SAN ANTONIO (July 8, 2019) - With a new coach having just arrived in San Antonio in February and having nothing in the recruiting pipeline, the Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) volleyball program faced an uphill battle in putting together its 2019 class. But with faith, togetherness and persistence, the Saints were able to gather some fantastic new additions to the volleyball family. New head coach Scott Mattera was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the recruits: "I wasn't sure what we were going to be able to do in such a late and short window of time. But I am thrilled that we were able to find and attract five young ladies who will add some much-needed depth to our program."
All five of the new additions are from San Antonio-area high schools, and all carry significant experience beyond their school teams including club ball, sand and junior college play. Mattera also highlighted the academic prowess of the class, pointing out that the average GPA of the recruits is 3.66. "One of the cornerstones of our program is academic success, and that starts in the recruiting stage. We have to get it done in the classroom first, and I think this class (along with the classroom performance of our current players) makes a strong statement about our priorities."
A big part of the recruiting success can be directed to the involvement of current Saints players. "We believe that our best recruiters are our current student-athletes. If we claim that this is a family, then everyone in the family should have a role in how we add people to it," Mattera said. Current players took advantage of opportunities to connect with potential recruits during visits and open-gym playing opportunities; their feedback was solicited in terms of fit. "We've got smart and responsible young women in our program, and I respect their judgment. When you are building a certain culture, the natural fits are pretty obvious."
The 2019 recruiting class has been participating in summer workouts and open gyms and will join the team full time when everyone moves back for preseason training camp in August. The full season schedule will be released soon, so keep checking back in at www.ollusaintsathletics.com and give the volleyball program's Facebook page a follow at www.facebook.com/OLLUvb.
Individual Recruit Profiles
Sadie Ballesteros: 5'9" middle/outside from Southwest High School in San Antonio, first team all-area (2018)
Mattera: "Sadie reached out to us, and after seeing her on video, we invited her to an open tryout. She played pretty well, but it was when she landed a 45-inch jump box stack that we took notice! She's been diligent about the weight room work and is getting accustomed to the speed of the college game in open gyms very quickly. She'll add some nice depth to any of our hitting positions."
Valarie Bolanos: 5'6" setter/defensive specialist (DS) from Churchill High School in San Antonio
Mattera: "I had a chance to see Val several times with her SA Force club team, and I liked her energy and court smarts. She brings a ton of positive energy and a pretty nasty serve. Her ability to play both setter and some DS will help us. I'm excited to see what she does here both on and off the court!"
Jurnee Dimas: 5'4" setter/DS from McCollum High School in San Antonio, second team all-area (2018)
Mattera: "Jurnee was another kid that reached out to us and was invited to come for a tryout. She immediately fit in with our team and showed some great instincts on the court and very soft hands. She's got some unique beach volleyball experience, which has helped her become a savvy indoor player."
Kalani Ketchens: 5'7' outside from Brennan High School in San Antonio by way of Lee College
Mattera: "Kalani came to us through a recommendation from a couple of our current Saints, who played with her in high school and club. I liked what I saw on video, and the fact that she had averaged over 2.5 kills per game in a strong junior college region was really attractive. Her visit confirmed that she and her family are an obvious fit for us, and we are so excited to add her experience and athleticism to our program."
Angelina Martinez: 5'4" outside/DS from Reagan High School in San Antonio, first team all-area (2016)
Mattera: "In my very first weekend in Texas I was scouting at a club tourney in Dallas, and while watching SA Force's top 18's team, I was drawn to this little undersized outside, who was competing so hard and giving much taller girls fits! When I saw that she was uncommitted, I started investigating, and the rest is history. She's played for some very good programs and that experience will serve her and us well right away."
The Saints will begin their 13th season in August. The team won the last four conference regular season championships while capturing the tournament trophy in 2015, 2016 and 2017. In 2017, the women made it past the opening round of the NAIA National Championship Tournament and finished out their season in NAIA Pool Play. Volleyball and men's soccer were the first two teams that kicked off the NAIA intercollegiate program in 2007 at OLLU. In their 12 seasons, volleyball has an overall record of 190-144 and 107-26 in the Red River Athletic Conference.
All home matches will feature live stats and live streaming for free. Links to both will be included in the schedule.