She can come in and immediately compete for time anywhere on the court, whether it is on the right side, the outside or in the middle. As a coaching staff, it is very exciting for us to have a player who is so talented and versatile."
6-3 - Middle Blocker
Wheaton, Ill. (Wheaton Warrenville South HS/Sports Performance)
Tennessee Recruiting Coordinator Gregg Whitis on Kolosky: "We started recruiting Shealyn as a sophomore. She has always had good size and a great volleyball frame and when she came to our camp she really stood out because of how physical she was. We think she has the ability to attack both in front of and behind the setter, which is a big part of our offense, and we expect her to play at a very high level as she continues to gain experience on the court."
5-8 - Defensive Specialist
Fullerton, Calif. (Troy HS/TCA So Cal)
Tennessee Recruiting Coordinator Gregg Whitis on Brice: "Nikki is a complete libero prospect who has also played a lot of high-level volleyball for a really good club team. First and foremost though, she is a great passer. When she came to our camp she competed really well, and we expect her to come in and immediately fight for a starting spot and provide depth."