SEATTLE — Among the 15 players that will report to Seattle U volleyball on Friday, August 9, seventh-year head coach James Finley welcomes six newcomers into the fold for the 2019 campaign.
“As a whole, this group brings a solid work ethic which will help us continue to compete at a higher level and be more consistent,” said Finley. “Each person will have individual expectations, but freshman have had tendency to surprise us, and in the past we’ve generally had one or two win out a position battle. While most will provide depth early, I fully expect each of them to challenge for playing time and will be plenty of opportunity as the season goes on.”
Headlining the crop of fresh faces is junior transfer Sam Hayward who returns home to the Evergreen State after spending the last two seasons with Nevada. A highly-sought after recruit out of high school, Hayward appeared in 45 matches, starting 26 for the Wolf Pack. Hayward, a 6-1 outside hitter, will provide a solid net presence for the Redhawks as she comes with a heavy swing that put away 272 kills while defensively notching 78 blocks in 146 sets for the Mountain West member.
Also an outside hitter, Amaris Carter will don the Seattle U red and black in 2019. A freshman hailing from the Lone Star State, Carter had a decorated high school career that included twice being listed to the coveted AVCA Phenom Watch List before earning an AVCA All-American nomination as a senior. The 5-foot-9 Dallas native has strong ball control skills, but also has the ability to jump well and possesses a solid swing.
In the middle of the front line, Finley adds freshman Johnasia Carr and Lauren McCabe. The duo will provide height as Carr measures 5-foot-11 while McCabe comes in at 6-2.
Switching coasts is the aforementioned Carr who joins the lineup from Yonkers, N.Y., where she was a three-year starter for her high school earning various individual accolades including Scholar-Athlete Team honors as senior while also serving as team captain. A raw-talent, Carr will provide depth early but is expected to contribute as the season proceeds.
McCabe meanwhile is a talented middle that was a two-year starter for her high school, helping the team capture a 6A state title in 2018 as part of season-ending 17-match win streak to finish the year at 31-4. As a senior, McCabe hit .314 with 110 kills and registered 54 blocks. In addition to size, the Portland, Oregon-product brings a great work ethic which should translate into early playing time.
In contention to direct the offense for the Redhawks in 2019 will be Ezgi Ozkan. Prior to joining Seattle U, the 5-foot-10 setter from Istanbul, Turkey, played for club for one of the biggest clubs in Turkey, Fenerbahçe SK. There she helped the team to a national semifinal appearance in the Turkish league championship in 2017 after claiming a runner-up finish in 2015. Ozkan is expected to challenge for playing early and could potentially impact the system the Redhawks run.
A late addition to the lineup, walk-on Colby Lane comes with plenty of upside for Finley and the Redhawks. A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Lane had a solid high school career helping her team to consecutive postseason appearances in 2017 and 2018, while garnering various accolades, among which was the Jimmy Yuon Female Athlete Award in 2017-18. Ranked third among defensive specialists in the State of Hawaii last season, Lane’s ball control will provide early depth to the Seattle U backline, but she is expected to compete for playing time as the season moves on.
Seattle U begins play on Tuesday, Aug. 20 with an exhibition date at Portland before officially beginning 2019 action against Southern Miss at the Denver Classic 10 days later. The team’s home opener at the Redhawk Center is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 10 against in-state foe Eastern Washington. For ticket information visit GoSeattleU.com/tix.