BILLINGS – Head coach Casey Williams announced Monday the addition of five players who have signed with the MSUB volleyball program for the 2017 season.
Williams has added five freshmen recruits for the next season from five different states, signing athletes from North Dakota, Washington, Texas, Arizona and California.
Bismarck, North Dakota
Century High School
5-foot-7 Setter/Defensive Specialist
The first recruit for MSUB is a setter from Bismarck, N.D. Kylee Clarke entered her fourth season with the Century High School Patriots having already accumulated 1,000 career assists. Century High School earned back-to-back state championship titles in 2015 and 2016 in the Western Dakota Association Class-A. The Patriots finished with a 41-2 overall record. In the title game against Bismarck High, Clarke earned a double-double of 21 assists and 12 digs.
Coach Williams on Clarke: “Kylee comes from a very successful high school program. She is a very smart player and knows the game of volleyball very well. We are excited about the amount of leadership and experience that she is bringing to the MSUB volleyball program.”
Clarke on choosing MSUB: “I chose MSUB because it was a good fit for me both athletically and academically. Education is a priority for me, and I had heard good things about the school. I also love that I will continue my volleyball career there and have the opportunity to travel, stay active, and remain competitive. I loved the campus and the city of Billings, and I just had a good feeling about it.”
Capital High School
6-foot-1 Outside/Right Hitter
Hali Ehresmann is joining MSUB from Capital High School in Olympia, Wash. The multi-position player was a member of the CHS team that finished with a 40-16 overall record under head coach Katie Turcotte.
Her senior season, Ehresmann amassed 218 kills on a .361 attack percentage, with 85 total blocks. She had a single-game high of 11 total blocks. Her best match last season, Ehresmann posted 16 kills on a .609 attack percentage.
Ehresmann earned first team all-league honors her junior and senior season and second team all-league accolades as a sophomore. She was named a first team all-state tournament selection. Ehresmann was selected the team’s Most Valuable Player her junior and senior seasons and served as the team captain her final year.
Coach Williams on Ehresmann: “We are very excited that Hali has decided to join the MSUB volleyball roster. She has a powerful arm swing and knows when to use her shots. She will contribute a lot in the 2017 season as a utility hitter.”
Ehresmann on choosing MSUB: “On my visit I really connected with coach Casey and coach Carly, and I have always loved the idea of living in Montana and taking advantage of all the outdoor beauty there. I also loved the competition in the GNAC, and the idea of growing with the team.”
Dumas High School
5-foot-2 Defensive Specialist/Libero
Izela Alvarez is a two-sport student-athlete for Dumas High School in Dumas, Texas. Alvarez was a guard on the girl’s basketball team and a four-year member of the volleyball squad as a defensive specialist and libero.
Alvarez was the 2014 and 2015 District Defensive Player of the Year. She was named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association all-state team in 2015. She was a Texas Sports Writers Association all-state pick for 2015 and was named to the Amarillo Globe News Super Team.
Her freshman season, Alvarez served 13 consecutive points to clinch a play-off spot for the Demonettes, on her way to being named the TGCA All State/Defensive Player of the Year.
Coach Williams on Alvarez: “Izela is a one-of-a-kind defender. She comes from a strong high school program in Texas and is one of the scrappiest players that I have seen in a while. I have watched Izela play for the past couple of years and she continues to improve her skillset. She is a go-getter and will help us next year on defense.”
Alvarez on choosing MSUB: “I chose MSUB because it’s an opportunity I can’t pass-up. Everything I’ve heard about the college and city has been positive. My heart is pulling me toward Montana and I can’t wait to experience new things!”
Horizon Honors High School
5-foot-10 Setter/Right Side
Alexa Smythe is a setter and opposite side hitter from Phoenix, Ariz. A four-year letter winner at Horizon Honors, Smythe led the Eagles to the 2016 AIA state championship title.
She earned all-state honorable mention accolades in 2014 and 2015, was an all-selection second team in 2015, and was an all-section and regional first team honoree in 2014 and 2016.
Smythe is the all-time record-holder in kills for Horizon Honors, amassing 852 during her prep career. She was also just one short of triple-digits in assists with 999. Smythe was the team captain all four years for the Eagles. She was selected the 2015 team’s Most Valuable Player.
Coach Williams on Smythe: “Alexa has very pretty hands and contact. She has the versatility to set and swing. Alexa is a very consistent player who has a passion for volleyball.”
Smythe on choosing MSUB: “I chose MSUB because I loved how determined and committed the coaches are in building a competitive volleyball program in one of the toughest conferences in Division II. I also really loved the school and the city of Billings. I am looking forward to experiencing four seasons and the change from Phoenix.”
Folsom High School
6-foot-1 Middle Blocker/Right Side
Kristen Whitney is a two-sport student-athlete in volleyball and basketball from Folsom High School in Folsom, Calif. Whitney is an opposite side hitter and middle blocker. She is a four-year letter winner for the Bulldogs in volleyball under head coach Michella Harvey.
Whitney was named the 2013 Rookie of the Year and was the team captain last year for the squad. At Folsom High School, Whitney is the all-time record-holder in sets played, serving percentage and is second in digs. She ranks in the top-3 in all statistical categories.
Coach Williams on Whitney: “We are very excited about Kristen joining us. She will compete for playing time in the middle and right side. I know she will be helpful to the program next fall.”
Whitney on choosing MSUB: “After my official visit at Montana State University Billings, I realized that this setting was a great opportunity for me to play volleyball at the collegiate level. MSUB is the best fit for me because I liked how the coaches were big on team chemistry and I connected with the team quickly. I also enjoyed the small-school environment. Being from California, I am excited for this new adventure.”
MSU Billings recently wrapped-up its 2016 schedule, playing its last three matches in Oregon, Washington, and Canada. This season was the inaugural year under Coach Williams. The Yellowjacket volleyball program finished with a 7-23 overall record and were 5-15 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.