WVB: Gaucho volleyball announces new signees

UCSB has signed four standout athletes to National Letters of Intent, head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch announced on Friday.

“We are extremely excited about what our 2016 recruiting class brings to the court,” Lantagne Welch said. “We add four players that can simply put the ball away for us, which will be huge for our offense. This group is competitive, hardworking and will bring a high level of playing experience from the club and the high school levels. We believe all four of these players have the ability to come in and make an impact in their freshman season. We expect them to hit the ground running when they step foot on UCSB’s campus and are really looking forward to adding them to our strong group of returners.”

After spending her high school years at nearby San Marcos HS, Chloe Allen will be making the short move to UCSB’s campus as an All-CIF caliber outside hitter. At 6-0, Allen has led the Royals to four straight Channel League titles and to a pair of CIF quarterfinal berths in her final two seasons. She was also recently ranked 94th in Prep Volleyball’s Seniors Aces List.

Last month, Allen was named co-MVP of the Channel League after leading the Royals in kills and was the key contributor in the team’s postseason run to the quarterfinals. One of her biggest performances this year came in a 3-0 win over Santa Barbara HS when she registered a match-high 16 kills, including the sweep-clincher.

Earlier this season in an impressive comeback win versus Dos Pueblos HS, Allen led the charge in overcoming a 2-1 deficit with 25-21 and 15-6 victories in the fourth and fifth games, respectively. Allen went off with 31 kills despite meeting two or three blockers most of the night.

“We are excited to bring in another player who has had such a successful high school career locally,” Lantagne Welch said. “Chloe is a great all around volleyball player and the community will really enjoy seeing her raise her game even higher at the college level. What sets Chloe apart is her physicality on the court and the force at which she hits the ball. She has tools to be a very strong blocker, has great defensive range, and the ability to terminate from the front and back row.”

Rowan Ennis will be making the move from Virginia Beach to Goleta Beach when she joins UCSB next season. The 6-1 middle blocker played her prep career at First Colonial HS where she holds the record for most career kills at 1,340. She was most recently named Honorable Mention AVCA Under Armour All-America.

Ennis has led her team to a pair of regular season titles and Conference 1 Tournament championships in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Those same years, the Patriots were crowned 6A South Region Champions, while they went on to clinch the VHSL 6A State Championship in 2014.

Individually, she was selected as the Conference I Player of the Year in 2015, First Team All-Conference I three times, First Team 6A South Region twice, First Team VHSL 6A All-State two times, and First Team VHSCA 6A All-State twice.

“Rowan is a great fit for UCSB volleyball and will bring some East Coast grit to our team,” Lantagne Welch said. “Rowan is an extremely versatile player who can really play any of the front row positions and score out of all of them. We initially recruited Rowan as a middle blocker, however, she developed into a very successful 6 rotation outside hitter for her high school team this year, taking them to the 6A Virginia State Semifinals. Her flexibility to be a middle, outside or right side will add much needed depth and competition at those positions.”

A 5-11 outside hitter, Megan Rice will be joining the Gauchos after being a top attacker for Redondo Union HS (Redondo Beach, Calif.), a school she led to the Div. I Championship this year. Last season, she averaged 4.9 kills per set, finishing with 244 overall and a .362 hitting percentage. In one of her best performances, she came through with 26 kills in a three-game sweep of her school’s rival Mira Costa.

Those numbers helped her earn a plethora of honors, which include being named Third Team AVCA All-America and to MaxPreps.com’s Top 125 Senior Ace list.

Even as a sophomore, Rice came through in big matches, as she tallied 14 kills and 11 digs in a four-set win over Mater Dei in the CIF-Southern Section Div. IAA Championship. In her career, she has led the Sea Hawks to three straight league titles and back-to-back appearances in the CIF-SS Finals. Most recently, Rice led Redondo Union HS with 32 kills and six blocks in a four-set win over Torrey Pines in the regional semifinals.

“Megan Rice just led her Redondo Union High School team to back-to-back state championships, which is very difficult to do in California,” Lantagne Welch said. “Megan is simply a terminator. She is a big jumper with a lively arm, can get up there and compete with the best of them. She goes hard and gives everything she has on the court. She is working diligently to improve her all-around game and has added variety to her attack in the past year. We love her aggressive attitude on the court and look to her to make an immediate impact next year.”

Charlie Robinson will be joining UCSB as a 6-0 middle blocker after a standout career at Marymount High School (Pacific Palisades, Calif.), a school she led to a top-10 ranking among Southern California teams in 2014. That season, the Sailors finished 28-7 in winning the Mission League and reaching the CIF quarterfinals.

A perennial starter, Robinson has compiled 232 career kills with a .300 hitting percentage, while also registering 23.5 blocks. Entering this year, she owned the 16th most kills among current Southern California players.

Now a team captain, Robinson’s senior season has gotten off to a great start, as she was selected as one of the nation’s top 150 players in PrepVolleyball’s Senior Aces list. One of her best performances this season was dropping 12 kills with a .520 hitting clip in a two-game sweep of La Costa Canyon at the Redondo Classic. She was named all-tournament that weekend after finishing with an overall .600 hitting percentage.

“Charlie Robinson will come in and immediately be the team’s best one footed attacker,” Lantagne Welch noted. “She definitely fills a need for us there as a middle with her incredible quickness that enables her to always be available for her setter. Charlie has a great work ethic and is one of those players that just makes things happen on the court because she will work hard for as long as it takes in every rally and every point. Charlie’s game isn’t about flash, but she is all about consistency. We look forward to adding her great work ethic and her even better character to our program.”

These four standout student-athletes will be joining a UCSB team that will feature ten returners, including a pair of All-Big West players in middle blocker Phoebe Grunt and libero Emilia Petrachi.