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Corbelli Announces Additions to Texas A&M Volleyball Roster

June 20, 2014
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M volleyball head coach Laurie Corbelli has announced several additions to the Aggies’ 2014 squad.

Recent additions include four freshmen: 5-11 outside hitters Kiara McGee (San Antonio/Taft H.S.) and Olivia Thorpe (Austin/Lake Travis H.S.), 5-4 libero Amy Nettles from San Antonio/Churchill H.S. and 6-0 middle blocker Uche “Debby” Ukadike, from Mesquite/West Mesquite H.S. They join high school All-Americans Stephanie Aiple, a 6-1 setter from Round Rock High School who enrolled at Texas A&M in January, and 6-1 opposite hitter Ashlie Reasor (San Antonio/Reagan), who both signed to play for the Aggies during the November signing period. The freshman group was recently ranked as the 17th best recruiting class in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com.

“This is a super physical group that is very, very talented athletically,” said Corbelli, who is entering her 22nd season at the helm of the Aggies. “It is a nice compliment that we have a Top 20 class, but with all the recruits that are coming to Texas A&M and with two of them being high school All-Americans, I believe the level of talent we have coming in is definitely Top 20 if not Top 10. It is up to us to show that we are highly talented and that we are using that talent to its maximum ability and getting positive results.”

Another newcomer in the fall will be Sydney Wilhelm (Bastrop, Texas/Bastrop H.S.). Formerly a member of the Texas A&M volleyball club team, the 5-11 outside hitter will join returning defensive specialist Hannah Hood as the only two seniors on the squad.

“Wilhelm is an outside hitter, and it will be fantastic to see her compete in that position every day,” Corbelli said. “As an older player, we also will be utilizing her experience as a strong defensive player.”

In addition to the seven newcomers, Corbelli will welcome 10 returning letterwinners, including four starters – 6-2 middle blockers Shelby Sullivan and Jazzmin Babers and outside hitters Angela Lowak and Emily Hardesty -- from last year’s team that went 19-12 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. She will be counting on all returners and newcomers to help fill the void of last year’s departing senior class, including four-year starting setter and All-American honorable mention Allie Sawatzky, as well as the solid and experienced back row corps of Mariah Agre, Kelsey Kinley and Heather Reynolds.

“Those seniors brought a great level of experience from our serve receive to our defense as well as the leadership,” Corbelli said about last year’s senior back row contingent. “That’s a huge loss, but we worked hard on our back row defense and ball control all spring. Plus Nettles has been playing a long time for one of the top clubs in the state and is a really strong and experienced back row player.”

Corbelli also looks forward to seeing the growth and added depth at the previously thin outside hitter position.

“We have very talented outsides, but sometimes in the past we were thin in numbers so the competition every day in the gym was sometimes limited,” she said. “That is where so many of them get better, by competing against each other very day, so we really like the fact that we have six that will be competing on the outside. That is going to raise the level of all of their games.

“We will still be young in experience at the outside position, but there will be a lot of healthy competition. It will bring a sense of urgency for each one to carry over the training to the matches. They are all very athletic, and they have really great verticals that will help them play really high above the net. I expect the returners are going to be great leaders and great examples, and the competition will be fun to watch as they all help each other grow all aspects of their game.”

The 17-member team begins preseason practice on August 9 and opens its 2014 regular season August 29.

“It is so exciting to look at the roster, seeing all the names and knowing their abilities and also knowing that I will be coaching them when they get to the gym in August,” Corbelli said. “I haven’t been this excited to start a season in a while. I anticipate really great things with this group. It will be fun watching it all come together. That is what we coaches crave, having a lot of talent and figuring out how to put it all together in order to maximize it all.

“There is so much talent that both the coaching staff and the players have to be really prepared and do a great job. It is going to be a lot of fun. There are not a lot of givens yet. Most everyone is going to be in the gym earning their spot, but everybody has so much to offer and I’m really thrilled and excited.”

2014 Texas A&M Volleyball newcomers:
Stephanie Aiple, 6-1, Fr., Setter, Round Rock, Texas (Round Rock)
Kiara McGee, 5-11, Fr., Outside Hitter, San Antonio, Texas (Taft)
Amy Nettles, 5-4, Fr., Libero, San Antonio, Texas (Churchill)
Ashlie Reasor, 6-1, Fr., Opposite, San Antonio, Texas (Reagan)
Olivia Thorpe, 5-11, Fr., Outside Hitter, Austin, Texas (Lake Travis)
Debby Ukadike, 6-0, Fr., Middle Blocker, Mesquite, Texas (West Mesquite)
Sydney Wilhelm, 5-9, Sr., Outside Hitter, Bastrop, Texas (Bastrop)

The complete 2014 Texas A&M volleyball roster is available here.

Newcomer Notables:

Stephanie Aiple (pronounced I-plee)

  • Enrolled at Texas A&M in January and participated in spring drills
  • 2013 AVCA/Under Armour First-Team All-American
  • 2013 PrepVolleyball.com High School All-American
  • 2013 Volleyball Magazine All-American honorable mention
  • No. 30 in PrepVolleyball’s Senior Aces
  • LoneStarVolleyball.com’s 2013 Outstanding Setter
  • Volleyball Magazine Fab 50
  • 2012 Member of USA Youth National Team, gold medalist at NORCECA
  • 2013 UIL District 16-5A MVP
  • 2013 TGCA All-State volleyball first team
  • 2013 TSWA Class 5A All-State honorable mention

Kiara McGee

  • 2013 USA Volleyball Girl’s Junior National Championship, 17 American Gold Division All-Tournament Team
  • Four-year letter winner and two-year captain at Taft High School
  • Led Raiders to the District 27-5A championship in 2012 and 2013
  • 2013 27-5A All-District first team (unanimous)
  • Selected to play in 2014 TGCA All-Star match
  • 2013 Academic All-District second team
  • 2012 all-district first team
  • 2011 all-district second team

Amy Nettles

  • 2013 PrepVolleyball.com First-Team Defensive Dandy
  • 2013 PrepVolleyball.com High School All-American Special Mention
  • 2013 TGCA All-State
  • First-Team All-Area
  • 2013 & 2012 San Antonio Express-News All-Area Super Team
  • 2013 High School State runner-up
  • 2013 TGCA All-State Academic team
  • Selected to play in 2014 TGCA All-Star match
  • 2013 All-District 26-5A first team
  • As a junior: TGCA All-State, All-Area Super Team, District 26-5A All-District First Team, unanimous

Ashlie Reasor

  • 2013 MVP of AVCA/Under Armour All-America match
  • 2013 AVCA/Under Armour First-Team All-American
  • 2013 USA Today/American Family Insurance All-USA second-team
  • 2013 Volleyball Magazine All-American second team
  • 2013-14 TGCA 4A-5A Volleyball Athlete of the Year
  • 2013 Volleyball Magazine Fab 50
  • 2013 TGCA Class 5A All-State first team
  • 2013 TSWC 5A All-State second team
  • 2013 All-District 26-5A first team
  • 2013 San Antonio Express-News All-Area co-Player of the Year

Olivia Thorpe

  • 2013 All-State Academic team
  • 2013 District 15-5A honorable mention

Debby Ukadike (pronounced ooh-ka-dee-kay)

  • 2013 All-District 10-4A second team
  • Three-year starter at West Mesquite High School

Sydney Wilhelm

  • 2009 All-Bastrop County Player of the Year

Visit AggieAthletics.com for more information on Texas A&M volleyball. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M volleyball team on Facebook and on Twitter by following @AggieVolleyball. 

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