ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan volleyball team received five National Letters of Intent Wednesday (Nov. 14) on the first day of the early signing period (Nov. 14-21), including Sloane Donhoff (Louisville, Ky./Assumption), Courtney Fletcher (Duluth, Ga./Northview), Alex Hunt (Granger, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph), Claire McElheny (Westfield, Ind./Brebeuf Prep) and junior college transfer Juliana Paz (Porto Alegre, Brazil/Americano High School/Iowa Western CC).
All four high school prospects are among prepvolleyball.com's top 75 national recruits, with a pair of student-athletes named state player of the year and all four earning all-state honors in 2007.
"I couldn't be more excited about this group of student-athletes," said head coach Mark Rosen. "They fit our needs really well, bringing us ball control, offense, defense and a lot of experience. The common denominator with this class is that they all have a little edge to them. They are competitive and fiery and will compete hard for us. They are all used to winning."
Sloane Donhoff, a 5-9 libero/defensive specialist, was recently named Kentucky Player of the Year and is in the running for Gatorade Player of the Year. Donhoff is a two-time all-state first team selection, helping lead her team to four straight state titles, a high school national championship in 2005 and a runner-up finish in 2006. She was twice named to the state championship all-tournament team (2006, '07) and was named MVP of the 2007 tournament. Donhoff also helped Ketucky Indiana Volleyball Academy (KIVA) to four AAU Open national championships (2003, '04, '05, '07) and was named AAU All-American five times (2003-07). She was also named to the USAV Junior Olympic Open all-tournament team four times (2004-07).
"Sloane can be the consummate libero," said Rosen. "The best liberos in the country are players who have played a lot of positions. Sloane isn't just a defensive player or a great passer but a complete volleyball player. She is a well rounded athlete who can get up and bang a ball, block, serve and do it all. She's reminds me of the best liberos in the Big Ten and is also a very feisty competitor."
Courtney Fletcher, a 6-4 middle blocker, was recently named Georgia Player of the Year and is in the running for Gatorade Player of the Year. She is a three-time all-state honoree, helping lead Northview to two state championships (2005, '07) and a pair of Elite Eight finishes (2004, '06). She also holds a number of state records. Fletcher finished her career with 1,728 kills, smashing the old state record for career kills by a middle by more than 400 terminations. Her .369 career hitting percentage ranks fourth all-time in Georgia prep volleyball history, while her 223 career blocks are the most since the state converted to rally scoring in 2003. Fletcher was also a member of the USAV Junior National A2 team in 2007. Off the floor, Fletcher was named to the Principals List and Super Honor Roll all four years of high school and is a Legion of Honor, VIP Award and Silver Award in Girl Scouts recipient.
"Courtney is a player who has a lot of potential at the collegiate level," said Rosen. "She has great size and is a good athlete. She plays at a high level, but we think she can take it to even greater heights. Her work ethic is outstanding and she has the drive to work hard to be better."
Alex Hunt, a 6-0 right side, was named all-state three times in her prep career, including in 2007. Hunt helped South Bend St. Joseph reach the state semifinals in 2005. She was a member of the U.S. Youth National team in 2006, earning the best server award at the Norceca Championship. Playing for the Dunes Volleyball Club, Hunt helped lead her 16-under team to a Junior Olympic Championship (National Division) title in 2006 and her 17-under team to a Junior Olympic Championship (American Division) title in 2007. Hunt was named MVP of both tournaments.
"Alex is a pure volleyball player," said Rosen. "She can pass, play defense, serve and attack. She reminds me of some of the best all-around volleyball players we've had at Michigan. She is also very athletic, fast and has great size."
Juliana Paz, a 6-0 outside hitter finishing her sophomore season at Iowa Western Community College, is the reigning AVCA National Junior College Player of the Year, leading Iowa Western Community College to a national championship in 2006. She is a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) first team All-American, first team All-Region and NJCAA all-tournament team honoree, while earning four all-tournament team honors over the course of her freshman campaign at Iowa Western. Off the floor, Paz was a member of the NJCAA Fall National Academic Team of the Year and was an Academic All-Region honoree. Paz and the sixth-ranked Iowa Western Reivers will compete in the 2007 NJCAA Division I national championship this week in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She currently leads the nation in kills and is 20th in hitting percentage and digs.
"Juliana brings international experience and maturity to the gym," said Rosen "She has great all-around skills, can ball handle and block as well. She is a great attacker, leading the junior college leagues in kills for two years. A junior college coach once told me that when they played Juliana they could never stop her, they could only hope to contain her."
Claire McElheny, a 6-2 middle blocker, is a three-time all-county and all-state selection. McElheny won a state title with Brebeuf Prep in 2005 and advanced to the Final Four in 2007. She is a three-time prepvolleyball.com All-American and was an Indianapolis Star Super Team honoree and three-time Indianapolis Star North first teamer. McElheny was also the recipient of the Chief's Award, the highest athletic honor at Brebeuf Prep. Off the floor, McElheny was on the honor roll.
"Claire is very physical and plays big," said Rosen. "She has good speed and is really good behind the setter off one foot. She is a solid blocker who seems to be around the ball all the time."
With four Big Ten matches left in the season, Michigan travels on its final road trip to take on Purdue Friday (Nov. 16) in West Lafayette, Ind., and Indiana Saturday (Nov. 17) in Bloomington, Ind. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.
Contact: Richard Retyi (734) 763-4423