SEATTLE – (June 26) As the 2017 season sits just around the corner, Seattle University Volleyball Head Coach James Finley has announced the addition of seven new faces to the Redhawk program.
“We are excited to announce a strong and complete class that fills the needs of the team for the 2017 season,” said Finley, who enters his fifth season at SU this fall. “This class will challenge the returners for playing time and increase the level of competition in the gym every day. Each player will contribute to the mission of Seattle U, our team culture and the academic standard our team is dedicated to.”
The seven new faces come from a variety of backgrounds, including two international players and five others representing five different hometown states.
Victoria Demmene (Sarpsborg, Norway/Sauda videregåande skule, avd. Sand/Skjeberg VBK)
Demmene has played for the Skjeberg VBK club team in Norway, leading the squad to a pair of Norwegian Championships in 2013 and 2017. She was named the best outside hitter in 2013 and the MVP of the Norwegian Championship tournament in 2017. Demmene has also competed for the Junior National Team, which won the North European Volleyball Zonal Association (NEVZA) Championship in 2013 and placed second in 2016. She also won Beach Volleyball Nationals in 2013 with her region team.
“Victoria is a seasoned player with a high IQ and a desire to compete, while helping her team get better around her,” said Finley. “She is an outstanding student who will contribute to the academic fabric of Seattle U. She is a solid six-rotation outside and right-side.”
Tijana Milojevic (Belgrade, Serbia/Gateway Legacy Christian Academy/Red Star Belgrade)
Milojevic hails from Belgrade, Serbia, but spent her final prep year at the Gateway Legacy Christian Academy in St. Louis. In Serbia, she was a member of the Red Star Brigade club team, and also competed for the Serbian Junior National Team. She was twice named the best libero in Serbia, once named the best libero of the Balkans and once named the best libero of Europe.
“Tijana has demonstrated her ability to play against a high level opponent and be successful," said Finley. "We believe her speed and ability to serve receive and play defense will have an immediate impact on our teams' success. A great academic, intense student athlete who is determine to win.”
Michelle Taynton (Vacaville, Calif./Vacaville HS/Five Starz Volleyball Club)
Taynton hails from Vacaville High School where she was a Monticello Empire All-League selection as a senior, led VHS to a league title and departed her prep career holding six school and league records for passing and digging. In seven combined seasons playing for Five Starz Volleyball Club (six years) and Northern California Volleyball Club (one year), Taynton's teams qualified five times for the USVA Junior Nationals. Her squad won Gold at the 2015 USVA Junior Nationals in the 16's Division and she was selected to the All-Tournament Team that year.
“Michelle comes from a successful junior's career where she made a huge impact on the success of her team,” Finley said. “She is a very capable libero who plays with a positive attitude and high energy. She always works hard and strives for excellence in all areas of her life. She will contribute to our success on and off the court.”
Rachel Stark (Minneapolis, Minn./Washburn HS/Kansas State)
Stark joins the Redhawks as a redshirt freshman after spending her first collegiate season at Kansas State. Originally from Minneapolis, Minn., she was a four-year varsity letterwinner at Washburn High School. She earned Class AAA All-State Honorable Mention honors in 2015 and was a two-time All-Minneapolis City Conference selection. The outside hitter also competed for the Mizuno Northern Lights Club Team.
“Rachel is a quick, strong six-rotation outside and right-side hitter,” said Finley. “She has the ability to take over a match with her dynamic play. Rachel is a mature student-athlete who will have a quick learning curve creating success for her and our team.”
Mahra McLeod (Emmett, Idaho/Emmett High School/Boise Volleyball Club)
McLeod hails from Emmett High School in Emmett, Idaho, where she was a 3A First Team All-State selection in 2015 and an All-Star selection in 2016. McLeod, who also played for the Boise Volleyball Club, was a two-time winner of her school's Silver Academic Award.
“Mahra brings a fast arm and big block to the middle position,” said Finley. “She is a determined player and has often carried her teams' success on her shoulders. She performs well under pressure and brings positive energy to practice and games.”
Anna Palmer (Louisville, Ky./Assumption HS/KIVA)
Palmer comes to Seattle U from Louisville, Ky., where she prepped at Assumption High School and played club ball for KIVA (Kentucky-Indiana Volleyball Academy). She made the All-Tournament Team at the National Junior Classic in Chicago in 2017 while her club team also finished third in AAU's in 2016. Academically at Assumption HS, Palmer was A McAuley Scholar, member of the Beta Club, First Honor Roll and ambassador on the Executive Board.
“Anna is a quality player and person,” Finely said. “She has been trained well and has the ability to contribute in a variety of rolls. She has a powerful arm, solid ball control and has a good eye for the game. She will push herself and those around her to do more. Anna is also a strong student who will be a great addition to Seattle U.”
Kallin Spiller (Seattle, Wash./Lakeside School/Sudden Impact VBC)
Spiller stays in her hometown to continue her volleyball, and basketball, career after prepping at Lakeside School. The two-sport athlete signed an NLI with the Redhawks' women's basketball program and will focus on hoops in the fall and winter of 2017 before joining the volleyball team in the spring of 2018. At Lakeside, Spiller was a four-year varsity volleyball letterwinner, a two-time First Team All-Metro League selection and the Metro League MVP as a senior in 2016. She helped lead the Lions to two Metro League titles, including the first in 28 years, and on to the state tournament where they won the 3A Washington State title. Spiller was named the MVP of the 3A State Tournament.
“Kallin is tough competitor who knows how to win,” Finley said. “She will challenge those around her to get better, play harder and do it with class. As a six-rotation, big, strong outside and right-side hitter she will be a force to deal with.”