Nov. 15, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. - UC Davis women's volleyball inked three prospective student-athletes to National Letters of Intent on the first day of the 2012 fall signing period, head coach Jamie Holmes announced on Wednesday. Alphabetically, the prospects are Erika Conners of San Diego, Calif., Aima Eichie of Castle Rock, Colo., and Kendall Walbrecht of La Cañada, Calif.
All three are seniors at their respective high schools and are expected to enroll at UC Davis in the fall quarter of 2013.
Conners, a 5-foot-10 setter from Francis Parker School, earned second-team All-San Diego Section and first-team All-Coastal League honors as a sophomore, earning rare a team MVP award for such a young player. She has followed that with All-CIF-SDS distinction in 2011, averaging 11.9 assists per set while boosting the team to the state quarterfinals. During her prep career, Conners has garnered four all-tournament nods plus various Athlete of the Week and Athlete of the Month awards from AVCA/MaxPreps and the San Diego Union-Tribune.
This season, she has led the Lancers to a 31-2 and a berth in the section tournament. On the club scene, Conners played four years for Epic VBC before returning to Coast VBC last summer, helping the latter to a fifth-place finish in the National division at the Junior Olympics. Individually, she was named to the all-tournament team at the 2012 USAV 17-1 national championship.
"Erika is the quarterback of the 2013 recruiting class," said Holmes. "She is a competitive and edgy game-changer with good ball control and a high volleyball IQ. She comes to UC Davis with a high level of high school and club experience. Erika possesses such a confident and creative approach, so I'm excited to add an athlete with so much winning under her belt."
Eichie becomes the first out-of-state signee during Holmes' tenure as head coach, and will be the first non-Californian to play volleyball at UC Davis since 2006. The 6-1 middle blocker from Rock Canyon High School finishes up her second season on the varsity squad, having captured All-Continental League honorable mention as a junior in 2011. This season, she has hit 160 kills for a .233 average while leading the Jaguars with 83 total blocks (1.1 per set). Eichie is also accomplished academically, making her school honor roll every year and ranking 16th of a class of 399 with a 4.14 GPA. She has played two years of club ball for Colorado Volleyball Association in Englewood, competing for former UC Davis assistant coach Darren Buckner and Darren's sister Michelle.
"Aima is a high-flying, extremely athletic middle who has a 10-3 jump reach without having lifted a weight in her life," Holmes said. "She possesses explosive body movements and jumping abilities. Couple that with great training and levels of competition from this upcoming club season, and Aima will immediately bring to our program an effective slide approach and attack that we have been looking for."
Walbrecht, an outside hitter from La Cañada High School, will become the third alumna of the San Gabriel Elite VBC on next year's squad, joining current sophomores Valerie Brain and Mary Schroeder. She also owns the distinction of being the highest-ranked recruit in school history, according to PrepVolleyball - Walbrecht checked in at No. 53 on that publication's Senior Aces list.
On the varsity scene, Walbrecht has led the Spartans to four straight undefeated seasons in the Rio Hondo League and four Southern Section playoff berths. She earned first-team All-RHL awards as a sophomore and junior, posting kills totals of 330 and 365 in those two seasons, respectively. This season, Walbrecht ranks second on her team with 314 kills and has hit at a .260 clip in 73 sets to earn RHL Co-MVP honors. In club ball, she plays for SG Elite's 18 Roshambo squad, having competed at the USA Junior Nationals for three straight seasons.
"As the highest-profile prep athlete in UC Davis volleyball history, Kendall is a 6-3, six-rotation outside hitter with a 10-plus jump reach," Holmes said. "She has a tremendous `ceiling' in this sport. As one of the most natural blockers in this recruiting class, Kendall plays the game high above the net and thus possesses extremely strong attack angles. We project her to be a high impact player, and we're eager to get her in our gym."
UC Davis holds a 15-13 overall record and a fourth-place 9-6 ledger in the Big West Conference with just three matches remaining. The Aggies host Cal State Northridge on Friday then No. 7 Hawai'i on Saturday for their final 2012 homestand.