UK Volleyball Welcomes Five Newcomers
March 3, 2000
LEXINGTON, Ky. - University of Kentucky volleyball coach Jona Braden has announced the signing of four student-athletes to national letters of intent while a fifth has been admitted and will walk-on as the Wildcats have completed their 2000 recruiting class.
The 2000 class consists of middle blocker Sissy Canfield (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs), middle blocker Julie Davis (Allentown, Pa./Allen), outside hitter Brooke Dodson (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles), and setter Kristi Kelley (Corona, Calif./Corona). Candace Cogan (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) will be walking on for the Cats in the fall.
"The members of this group have the common thread of a personal commitment to excellence," Braden said. "They all have a tremendous drive for success, not just for themselves but for the entire team."
A highly motivated competitor, Sissy Canfield comes to Kentucky after a decorated career for Blue Springs High School in Missouri. A member of the All-District tournament team the last three years, Canfield broke through in her senior season with a 49 percent hitting percentage and 3.0 blocks per game average. As a senior she was named to the Missouri 4A All-State team and first-team Kansas City All-Big 8 Conference. She was recognized by the Blue Springs and Independence Examiner as the K.C.-Area Player of the Year and selected to the Greater K.C.-Area Coaches Association All-Star team.
"Sissy has real solid skills and a strong blocking foundation. She brings a workhorse mentality and work ethic to our middle blocker position. Her drive to excel is infectious and she will raise our competitive expectations. Her blocking and execution will make her a physical force at the net."
Candace Cogan brings championship experience and solid defensive and ball control skills to the UK lineup. While playing for Assumption High School, Cogan had the distinction of being a member of the Kentucky state volleyball champions all four years of her high school career. A 1999 second team All-State selection, Cogan was selected as Assumption's top all-around player this past season.
"I feel privileged to have a player of Candace's caliber decide to join the program, not only for her athletic ability, but for her natural leadership skills. Having played for Assumption, the top team in the country last year, she is a real competitor who knows what it takes to be a winner. She will bring us solid back row experience and give us more options to play different types of lineups."
Julie Davis will add even more strength to the UK blocking game, as she possesses a strong desire to learn and grow. The Most Valuable Player of the East Penn League her senior year, Davis led her team in blocking with 134 total blocks to go with 169 kills and a 46-percent hitting percentage. Davis was also selected to first-team All-District and second-team All-State.
"Julie has exhibited great leadership throughout her career. She has outstanding communication skills and has taken the role to keep everyone moving forward. Her fearless mindset as a middle blocker and her athleticism will allow her to use her capabilities to the fullest."
A 1999 first team All-State selection in Illinois her senior year, Brooke Dodson brings a wealth of success at the high school and club levels to Kentucky. A consensus Chicagoland All-Area selection in '98 and '99, Dodson is an explosive hitter who plays much taller than her 5-foot-9 frame would suggest. Her great leaping ability will allow her to play high above the net with the giants of the SEC.
"Brooke is physically, mentally and emotionally strong, but it is her physical explosiveness that makes her special," Braden says. "She is constantly challenging her opponents to raise their level of play and brings a never-give-up attitude to our team."
The Cats will be getting another top-flight athlete in Kristi Kelley, who paced her Corona High School team to a Mountain View League Championship in 1999 as the team's leading passer, blocker and hitter. The 6-0 setter was a middle blocker as a freshman in high school before moving to her current position where she was selected All-League her final three years. Kelley was selected as Corona's MVP this past season and her intense competitive drive earned her the Gatorade Will-to-Win Award.
"Kristi has a high ceiling for growth and brings another dimension to our setting," says Braden. "She split time in her career between setter and outside hitter so she will give us an entirely different perspective for the setter position. Her natural good delivery of the ball, and her steadiness and focus, make everyone around her better. She has the necessary ability to remain calm and stay in-tune to the game in pressure situations."
Braden is as impressed with each signee's ability to communicate and demonstrate leadership qualities as she is with their more technical volleyball tools. All five are exemplary student-athletes and are expected to fit in well with UK's nine returning letterwinners.
"All five of these players fit in well with the direction of our program and will be welcome additions to our current group of players," Braden said. "The success we experienced this past season was an example of individuals taking ownership of what they needed to do in order to keep climbing to a higher level of performance. The Class of 2000 will only enhance our ability to continue on the journey of excellence."