COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL: BMCC inks 7 recruits after title season

Contributed photo of Dave Baty/Blue Mountain Volleyball Blue Mountain Community College volleyball recruits Abbie Pennecard (3) and Ambrea Cuellar (2) smile during a timeout in their Class 3A Idaho state volleyball championship match last November in which Fruitland defeated Priest River. The Idaho girls are two of the seven total Timberwolves' signees for this fall.

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.

Baty’s 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.

They’ll join a group of five returners from a T-Wolves team that won its second NWAACC volleyball championship in three seasons last fall. Last year’s 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 Baty’s 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 don’t 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.

“I’m 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 we’re 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 we’re 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 we’ll run 6-2.”

Whichever setter is passing balls this fall, she’ll have plenty of hitters to chose from. Along with returning spikers like Hermiston’s Crystal Schmidt, the newest batch of T-Wolves have some heavy hands as well.

One of Pennecard’s 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 they’ve 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 school’s female powerlifting records and can “jump like crazy,” Baty said.

“There’s so much talent coming. Firepower I don’t think is going to be an issue for us,” the coach said.

Then there’s Park and Courtney Klein of Victorville Calif., whose Apple Valley High near Los Angeles makes her the second farthest removed recruit of Baty’s 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 can’t pencil her in to any one position on the court.

“She’s like an everything kid,” Baty said. “Utility with a capital U.”

And though the scholarship positions with BMCC are filled, Baty said he’s still eyeing one or two more walk-ons. The pair he’s 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 year’s 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.

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Contact AJ?Mazzolini at ajmazzolini or 541-966-0839.

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