Lindsay Wilber knows the significance of Dakota Wesleyan University's volleyball recruiting class. While DWU returns five seniors from its 17-14 team in 2018, their impending graduation is not lost on the Tiger coach.
"I'm excited about getting a couple of good local kids," Wilber said, of her 10-player class. "Next year we'll have five seniors and all five play, so this and my 2020 class are really important classes."
The Tigers signed six players from South Dakota, two from Minnesota and one from each Iowa and Nebraska.
DWU's emphasis on the court was evident-finding an outside hitter to eventually replace Becky Frick. It signed seven outside hitters, two defensive specialists and a setter.
"The (2019) class has quite a few outside hitters in essence because we're going to lose a good impact outside hitter," Wilber said. "... My 2020 class will be focused more on middle hitters. It kind of just depends on the year and the positions we have open."
The Tigers made sure to add height, too. Six of their commits are 5-foot-8 or taller, including Watertown's 5-foot-10 Mariah Gloe and Mitchell's 5-foot-11 Mackenzie Miller.
"That'll help us, especially with our pin hitters, like our outside and right side hitters," Wilber said.
Gloe was named to the Class AA all-state second team in 2018, while she finished her career with 919 digs and 755 kills.
Miller owns the Kernel records for most kills in a career (1,159) and season (459) as she was also a Class AA all-state first team member in 2016 and 2017. While Wilber thinks signing Mitchell players is good for both programs and the community, Miller-the tallest player in the Tigers' class-can also make an impact on the court.
"She tore her ACL last year, so she's got a little work to do coming back to get back to where she was when she was a junior," Wilber said. "She's a multi-sport athlete, so she knows how to put the time in. And she's big-she has big hands and is lengthy."
DWU's recruiting class might not be finalized, though. Wilber pointed to adding another setter as a possibility since Madeline Else (Holstein, Iowa) is the only setter in its current class. She dished out 1,626 assists in her career at Ridge View High School.
Even if the Tigers' class stays put, their 10 true freshmen join an experienced team. However, Wilber didn't rule out a couple of them seeing the court right away. The Tigers also signed Wagner's Faith Tyler, Wessington Springs' Maddie Neely, McCook Central/Montrose's Hope Bartmann and Allison Jamison, of Sioux Falls.
"Even from last year with my returning kids, it's always a clean slate when we go in fall," Wilber said. "I never go, 'You're playing here or you're playing here.' There's probably a couple who could probably contribute right away."
2019 DWU volleyball recruiting class
(players are incoming freshman, unless noted)
Hope Bartmann: 5-4, Montrose, McCook Central/Montrose, DS; Dannielle Burns: 5-8, Raymond, Minn, MACCRAY HS, DS; Madeline Else: Holstein, Iowa, Ridge View HS, S; Mariah Gloe: 5-10, Watertown, Watertown HS, OH; Allison Jamison: 5-6, Sioux Falls, Sioux Falls Lincoln HS, OH; Miah Kunkel: 5-9, Adrian, Minn, Adrian HS, OH; Mackenzie Miller: 5-11, Mitchell, Mitchell HS, OH; Maddie Neely: 5-5, Wessington Springs, Wessington Springs HS, OH; Hannah Stogdill: 5-8, Blair, Neb., Blair HS, OH; Faith Tyler: 5-7, Wagner, Wagner HS, OH.