Walking into practice on Wednesday, MSU volleyball head coach Cathy George was wearing an ear-to-ear smile on her face.
And with the morning George had on the first day of the NCAA early signing period, who can blame her for being so enthusiastic?
Before the clock hit 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, George officially added five players to next year’s freshman class. The recruiting class includes Chloe Reinig and Brooke Kranda Samurai 18 Open&back=Staff_Members, who are nationally ranked No. 4 and 70 among high school seniors, according to PrepVolleyball.com.
“(Reinig) can flat-out smash the ball,” George said. “She (is also) a great blocker, and from a physicality perspective, she will be able to add that right away.”
Not only do the Spartans welcome two top-100 players, but they also are bringing in a class that is a pretty big deal, literally.
The shortest player the Spartans added is 6-foot-2 middle blocker Allyssah Fitterer. The Spartans also add 6-foot-4 middle blockers Megan Tompkins and Autumn Christenson, along with 6-foot-4 Reinig and 6-foot-6 Kranda. With all that height and physicality added to the roster, the average roster height will be 6-foot-1, a 2-inch increase from this year’s average of 5-foot-11.
George also said that the boosted length is a vital step in accomplishing the program’s goals.
“When you bring in a class that has the physicality that our five do, it really sends a message and gives us the added size we need to achieve some goals we have set for this program,” George said.
Reinig was named as a 2012-13 Under Armour first-team All-American and helped Marian High School win the Class A state championship as a freshman before transferring to South Lyon High School.
Fitterer, an Ontario native, was named an all-star at the Canadian Nationals in 2010 and 2011.
Kranda, an Indiana native, was named to the 2012 all-state second team. Christenson, who missed part of her 2010 and 2011 season due to an ACL injury, is a three-time Class B all-state selection for Michigan.
Tompkins, who played on Dead Frog/Far Out Volleyball Club with Christenson, recorded 1,988 kills and 583 blocks in her career at Petoskey High School.
There is no question the incoming group will make an impact on the court, but sophomore middle blocker Jazmine White believes that they will be a great addition to the already solid team chemistry as well.
“Cathy has done a good job at recruiting girls that not only will help us physically, but will fit in with the chemistry off the court,” White said.
The existing chemistry on the team is something the Spartans pride themselves in, and junior setter Kristen Kelsay said that is one reason the five eagerly signed their paperwork to come to MSU.
“Something that draws a lot of people is that we take care of our people, and we care about each other,” Kelsay said. “It’s about volleyball, but it’s also more than that — it’s about the person you are, your academics, your family and having that family away from home.”