UCSB’s volleyball recruits ranked among nation’s best

Kristen Berlo

Recent San Marcos High School graduate Kristen Berlo will compete for the Gauchos in volleyball and softball. (Presidio Sports Photo)

The UCSB women’s volleyball 2013 recruiting class has been ranked No. 30 in the nation by Prepvolleyball.com, it was announced late last week.

The incoming class will bring much needed youth to a team that will have four of its returning starters entering their senior seasons.

“We look forward to our class of 2013 joining us this summer,” said head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch. “They are a talented, driven group and with hard work we expect them to come in and challenge to get on the floor immediately. It says a lot about the bright future of UCSB volleyball to have our incoming class ranked in the top-30.”

A pair of middle blockers highlight the Gauchos’ new recruits.

Kristen Berlo, a 6-1 middle from San Marcos High, will actually compete for the Gauchos in both volleyball and softball. Her athleticism allows her to cover the entire net while chipping in on offense. The MVP of the Channel League in her junior year, Berlo will bring a renowned work ethic to the program.

“Kristen is only in her second year of competitive club volleyball and her ceiling is extremely high,” said Lantagne Welch. “She is a natural off one foot behind the setter and is a strong, dominating blocker with the ability to close the block from pin to pin.”

Phoebe Grunt, a middle out of St. Joseph Notre Dame high school in Alameda, Calif., will instantly become the Gauchos’ tallest player at 6-4. She is noted as a physical player with the ability to score and block at a high level. Grunt compiled 371 kills and 110 blocks in her senior season for the Pilots. She was named MVP of her high school team three straight years. Grunt was also named a Bay Area News Group “Star Athlete” in each of her four years of high school.

“Phoebe certainly brings a great court presence,” commented Lantagne Welch. “She can impact the game with the physicality of her blocking and by attacking over opponents on a variety of sets.”

Other standouts include Ali Spindt, an athletic opposite with the ability to play setter and outside hitter as well, who will come to UCSB from Menlo-Atherton High School, where she was named an All-American after her junior year.

“Ali is very competitive, an all-around six rotation player that puts everything out on the floor,” Lantagne Welch said. “She positively impacts her teams in so many ways with her versatility and ability to play different positions as needed.”

Middle blocker Allie Sullberg and defensive specialists Ella Roberts and Helen Gannon will also compete for playing time as freshmen.

“Everyone in our program is looking forward to the 2013 season,” said Lantagne Welch. “The team has been working hard and coming together through all the changes. We are excited that our freshman class will be here soon and working together with our current to team to have UCSB volleyball on the rise.”