April 8, 2014

UCSB Women's Volleyball Announces 2014 Recruiting Class

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The 2013 co-Big West Champion UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team has added six freshmen to their roster for the 2014 season.

"We are excited about our 2014 recruiting class," Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. "After arriving here in Feb. of 2013, we had to really get going on this class in a hurry and we are pleased that this talented group will provide help in various areas."

Sydney Bast is a 5-6 libero who played for the Mizuno Long Beach Volleyball club and prepped at St. Lucy's Priory HS with head coach Sean Douglass. She's coming off a senior season with the Regents when she was named All-CIF, the team's Defensive Player of the Year, and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune Player of the Year. During that same year, she made the switch from her traditional position of libero to outside hitter, yet her defensive numbers only improved. Bast recorded a career-high 258 digs in 2013 and also tallied personal-bests of 239 kills and 48 aces. At St. Lucy's, Bast led the team to four league titles and back-to-back CIF Championships during her freshman and sophomore years.

(From left to right)
Kelly Bielaski, Noa Nightingale, Sydney Bast

With the Mizuno Long Beach Volleyball Club, Bast played a pivotal role in the club and was a team captain for seven years. She helped lead her 2010 team to a silver medal finish at the Junior Olympics. 

She is also an accomplished beach player, as she won the AAU Beach National Championship with Susannah Muno in 2011.

"Sydney has the distinction of being my first recruit here at UCSB," Lantagne Welch said. "In fact, she came back just a few minutes after her visit to give me the good news.  We've been following Sydney for quite some time and we know not only are we getting a great person, but we are also getting a consistent, reliable, and team oriented back court player." 

Kelly Bielaski is a 5-8 libero who competed for the Rage Volleyball Club and prepped at Dougherty Valley HS under head coach Jen Cincotta. The Walnut Creek, Calif. native concluded her high school career by becoming the Wildcats' all-time leader in kills, digs, and aces. In her senior year, Bielaski served as the team captain and was named the MVP and, for the second time, the Offensive Player of the Year. Seeing time at both libero and outside hitter, Bielaski was a four-time all-league selection, earning first team accolades three times. In concluding her freshman campaign, she was named the Wildcats' Rookie of the Year and helped bring her school to its first ever postseason. From there, her school made four consecutive North Coast Section championship appearances. 

Competing with the Rage 17s, she helped the club finish first in the Northern California Volleyball Association. She also competed in the Open and National divisions of the Junior Nationals with the club. 

"Kelly made her mark with us with her solid passing every time we saw her play," Lantagne Welch said. "She has a quiet way of just getting the job done. She will be one of several players in this class helping to add to the consistency of our back court." 

(From left to right)
Chanel Hoffman, Jane Lamp, Megan Sullivan

Chanel Hoffman is a 6-0 outside hitter who played for the Mavericks Volleyball Club and prepped Santiago High School under the tutelage of Arlen Elvik. Hoffman ended her high school career as Riverside County's all-time kills leader with 1,338 kills. That year, she was also named the Div. II Player of the Year, the All-CIF Player of the Year, the All-League MVP, the HS GameTime Player of the Year, and a Prep Volleyball All-American. The accolades came on the heels of a season where Hoffman led the Sharks to their first appearances in both the CIF and State Championships. The team won their CIF Sectional and finished the season 40-1 and ranked among the top-50 in the nation. In her team's final game of the season against Archbishop Mitty HS, the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Hoffman recorded 21 kills and swung for a forceful .667 hitting percentage. A team captain for three seasons, Hoffman has been named all-league in every year since she was a sophomore. She picked up her first All-League MVP as a junior, and was All-State, All-CIF, and All-Area First Team that year as well. 

With the Mavericks Volleyball Club, Hoffman was named all-tournament at Junior Nationals in 2012 and 2013. Under head coach Phil Sutherland, she led the 16-1's Mavericks VBC to a silver medal at the 2012 Junior Olympics. 

"Chanel is a six rotation outside hitter with an outstanding all around game," Lantagne Welch said. "With her ability to pass, attack and defend at a high level, she will have opportunities to make an impact early and often in her career here at UCSB.  We love that she has been her team's go-to hitter in both high school and club, and that she has the confidence and experience to deliver key kills."

Jane Lamp is a 5-3 libero who competed with Sports Shack and the San Gabriel Elite Volleyball Club, and played at Thousand Oaks HS under head coach James Park. She was named the Lancers' MVP after the 2013 season when the team finished 12-2 and pulled off a 3-0 sweep over Calvary Chapel in the first round of the CIF Southern Sectionals. As a junior, she was selected as the team's Best Defensive Player after the Lancers went undefeated in league play, the team's third consecutive year in doing so. During her junior campaign, she was voted the team's Defensive Player of the Year after playing in every set (76) and leading the team with 4.3 digs per set, averaging nearly 13 per match. In both her junior and senior seasons, Lamp made First Team All-Marmonte League along with the All-Ventura County team.

On the club level, Lamp played for Sports Shack during her junior year and helped the team get the silver medal at the Junior Olympics. She played for San Gabriel Elite as a senior and helped the team place fourth at the Southern California Volleyball Association.

"From the first time I saw Jane play and what continues to stand out to me is her court energy and fire," Lantagne Welch said. "She really has a positive presence on the court that will help all of those who are playing around her.  She has that take charge attitude that you want in a libero."

Noa Nightingale is a 6-0 setter/right side hitter who played for Force/Synergy Force Volleyball Club and prepped at St. Francis HS, along with Megan Sullivan. In her senior year, she was listed in PrepVolleyball's Players to Watch and Senior Aces list. She swung for 197 kills that year and never missed a start, as the Troubadours achieved a top-25 national ranking from PrepVolleyball. In that same year, her team was the Northern California runner-up, placed first at the High Sierra Invitational, and repeated as league champion. During her junior season, Noa helped St. Francis capture its league title and a second-place finish in the State Championships.

Beyond high school, Nightingale competed in Junior Nationals with Force/Synergy Force WBC from 2008-14 and also had experience in sand volleyball with USA Beach Volleyball. Highlighting her sand career was competing in the 2013 USAV Beach High Performance Championships. 

"Noa is a great athlete and we've been happy with her progress since she first committed to us, her 'dream school'.  She is also that player that you can use anywhere you might need (having experience at setter, right side and outside hitter) and she'll embrace whatever role she is asked to play," Welch said. 

Megan Sullivan is a 6-3 middle blocker/right side hitter who played for Alynn Wright at St. Francis HS. She is coming off an impressive senior season when she led the Troubadors to an impressive 34-9 record and a No. 14 statewide ranking. That year, she led all of the state's Div. I right side hitters with a .353 hitting percentage and garnered numerous honors. She was selected to the Delta River All-League team, the Sacramento Bee All-Metro team, and was listed in PrepVolleyball.com's Senior Ace: The 150 & Just Missed. Sullivan had some of her best performances in the postseason, most notably in the NorCal Regional semifinals against No. 13 Homestead, when she hit at a .474 clip and made the game-winning kill. As a junior, Sullivan dominated at the net as a middle blocker when she swung at a .440 hitting percentage in season when her team finished second in the CIF State Div. I Championship.

"We were able to immediately address a key need in playing higher at the net with Megan," Lantagne Welch said. "We will count on that high touch to positively impact our blocking and attacking. Megan also brings versatility to be used as both a middle and a right."

The Gauchos are coming off a 2013 season when they captured the Big West crown in recording its best conference record (13-3) since 2005. UCSB is already preparing for next season with its spring schedule.