PASADENA, Calif (July 14, 2016) – The Caltech volleyball team welcomes six newcomers to Pasadena this fall heading into the 2016 season.
The class consists of:
Julia Fay (Oakland, Calif./College Preparatory School)
Mei-Ling Laures (Chicago, Ill./British School of Chicago)
Lauren Li (Bellaire, Texas/Bellaire Senior)
Helena Shield (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island)
Ellie Walker (Minneapolis, Minn./Blake School)
Alexa Lauinger (Ortonville, Mich/Brandon)
"I am very excited about this recruiting class and the corner that we have turned as a program," Head Coach Tom Gardner said. "This group will change the face and culture of Caltech Volleyball as we make strides toward becoming a very good team. These new players fill the void left by five graduating players and bring new energy that will be contagious."
Oakland, Calif. / College Preparatory School
5-9, Middle Blocker
"Julia is an aggressive middle blocker who will solidify our front row defense," Gardner said. "She is a nice addition, especially with the graduation of one of our starting middle blockers."
Chicago, Ill. / British School of Chicago
5-3, Setter/Defensive Specialist
A four-year member of the Science Olympiad Club and medalist in both Regional Competitions, Laures also finished second in the State ICTM Contest. The National Honors Society member attended the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Institute and was a Programmer at the National High School Game Academy as well as the Publicity Secretary for Model UN and the Caucus Leader at the National Young Leaders Conference.
Bellaire, Texas / Bellaire Senior H.S.
5-9, Outside Hitter
An All-District First Team selection, Li has helped her teams to become Bi-District and Area Champions in addition to fourth- and fifth-place finishes in various national club tournaments. She has interned at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she worked in the Genetics Department and performed PCR's to genotype mice, and was a camp counselor at the Bellaire Nature Discovery Center, where she worked with students in the Environmental Sciences. Li is a member of the National Honor Society and French National Honor Society.
"Lauren is a strong attacking outside hitter who will really help fill the void of two graduating outsides," Gardner said. "I expect her to be a huge part of our offense in the years to come."
Mercer Island, Wash. / Mercer Island H.S.
5-9, Outside Hitter/Middle Blocker
Shield has competed in several Math competitions and qualified for AIME while being a member of her school's Women in STEM, Science and STEM clubs and President of the Math club. She volunteers in a hospital and a nursing home in the Seattle area as well as tutors underprivileged children in the area.
"Helena is a versatile front row player who can help us in the middle or on the outside," Gardner said. "She underwent ACL surgery and will contribute on the court beginning in the 2017 season, but will be an important addition as a teammate immediately."
Minneapolis, Minn. / Blake School
5-9, Setter/Opposite Hitter
Walker has competed in the Science Olympiad and been a designer and social media coordinator on the Robotics Team for three years. She won the Best Team Award at the NASA Advanced Space Camp for building the best heat shield at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Ellie is an athletic setter who gives us a great front row setting or attacking option," Gardner said. "Her size in that position is something that we have been lacking in years past and will be a tremendous addition to our offense."
Ortonville, Mich. / Brandon H.S.
5-10, Outside Hitter
A two-time team MVP and captain for five seasons across her school and club teams, Lauinger was also named All-Oakland Community College Math League for Algebra 2 and Chemistry. Her school's treasurer for the National Honor Society, she has also competed in the Quiz Bowl and is a member of the STEM club.
"Alexa is a tall outside hitter who will increase our offensive capabilities and help to fill the void left by two graduating players in the same position," Gardner said. "I am looking forward to utilizing her strengths."
The incoming freshmen will join a group that has continued to improve in every statistical category over the last three seasons, although with a graduating class that received a substantial amount of playing time last year, they will be shouldered with significant responsibility. Among those returning are rising sophomore Subhadra Vetrivel (Redmond, Wash. / Overlake), who ranked second on the team in kills and total blocks while also tying for second in service aces. Rising senior Suzannah Osekowsky (Saratoga, Calif. / Saratoga) and junior Mayra Melendez (Salinas, Calif. / York), both regulars in the rotation each of the past two years, also return.