Six Top Recruits for 2012 Nabbed by Centre Volleyball
Centre College’s 2012 graduation made four very fine student-athletes eligible on the alumni side of the volleyball net in our annual match. They will be facing a solid group of returnees as well as six highly touted freshmen, all of whom are expected to compete immediately for court time. Although declining to assign a specific rank to this recruiting class, Head Coach James Neyhouse did say, “It is certainly among the best that Centre College has enjoyed: I do predict that these six individuals will join with our current players to make us extremely competitive in our new league.” (Centre joins the Southern Athletic Association, SAA, effective this fall.)
Beth Cecil, whose parents are Robert and Annette Cecil, is a 5-9 outside hitter from Bardstown, Kentucky, who played for Bethlehem High School and Kentucky Heartland Volleyball Club. Beth earned Academic All-State honors when she was honored by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association as a first-team member each of the past four years. In addition, the American Volleyball Coaches Association has named Beth the National Player of the Week within the State of Kentucky three times; and the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association placed her on its All-State first team, honors she earned in part by leading all high school players in the nation in kills last year. She said of her new school, “Centre has such a warm, welcoming atmosphere, to go along with its strong academics. The opportunity to play volleyball at such an institution just seemed to be the perfect fit for me!” Coach Neyhouse said, “I agree wholeheartedly with her. Beth has been named to the Under Armour All-American team (which is composed of the top 100 players in the country); and she, in turn, has selected Centre. Although I may have a slight bias, I can hardly imagine a better fit.”
Abbi Jacobi, the daughter of Tim and Donna Jacobi, is from Sacred Heart Academy High School in Louisville, Kentucky. She is a 5-10 outside and middle hitter, whose club ball was with Mid-America Volleyball Academy (MAVA), most recently on the 18-Elite team coached by the legendary Jeff Wise. Besides her athletic accomplishments, which include being a part of teams that have won several tournaments over the years, Abbi counts a first place from the Women’s Club of St. Matthews Student Art & Crafts Competition among her favourite accolades. Abbi says that she chose Centre “because the people are so friendly”, and she wanted to “make lasting relationships with my team and classmates.” “Abbi will bring a lot to the table with her ability to terminate the ball from anywhere on the net“, stated Neyhouse. He also went on to add, “Louisville is the hometown of several players who have contributed to our volleyball program, including an All-American and several All-Conference players; and I am glad to have Abbi to help continue that happy tradition.”
On the subject of “happy traditions”, Elizabeth Janszen continues one: She is the daughter of Jim and Iveta Janszen , who are the proud parents of current Centre College junior Catherine Janszen also. Neyhouse offered, “Even though they share many of the same character and skill attributes, each of them will bring her own gifts to our team. Really for me the only advantage to their being sisters is a potential savings in postage.” For her part, Elizabeth wrote, “I decided to go to Centre because of its enriching academics, its beautiful campus, and because of the school pride shown by the students. I cannot wait to continue my volleyball career at Centre and bond with an amazing group of girls.” Elizabeth is 5-10 and a setter from Saint Ursula Academy High School and the Cincy Peppers Volleyball Club in Cincinnati, Ohio (one of the very few cities that can compete with Louisville for volleyball supremacy at the high-school level). Elizabeth earned First Honors at St. Ursula all of her four years there, and, among other academic honors, was a member of the Spanish Honor Society. She was twice on teams that finished high in the AAU National Championships.
Erin McGrath, a 5-7 defensive specialist, whose parents are Kevin and Rosi McGrath, is from Mercy High School and MAVA in Louisville, Kentucky. Erin plays her club ball with fellow recruit Abbi Jacobi on the the 18-Elite team. Coach Neyhouse likes to remind his players from time to time that “Defense is just about 50 percent of a volleyball match.” He feels that Erin “has the ability to become a main defensive force for us.” Erin has been a key member of several championship teams: Most notable perhaps are the AAU and the JVDA National Champions, both from 2008. Erin states, “I have been playing competitive volleyball since I was 10, and knew I wanted to continue playing in college. I also wanted to have the college experience. Centre was the perfect fit for me, being a small school, which would let me have both. I am excited about my upcoming year at Centre!” Neyhouse simply edits, “Erin brings so much energy to the court along with her great ball control skills, that her upcoming year, plus three more, has me very excited as well.”
Jessica Peak is the daughter of Paul and Merry Peak, and comes to Centre from Owensboro, Kentucky. An outside hitter, Jessica is 6-0. She played her club ball for Audubon Volleyball Academy, and she was just named the Best Leader in Class at Apollo, a high school that has been extraordinarily good to Centre in recent years. During her senior campaign, not only was Jessica First Team All-State, but also she attained the highest GPA in the district for volleyball. Jessica reported, “I have been fascinated by Centre volleyball since the first volleyball camp that I attended there. As I explored my opportunity to play volleyball for the Colonels, I was won over by the idea of tradition and strong team relationships that are associated with Centre volleyball.” Neyhouse’s opinion is that, “Jessica speaks of the concept of tradition in Centre volleyball: It exists because of the individual players who have come together to play here; and I am confident that Jessica and her teammates will add significantly to that unique tradition of ours. Of course, it doesn’t hurt our tradition that Jessica can bring a lot of power to our front line.”
Paige Poggemeier, according to Neyhouse’s memory, is the first Missouri player at Centre: The daughter of David and Margaret Poggemeier, she hails from St. Charles in the “Show-Me” state. Paige is Centre’s second (alphabetically speaking) 5-7 defensive specialist among this year’s recruits. She captained her Lutheran High School team, and was a valuable member of Team Momentum Volleyball Club. Paige received First Team recognition at the All-Conference (twice), all District (twice) and All-Region levels. Her selection of Centre was, “because I knew the opportunities available to me were unmatched by any other school I’d looked at, and the school seemed to positively impact the lives of everyone who attended Centre.” Coach Neyhouse responded, “Paige is right about the great opportunities at Centre, and I am glad that she includes volleyball: We will be graduating two great defensive players next year, and I am sure that Paige is ready to step in and help us.
In fact, according to Coach Neyhouse, each of the six recruits introduced above “will make us a stronger team: I would be astounded if several of them didn’t earn considerable court time this fall. Although we retained the nucleus of a fine team, we are graduating four young ladies whose presence was monumental, not only during matches but also throughout their seasons and years at Centre.”
Nevertheless, Neyhouse “reluctantly” concedes, “Of course, it is our players responsibility to leave us (Our graduation rate remains a cool 100 percent.); and these six young ladies will do exactly that in four years. Meanwhile, though, I could hardly be more elated with this group as well as with what I firmly believe they can achieve for themselves with our volleyball team, and through the limitless wider experience of the rest of their Centre College experience.”
The first test (at least with respect to the volleyball portion) for the six recruits is a union with their teammates on August 31 for the Maryville Tournament in Maryville, Tennessee. The worthy opponents will be host Maryville College at 1:00pm EST and Washington and Lee University at 3:30pm EST.