Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly and his staff have depth of talent for 2011.
May 25, 2011
West Linn, Oregon - Illinois continues to garner top-10 recruiting classes. The Class of 2011, however, is the highest rated in the program history. The four-person class is ranked No. 3 nationally by prepvolleyball.com, coming on the heels of the seventh-rated class in 2010. The members of the Class of 2007, who just completed their Illinois careers, were the sixth-best in the nation.
Illinois is ranked behind only Texas and four-time defending national champion Penn State. The Illini went 1-1 against both teams a year ago. Rounding out the top 10 are Washington, UCLA, California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pepperdine and USC. The Big Ten has six total teams in the top 30 - Illinois (3), Wisconsin (7), Nebraska (13), Purdue (14), Ohio State (24) and Minnesota (30) with Northwestern also knocking on the door. Illinois opens the season at BYU, who checks in at No. 27.
Illinois has four players all ranked among the top 53 in the country led by 6-6 middle blocker/right side hitter Liz McMachon (Liberty Township, Ohio/Lakota West), Illinois' top-rated individual recruit at no. 3. Joining McMahon in the class are 6-2 outside hitter Jocelynn Birks (Willow Springs, Ill./Lyons Township H.S.), ranked 26th, 6-1 outside hitter Morganne Criswell (Decatur, Ill./Lutheran School Association), listed No. 33, and 6-0 right side hitter Ali Stark (Mount Vernon, Iowa/Mount Vernon H.S.), ranked No. 53.
"The 2011 (Illinois) recruiting class may end up being the best class out of the recent string of strong classes the Illini have put together over the last few years," prepvolleyball.com says.
The Illini will have 11 players on the fall roster who were top 60 products in their respective classes. The freshman class joins middle blocker Anna Dorn (6), outside hitter Colleen Ward (7), outside hitter Michelle Bartsch (16), outside hitter Jazmine Orozco (33), outside hitter Jessica Jendryk (45), middle blocker Erin Johnson (57) and libero Jennifer Bonilla (60) in that category.
Bartsch, Bonilla and Ward are in Dallas this week to train with the USA Volleyball A2 program. The trio is among the 36 who will also compete at the USA Volleyball Open National Championships, which begin this weekend. Bonilla also was recently named to the United States Junior National Team for the second straight year. That 12-player team will represent the U.S. at the FIVB Women's Junior World Championships (U-20) July 20-31 in Peru. McMahon was selected as an alternate on that team.