Gauchos Sign Two Top Players to NLI's

Dec. 2, 2010


Hanna Nielson, left, and Halle Aiken are both expected to be contributors as freshmen next year for the UCSB women's volleyball team.

The UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball team signed two top prep players to National Letters of Intent to join the Gauchos for the 2011 season, head coach Kathy Gregory announced on Thursday.

Coming to the squad from San Diego's Steele Canyon High is outside hitter Halle Aiken, a 6-foot-1 two-time team captain and all-league MVP. Aiken finished second in the state in hitting percentage as a senior and 13th in the nation. She also finished in the top four in the Grossmont Hills League in every statistical category.

A standout student, Aiken has been heavily involved as a school team leader and in the Pink Ribbon Club, helping raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer. She has volunteered more than 100 hours of community service through her area YMCA.

"She is a skilled athlete, who is built to play volleyball," Gregory said. "She can be an impact player on the left and right side. She has tremendous quickness and jumping ability and is a smart player who will contribute as a freshman."

Joining Aiken in the incoming class is Hanna Nielson, a top-notch setter from Saratoga, Calif. A four-time all-league and all-section pick, Nielson is a 5-foot-11 left-hander who should help ease the loss of graduating All-American setter Dana Vargas.

Nielson served as a team captain for her club team, Vision, achieving a bronze medal at the 2010 Junior Olympics as well as winning a pair of gold medals in two separate tournaments. She also was a team captain for her club team in 2009, winning a silver medal in a tournament.

"She is the prototype of what a setter should be," Gregory said. "She is extremely athletic and she plays on the highest-level club team. She is more than capable of starting as a freshman and she will surely lead us to victories."