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Cougar Volleyball Inks Five

University of Sioux Falls
University of Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (November 14, 2013) – University of Sioux Falls head volleyball coach Joel McCartney today has announced the signing of five players that will address needs in all areas of the court beginning in the 2014 season. The group includes a pair of outside hitters, two setters and a defensive specialist.

"We're excited to announce the addition of these five student-athletes to our program," McCartney said. "Each one brings a high level of volleyball experience to the team as well as great personal character. They will fit in well with our volleyball family here at the University of Sioux Falls." 

Kayla Crane hails from Maple Grove (Minn.), where she was a three-year starter as both a setter and right side hitter for the Crimson. Crane was a three-time floor-captain and three-time Northwest Suburban All-Conference awardee. Crane broke the school’s set assist record twice and as a senior led the Crimson in kills, assists and aces. 

Crane plays club volleyball for the Northern Lights, who took third place at the 2013 AAU Super Regional 17’s and were runners-up at the 2013 Club National Junior Classic. 

Janelle Lam is a two-year starting libero/defensive for Apple Valley High School (Minn.). A three-year letter winner, Lam served as team captain this season and was named the Defensive Player of the Year. Lam also plays AAU club ball with the Northern Lights.  

Named a team captain since she was 13, Haley McCurley is an outside hitter from Larkspur, Colo. McCurley has been a four-year starter for Douglas County (three) and Lewis Palmer High School and was twice nominated as an all-academic selection. McCurley is currently hitting .338 for a Lewis Palmer squad that is the first seed in the 2013 Colorado 4A state championship. She plays club volleyball with the Colorado Juniors. 

A two-time all state selection, Marissa Kay O’Grady was a four-year starting outside hitter, two-time team captain and three-time All-Eastern Midlands honoree for coach Mallory Lawrence at Blair High School (Neb.).  O’Grady has twice been named the Bears’ Most Valuable Player and also received an All-EMC academic nod. She is a six-year veteran of the Nebraska Elite, a club squad that took ninth at the 2011 nationals and racked up three top-five tournament finishes in 2012. 

Allison Pickhardt hails from Randolph, Wisc., where she was a four-year starter for coach Gary Paul and the Randolph Rockets. The setter/middle blocker was named the 2013 Trailways Conference Player of the Year and received an invitation to the Tri-State All Star Game. Pickhardt received three all-conference nods, including two first-team selections and was additionally named the Rockets’ MVP as both a junior and senior. She holds school records for career kills (1,036), single-season kills (359), career blocks (194) and is second in career aces (208). Pickhardt is also a four-year letter winner and three-year starter for the Randolph women’s basketball team.  As a member of the Wisconsin Select Volleyball Club, Pickhardt brings elite level training with her to Sioux Falls. 

“With the graduation of our starting setter (Alexa Reed) and libero (Andrea Odbert) we have assessed the very specific needs of our program and recruited athletes who will be able to compete for those two vacant roles and more,” McCartney added. 

“In an attempt to continue growing within our nationally competitive Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, we have found five athletes with great talent and desire to compete at this level.  Adding these five freshmen, to an already very talented core of returning athletes, is going to help us achieve greater rewards in the not-too-distant future.  I am very excited about the collective talent we have in these individuals, but even more excited about the character and academic strength each one brings to our program and university.”

Courtesy:  University of Sioux Falls