PENDLETON Blue Mountain Community College head volleyball coach Dave Baty finalized his 2013 recruiting class Wednesday when the Timberwolves seventh signed Letter of Intent arrived on campus. The final letter, inked by Jenna Park last week and mailed Friday, March 29, had much farther to go than the rest.
Park will come to Pendleton from Moanalua High School in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Batys most recent class of recruits is his farthest reaching in six years with BMCC. All seven incoming freshmen come from outside of the state of Oregon, though one arrives from just north of the Columbia River in Pasco, Wash.
Theyll join a group of five returners from a T-Wolves team that won its second NWAACC volleyball championship in three seasons last fall. Last years Blue Mountain squad finished 43-4.
Among the group of departers was sophomore setter and NWAACC Player of the Year Robyn Schirmer. The setter position drew plenty of Batys attention during the offseason.
I was fearful of the setting position last November, December knowing Robyn was all done, Baty said. How do you fill the shoes of an All-American? You dont, you dont try to do that. You simply try and find the best players out there that you can reach, grab five or six of them, show them what you have, then hope you can get the best one or two.
Baty did get two of those targets. Setters Samantha Odren of Mountain View High in Auburn, Wash., and Abbie Pennecard of Fruitland High in Fruitland, Idaho, give the Timberwolves some options at the distribution center.
Im impressed with both those young kids. ... If one of them takes control and runs it from the front row the way they can run it from the back row, then were going to give the keys to that player and let them 5-1 it, Baty said, speaking of a one-setter lineup like the team had with Schirmer. But if we look as if were more affective having two setters, each of them coming out of the back row with three hitters in the front row at all times, then well run 6-2.
Whichever setter is passing balls this fall, shell have plenty of hitters to chose from. Along with returning spikers like Hermistons Crystal Schmidt, the newest batch of T-Wolves have some heavy hands as well.
One of Pennecards teammates from Fruitland, 5-foot-10 outside hitter Ambrea Cuellar, also signed on with Blue Mountain and Baty said he expects quick chemistry between the pair after theyve already played several seasons together in high school.
Add onto that Keri Schwarz, a 5-10 outside hitter and middle blocker from Canyon Ridge High School in Twin Falls, Idaho. Schwarz holds all her schools female powerlifting records and can jump like crazy, Baty said.
Theres so much talent coming. Firepower I dont think is going to be an issue for us, the coach said.
Then theres Park and Courtney Klein of Victorville Calif., whose Apple Valley High near Los Angeles makes her the second farthest removed recruit of Batys tenure behind Park of course. Both girls lined up as outside hitters during their prep careers.
The seventh signed athlete for this year is Sierra Linke, of Pasco High School. She also has some height at 5-10, but Baty said he cant pencil her in to any one position on the court.
Shes like an everything kid, Baty said. Utility with a capital U.
And though the scholarship positions with BMCC are filled, Baty said hes still eyeing one or two more walk-ons. The pair hes looking at can contribute right away, and may have even warranted scholarships had the coaching staff found them early enough in the recruiting process.
Two of last years Timberwolves spun their season of success into further collegiate volleyball. Schirmer and outside hitter Kassi Howarth will both be playing for NAIA Eastern Oregon University this fall in La Grande on scholarships.
Contact AJ?Mazzolini at ajmazzolini or 541-966-0839.