June 25, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern's recruiting class of 2014 has been recognized as one of the top 20 in the country as chosen by PrepVolleyball.com. The Wildcats, which are bringing in four freshmen this fall, have been ranked 18th overall.
According to the web site, this is the highest-rated class for NU head coach Keylor Chan since the 2010 group that was ranked No. 17. That class included two-time All-American Stephanie Holthus and redshirt senior Katie Dutchman. Individually, Taylor Tashima, ranked as the No. 11 Senior Ace by the web site, is the highest-rated recruit of the Chan's tenure.
John Tawa, an analyst for the web site, was effusive in praising Symone Abbott, Gabrielle Hazen, Katie Kniepand Tashima. "Northwestern brings in four talented athletes who will have an immediate impact within the Wildcat program," wrote Tawa.
"Tashima has trained and competed with Team USA for the past three years and is one of the most coveted setters in the class," notes Tawa. "No. 11 in the Senior Aces, the athletic lefty will be expected to compete for the starting setting position from the day she arrives on campus."
About Abbott, Tawa writes, "[She] is a physically-gifted attacker with an incredible burst to the ball. The closing step to the ball as an attacker is critical and Abbott has that ability to close better than any freshman in recent memory at Northwestern. Abbott also has an amazing arm swing that is fast, powerful and smooth.
"Hazen is a fast, mobile middle with range. Rarely do you find a middle with the length and coordination that Hazen has at the age of 18. Rounding out the class is Kniep, one of the elite liberos in the Midwest. Kniep has three years of elite club training and is following in the footsteps of some great liberos at Northwestern. She is a tremendous competitor, teammate, and talent at the libero position."
In addition to the four freshmen, the Wildcats will welcome a transfer for the 2014 campaign. Defensive specialist Candice Yager arrives in Evanston after spending her first collegiate season at North Dakota. She will have three years of eligibility at NU.
The 'Cats open the 2014 season on Friday, August 29 against Colorado at the NIU Invitational. The home portion of the schedule begins on Friday, Sept. 12 when NU hosts the Wildcat Classic at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Northwestern's five newcomers will be joined by 13 returners, including 11 letterwinners.
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