Dec. 3, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
With its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005 under its belt, the LMU volleyball program is already stocking up for another run next year, signing a pair of standout student-athletes for the 2013 season. Freshman Kristie Hewko and junior transfer Ayana Whitaker will both play for the Lions and Head Coach Tom Black next year.
Hewko will come to LMU after a stellar four-year career at Rosary High School in Fullerton, Calif. The 6'0" outside hitter, who played for Laguna Beach and Mizuno Long Beach Volleyball Clubs, fielded offers from Division I programs across the nation, but ultimately decided on LMU after earning All-Trinity League honors and an MVP nod in her senior season. A four-year varsity starter for Rosary, Hewko was an All-County Underclassman according to OCVarsity while also earning second team All-Trinity League honors as a sophomore. Working as hard in the classroom as on the court, she earned Scholar Athlete recognition in all four years of high school. Other accolades included an All-Tournament selection at the Junior Olympics 15's, back-to-back selections to the SCVA HP Gold Medal Team, and a third-place finish at the Best of the Beach in 2011.
"The day Kristie committed to our program was an exciting one," Black stated. "She has the potential to bring so much to our program. Kristie is a six-rotation outside hitter who has competed successfully at the highest levels of club volleyball. She is a great jumper with a strong arm, but can also play the entire game. She brings a joy to her team, and to the game, that will be fun to be around every day. She competes hard and with passion, and we are thrilled to have her become a Lion."
Whitaker will transfer to LMU after spending the 2010 and 2011 seasons at Cal State Fullerton. The 6'3" middle blocker did not compete at the collegiate level in 2012. While at Fullerton, Whitaker appeared in 13 matches as a sophomore, posting 63 kills (1.37 per set) with four block solos and 30 block assists (0.74 blocks per set). As a freshman, Whitaker played in 49 sets over 16 matches, averaging 0.78 blocks per set (six solos and 32 assists). Prior to heading to Cal State Fullerton, the Murrieta, Calif. native prepped at Vista Murrieta High School. While at Vista Murrieta, Whitaker was a four-year letterwinner and was named to the AVCA's High School All-American Watch List as a senior.
"Ayana brings a level of physicality and explosiveness to the middle blocker position that will help us a great deal," Black said. "She already has quality Division I playing experience and I was very impressed in the recruiting process as I got to know her and her family. She is focused on getting the best out herself and her ability through this experience, which is great news for our team and program. Ayana can be as good as she wants to be, and we can't wait to get started with her."
When asked about the duo as a whole, Black responded, "We can't wait to welcome these exceptional student-athletes into our women's volleyball program. Our program took an important step this season in making the NCAA tournament, and we know the addition of these two young women, as well as the significant number of returners we have, will allow us a great opportunity to continue building LMU volleyball to where we all want it to go."
- GO LIONS -