USF volleyball coach Courtney Draper has been working on this year’s recruiting class since the day she took the job with the Bulls more than two years ago.
For the third year in a row, the USF recruiting class is ranked in the top 100 nationally by prepvolleyball.com. Eight players were recruited for this upcoming season, potentially mitigating the losses of one player’s departure after graduation and five players transferring in the offseason.
While stabilizing the depth of the team is important, Draper said one of her main goals with this recruiting class was to address the team’s need at the setter position.
“We have two setters coming in with a lot more size, Alex Mendoza and Olga Morekhodova,” Draper said. “Just adding some of that setter depth is really going to help because, as great as Natalia (Soares) has been for us, her size limits her to only playing back row.”
Despite the loss of five experienced players, Draper believes her core group of players along with two upperclassmen transfers will have enough maturity and experience to prevent the team’s performance from suffering. Draper said one of these transfers, senior Bree Scarbrough, is going to be a player the fans will love watching.
“I’d say she hits with similar velocity to Erin Fairs,” she said. “She’s got a lot ofversatility and just from spring competition, I think she’s earned the right to be in the lineup.”
Draper added length to the Bulls’ roster as six of the eight players that were brought in are at least 5-foot-10 or taller. She admitted that size was a huge factor in the recruitment, but there was much more that she was looking for in these players.
“I like for them to come from winning programs because then winning isn’t a goal, but an expectation,” Draper said. “I also like to recruit good students who represent the program well. It’s not all about how hard you’re going to hit the ball. We want to make sure they’re good people and we definitely have that in this upcoming class.”
With eight talented players joining the team this year, Draper said any position is up for grabs, except for Fairs’, the AAC Player of the Year. The main objective for the team this season is to make the NCAA Tournament and Draper said she needs her best players on the court.
The team begins workouts for the season Aug. 11. The training includes two to three sessions a day, including both practice on the court and work in the weight room. Draper said she’s going to push the team, but also make sure they keep fresh for the season.
The Bulls and their revamped roster will begin the season Aug. 29 against Purdue in Indiana.