Quartet to Join Rocket Program for 2014 Campaign
TOLEDO, OH — Head Coach Greg Smith announced today that 5-7 freshman L/DS Lauren Bakaitis (Avon Lake, OH), 5-8 freshman S/DS Brianna Foster (Grafton, OH), 5-10 junior S/DS Maddie Strall (Toledo, OH) and 6-1 redshirt freshman MB Rachel Vidourek (Oxford, OH) will be joining the Toledo volleyball program starting in the 2014 campaign. The quartet joins the freshman trio of OH Annie Beasley (Indianapolis, IN), MB Kelli Mattson (Murrieta, CA) and OH Saige Thomas (Corpus Christi, TX), who each signed a national letter of intent last fall.
“We feel very fortunate to be adding four quality individuals in Lauren, Brianna, Maddie and Rachel to our program,” Smith said. “They are going to fit extremely well with the chemistry and togetherness we’ve established. When you combine these four additions to our three signees from last fall, we’re going to have a talented roster that will be the deepest we’ve had. As a result of our increased depth, competition for playing time next year will be intense and result in a high level of play during our practices.”
Bakaitis averaged 4.9 digs and 2.1 kills per set along with a .336 attack percentage as an outside hitter for Avon Lake High School last fall. She helped the Shoregals to two Southwestern Conference championships and the 2011 Division I Grafton District title.
“Lauren played outside hitter in high school and as a libero/defensive specialist at the club level,” Smith said. “She’s a natural athlete who moves and reads well defensively and is very competitive. She’s going to be really fun to coach and has the potential to develop into a very good libero.”
Foster averaged 5.0 assists, 2.0 digs, 1.7 kills and 1.4 service aces per set as a senior and was recognized as the National Association of Christian Athletes’ Most Valuable Setter and as an All-American in 2012. She was also named to the NACA All-Tournament Team and earned recognition for her sportsmanship as a junior.
“Brianna is a hard worker who’s going to be a great addition to our program,” Smith said. “She has some setting experience and is a strong defensive player as well, and that will give her a chance to contribute in different areas.”
Strall is transferring to Toledo following two years at NCAA Division II member Wheeling (WV) Jesuit, where she was an honorable-mention All-Mountain East Conference selection last year after averaging 1.83 digs and 2.24 assists per set. She helped the Cardinals to a 38-6 overall record (16-0 MEC) and a trip to the national semifinals. A 2012 St. Ursula Academy graduate, Strall earned second-team all-state honors as a senior and helped the Arrows win the Division I state title as a junior and finish as runner-up as a senior.
“Maddie is a very competitive athlete who’s a gym rat,” Smith said. “She had a great high school career as both a volleyball and basketball player, and we’re thrilled to have her join our program. Maddie can provide us depth at the setter position and also contribute for us in the back row defensively.”
Vidourek sat out as a redshirt last season for a Marquette squad which posted a 26-6 overall record (15-1 Big East) and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Vidourek led Talawanda High School (Oxford, OH) to a 21-2 overall mark and a third straight Southwest Ohio Conference title as a senior in 2012. Vidouek racked up 346 kills (5.67 kills per set) as a senior and a .620 ATK% (346-33-561) to earn her conference’s Athlete of the Year award.
“Rachel provides us with another option in the middle but can also play the right side if needed,” Smith said. “She’s a very good athlete who is quick, strong and understands collegiate training after playing at a high level with an NCAA Tournament team.”
Toledo will open its 2014 campaign at West Virginia’s Mountaineer Invitational on Friday-Saturday, August 29-30. The tournament field will also include 2013 NCAA Tournament participants Brigham Young and IUPUI as well as the host Mountaineers.