MITCHELL, S.D. – Dakota Wesleyan University volleyball coach Eric Viney started his 2013 recruiting class with four signees, he announced this week.
Right side hitter Tara Ronke, setter Ellen Fowler, defensive specialist Kaitlyn Foote and middle hitter Katie Vetch will join the Tiger squad starting in the fall of 2013. Three are incoming freshmen and one is a sophomore, and two of the athletes will join the team during the 2013 spring semester to get a head start on learning the DWU system.
Ronke will have sophomore eligibility when the season starts in the fall. The Tyndall, S.D., native ran cross country at Dakota State University as a freshman in 2012 before making the decision to transfer and play volleyball. The Bon Homme High School graduate earned two varsity letters in volleyball and had a 93 percent serve receive rate and a 91 percent serve rate as a senior for the Cavaliers. The 5-foot-7 hitter earned all-conference honors in volleyball as a senior. She also lettered five times in basketball, six in track and two in cross country. She was a five-time state qualifier in track and two-time state qualifier in cross country, and was a member of the National Honor Society.
“Tara will come in this spring ready to learn our style of play,” Viney said. “We look to find out a lot about her abilities as an attacker in our system. She has a true desire to compete and improve every day.”
Fowler is a true freshman who will also join the Tigers at semester. The 5-9 setter is a Castaic, Calif., native and comes to Dakota Wesleyan from West Ranch High School. She earned two letters for the Wildcats and also played club volleyball for several years.
“We are happy to have someone like Ellen come into our program,” Viney said. “She has had a very successful high school and club career and to have that experience added to our roster is very special.
“We have never had a high school recruit come in at the start of the second semester. Our staff is very interested in seeing how well Ellen can progress this spring to help prepare her for the fall season. Our returning players are also excited to have the opportunity to work with someone that is new to the program before that short preseason time in August.”
Vetch, a 5-7 middle hitter from Lake Crystal, Minn., had 378 kills for Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial High School as a senior in 2012. She had 45 service aces and 135 total blocks. She helped her team to a 23-8 record and earned all-conference honors as a senior. She also lettered twice in track and earned academic all-state honors.
“Katie is a very dynamic athlete with a very good leaping ability,” Viney said. “She gets off the ground quick and seems to hang in the air. It will be a lot of fun to develop her athletic abilities into an explosive volleyball player.
“Katie will bring a lot of positive attributes to our team that include great work ethic, discipline and leadership. We feel very fortunate to add someone like Katie to our team.”
Foote joins the Tigers after playing high school volleyball at West Central High School. The 5-5 defensive specialist and Hartford, S.D., native had 43 service aces and 238 digs as a senior.
“Kaitlyn comes to us as a player that really has a deep passion to be a part of the DWU volleyball program,” Viney said. “Kaitlyn will look to add some depth to our defensive specialist position in the fall.”
Dakota Wesleyan went 7-27 overall and 2-13 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference in 2012. The Tigers lose just one player to graduation in May.