@MemphisVolley Inks Wellens and Baleilekutu For 2014 Season
May 27, 2014
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis volleyball program and head coach April Jauregui have announced the additions of Torika Baleilekutu and Charlotte Wellens to the roster for the 2014 season.
“I am happy to round out our 2014 recruiting class,” Jauregui said. “We will be bringing in 7 new players to join our current roster for next season. These players add a lot of depth at each position and will allow us to have an incredibly competitive training environment. We will need that consistent high level of play to reach the goals we have set for next year.”
Baleilekutu joins the Tigers after spending two years playing for Missouri State University West Plains. The Palo Alto, California native was part of a very successful Grizzlies team from for the past two years. They finished ninth at nationals during the 2012 season after taking their region. The Grizzlies finished the 2013 season in the top-20 of the NJCAA National Poll and were region champions in back-to-back years. Baleilekutu earned first team all-region honors both years with the Grizzlies. She also earned Academic All-American honors during the 2013-14 season.
“Torika, is a dynamic and strong athlete whom can swing out of the middle and right side,” Jauregui said. “When I watched her this spring, I was impressed with her competitive fire and leadership both on and off the court. I knew she possessed the intangibles we are looking for in a player. Coming off 2 successful seasons at West Plains has prepared her for the next level. She will bring an added level of leadership and desire to win to our strong core.”
Wellens joins the Tigers after spending the spring with Lindsey Wilson College. Before moving to the US, the 6-3 middle blocker played in the highest division of women’s volleyball in Belgium, at TSV Vilvoorde. She is part of the national youth program where they train at the national training center to hopefully play for the Belgian national women’s team.
“Charlotte, was a true blessing in disguise,” said Jauregui. “She started her career at an NAIA program and has a semester of high level training. This time is invaluable as she already possesses the understanding of what it takes to compete at the collegiate level. Her sheer size along the net will add a great blocking presence to our defensive scheme.”
The Tigers begin their season on the road with a tournament hosted by Saint Louis University August 29-30. Memphis Volleyball will have their home opener Sept. 30 when they host Ole Miss, in the second game of the Memphis home tournament.
On the court, the Tigers return four of the top-five hitters from the 2013 team, with all-conference middle blockers Lauren Hawkins and Alexis Wesley along with freshmen standouts Catlin Lilly and McKenzie Hayes. Top libero Aleksandra Petronijevic returns for her senior year, needing just 196 digs to break the program record for career digs, already holding the records for digs in a game and in a season.