Tigers Sign Three on Wednesday
Nov. 15, 2012
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - With the early signing period now open, University of Memphis head volleyball coach, April Jauregui announced the signing of three student-athletes, Wednesday. Catlin Lilly, Nicole Woods and McKenzie Hayes all had decorated high school careers, and will put on the Blue and Gray next season.
"As we move into the BIG EAST, we know we have a whole new set of challenges. All three of our signees are ready to face those challenges and contribute to this program in 2013. This is our first BIG EAST recruiting class and we know we are bringing in players who will mesh well with our current team," Jauregui said. "Going forward, it is all about mindset and togetherness. We have been working towards that this season. It is not something that can happen overnight, and a big priority for our staff in this recruiting class was putting together the pieces to add to our current team. We looked at character and work ethic first. We did our homework on these girls. I am proud to be adding these three exceptional young ladies to our program. Our task isn't done yet, and we still have one scholarship to fill for the spring. We are working hard to fill that spot and continue to add to our team dynamic."
Catlin Lilly - New Albany, Ind. (New Albany)
Lilly earned four letters in volleyball at New Albany high school in New Albany, Ind., and was placed on the Gatorade Player of the Year watch list in 2012. Playing for coach John Breeding, she earned All-State honors in each her junior and senior seasons and was named the News and Tribune Area Player of the year in 2012. The outside hitter was also named first team All-Hoosier Hill Conference after her junior and senior seasons.
"Cat is a tremendous athlete who will come in and have an immediate impact on our program. She brings with her a tenacious work ethic and desire to win. I am impressed with her ability, volleyball IQ, but most importantly, her character both on and off the court," Jauregui said. "She makes no excuses. She simply wants to be the best, and I am eager to see what the future holds. I believe she will mesh well with our current players and come in and immediately be a leader in her class. We have not only added Cat, but her entire family to our program. They have already been an integral part in planning for the future."
During her senior year, Lilly averaged 4.31 kills per set, registering 272 total kills with an attack percentage of .339. She also totaled 188 digs for an average of 3.0 digs per set. In her career, Lilly recorded 947 kills, 2.46 per set, and had an attack percentage of .275. Lilly's AAU volleyball team, KIVA, has finished in the top-five at the AAU Championships in each of the past four years. Academically, she is in the top five percent of her class at New Albany High School.
"I chose the University of Memphis simply because I fell in love with it. It had everything I wanted in a school. I loved the atmosphere of the volleyball program and what they wanted from me as a player. I instantly felt the team's and coaches' dedication to the sport," Lilly said. "The campus was exactly what I was looking for. I love the campus being all together, but also having a city really close by. I couldn't be any happier with my choice in playing volleyball for the Memphis Tigers. GO TIGERS!"
Nicole Woods - St. Charles, Ill. (East)
Woods comes to Memphis from St. Charles East High School in St. Charles, Ill. She helped the Saints win a regional championship in 2011 on their way to a third place finish at state under the guidance of coach Jennifer Kull. Her teams also won regional and sectional championships in 2010. Woods earned three letters at St. Charles East and was an All-Upstate 8 Conference selection as a senior.
"Nicole brings size to our front court play. She is very coachable and open and determined to work on her game. She had an excellent high school season and really showed the type of player and leader she can be," said Jauregui. "Nicole has a quiet presence, but she is very determined. I know she will continue to push herself during this club season and will come in ready to contribute as we join the BIG EAST."
The 2012 team captain, she was also named to the All-Area Team by the Daily Herald in 2012. Woods was on the 2012 Under Armour All-American watch list, and the Chicago Sun Times named her as one of the top-50 players in the state of Illinois. During her senior year, she registered 361 kills, 215 digs and 41 aces. She was named academic all-conference three times and is a member of National Honor Society.
"I had a gut feeling about Memphis," Woods said. "The university and the volleyball program both have everything I am looking for in a school: great coaching staff, excellent business school, and of course, warm weather. I felt so welcomed when I came to visit and I don't think I could have picked a better school than the University of Memphis!"
McKenzie Hayes - Tell City, Ind. (Tell City)
Hayes played for her mother, Dalonda Hayes at Tell City High School, and earned four letters in volleyball. She comes to Memphis as Tell City High School's all-time leader in kills (2,153) and blocks (412). Hayes helped the Lady Marksmen to records of 28-5 and 27-4 in her final two seasons while winning back-to-back Pocket Athletic Conference titles. She had a career attack percentage of .409, hitting over .400 for three seasons. She was a three-time All-PAC performer while being named second team All-State as a junior and senior.
"McKenzie hails from a small town, but there is nothing small about her game. She packs a powerful swing and is extremely quick. We were thrilled when we received her information," said Jauregui. "She is a dynamic player who has literally played all positions. We look to see her contribute on the right side, as she is a lefty, that will be a big advantage."
Hayes compiled more than 1,000 digs, and nearly 1,000 assists in her time at Tell City. Hayes also participated in basketball and softball, earning four letters in each sport. In basketball, she was named honorable mention All-State as a junior and is a three-time all-county and all-conference performer. A member of National Honor Society, Hayes has also been on the Student Council all four years, and has served as her class' Secretary, Vice President and President.
"I have always wanted to play volleyball at the highest level possible, and when the opportunity came to attend the University of Memphis and play in the BIG EAST, I didn't think it could get any bigger than that," Hayes said. "Then I made my visit and got to meet the team and coaches and realized it was more than just volleyball. The team made me feel welcomed, and it was easy to see that this was more of a family than a team. The coaches made a lasting impression on me with the way they treated me and my family. I knew I wanted to play for them before the visit was over. I really liked the city, campus, coaches, and players, so the decision to come to the University of Memphis was an easy one to make. I am looking forward to being a Tiger!"