HARRISONBURG, Va., Dec. 16, 2011 – James Madison head volleyball coach Lauren Steinbrecher announced the signing of two student-athletes to national letters of intent to join the Dukes program for the 2012-13 academic year.
The two newly-signed players include outside hitters Meghan Niski (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) and MacKenzie Kleespies (Lincoln University, Pa./Avon Grove).
“I am excited to welcome the 2012 recruiting class to our volleyball family here at JMU,” Steinbrecher said. “I have no doubt this class will help us continue to reach and surpass our goals as a program. Each of the girls bring a little something different, but they both have high-level volleyball IQs, ball control, and an excellent competitive mentality. Mackenzie and Meghan have both been recognized at a national level for their efforts on the court and I look forward to watching them flourish throughout their careers here as a Duke.”
Niski comes to JMU from St. Charles East High School in St. Charles, Ill. She was recently named an AVCA/Under Armour All-America Honorable Mention and the Player of the Year by the Illinois State Scholar and the Kane County Chronicle. She is a four-time Upstate Eight All-Conference selection, including unanimous selections twice, as well as a Chicago Tribune All-State selection. As a senior she finished the season with 418 kills, 207 digs, 48 blocks and 29 aces while leading St. Charles East to a third-place finish in the Illinois State 4A Playoffs.
Academically, Niski is a member of the National Honors Society, a four-time Upstate Eight Academic All-Conference selection and a recipient of the Human Relations Award.
“I have really enjoyed getting to know Meghan and her family throughout the recruiting process,” Steinbrecher said. “She will make an immediate impact in several facet of our program. Meg brings a great work ethic, exceptional leadership skills and the ability to do everything on the court at a high level. She has a huge passion for the game and I have no doubt that Meg will be a fun player to watch and coach.”
Kleespies signs out of Avon Grove High School in Lincoln University, Pa. She was named an AAU All-American at the AAU National Tournament while also garnering All-Tournament honors at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Tournament. As a senior at Avon Grove, she was named Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association AAA All-State four times. She is also a four-time All-Ches-Mont League First Team honoree.
“Mackenzie has had a phenomenal volleyball career to date,” Steinbrecher said. “She was a highly recruited at the national level for her ability to pass, play defense and control the ball. She brings an intense desire to succeed and be the best that I have not seen matched by most players her age. Mac has won at every level she has played and I am excited to see her continue that success at JMU.”
The 2011 JMU volleyball team finished the season 20-11 overall to record back-to-back 20-plus win seasons for the first time since 1999 and 2000. The Dukes return five starters and their libero from a team that reached the CAA semifinal game for the second consecutive year.
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