Nov. 15, 2012
MADISON, Wis. – Three athletes, including the nation’s No. 1 recruit, have signed National Letters of Intent to play volleyball at the University of Wisconsin beginning in 2013, head coach Pete Waite announced today.
The Badgers signed the top recruit in Lauren Carlini, a 6-2 setter/ hitter from Aurora, Ill. Waite also inked Tori Blake, a 6-3 middle blocker from Midland, Mich.; and Haleigh Nelson, a 6-3 middle blocker from Cary, N.C.
“We are really excited to be announcing our class of 2013,” said Waite. “They fill a variety of needs for us and they have some impressive resumes. We’re looking forward to having them on campus with us and playing for the Badgers. I know that this group is going to do some amazing things during their careers.
“All three players have great attitudes and strong grades. I think they’re a perfect fit for our program and we’re looking forward to having them with us.”
Carlini was ranked as the No. 1 recruit nationally by PrepVolleyball.com. She was recently named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Under Armour All-America first team. Carlini was a member of the USA Youth National Team in 2010 and 2011, competing in the 2011 Girls’ Youth World Championship in Turkey. She was also named the most valuable player of the 2011 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships.
She has earned four AAU All-America awards, leading her Sports Performance club team, under directors and coaches Rick and Cheryl Butler, to numerous top-10 finishes.
“Lauren is an impressive player who has the skills to make a major impact on our program,” said Waite. “She’s a phenomenal setter who can raise the level of those around her. She has the size and jump to be an excellent player at the net, and her defensive skills are as good as any.”
Carlini played her high school volleyball at West Aurora High School for head coach Kari Nicolson. She was named the 2012 Chicago Sun Times Player of the Year and is the first player to be named the captain of the Daily Herald all-area team three times. Carlini is a four-time unanimous all-conference pick and led her team to the 2012 Dupage Valley Conference title in 2012.
She was named to all-state teams by the Chicago Tribune and Champaign News-Gazette. Carlini was named an ESPN Player on the Rise and Max Preps Player of the Week in 2011-12.
Blake will graduate from high school early in December and join the Badgers for the 2013 spring semester. She was ranked 89th nationally by PrepVolleyball.com after playing at Midland High School and Michigan Volleyball Academy. Blake is a top-10 finalist for Miss Michigan Volleyball and earned AVCA Under Armour All-America honorable mention honors. Blake’s club team earned two top-20 national finishes for coach Jesse Ortiz.
As a junior, Blake set school records for block solos, block assists and total blocks and was named a third-team all-state selection. She was a two-time all-conference and all-region selection for head coach Tim Zurell as well as a member of the Midland Daily News Dream Team. Blake aided the Chemics to three conference championships with the team winning the regional title in 2012.
She is also an outstanding track athlete, finishing second in the high jump at the state championship as a junior. Blake is a member of the National Honor Society and is a three-year member of the honor roll.
“Tori’s athleticism is what caught our eyes,” said Waite. “She has fast feet, long arms and a good jump. As a middle blocker she’s quick side to side and gets up well on the block. Her potential as a player has only begun to be tapped and we expect that she’ll become a strong college player.”
Nelson joins Carlini on the AVCA Under Armour All-America first team. She recently guided Cardinal Gibbons High School to its fourth-straight 3A state championship, earning most valuable player honors as a senior. Nelson was named the 2012 Carolina 6 Conference Player of the Year for head coach Logan Barber. She was a three-time all-conference selection.
Nelson also plays with Triangle Volleyball Club under coach Mike Schall. She was named the 2011 winner of the Triangle Award for leaderships. She was named a top-10 star at the 2012 Lone Star Classic and earned all-tournament honors at the Carolina Region championship.
An excellent student, Nelson has a 4.25 grade point average and is a member of the National Honor Society.
“Haleigh first caught our eyes at nationals in the summer of 2012,” said Waite. “We immediately saw a player with good size and range who moved well along the net. The more we looked into her, the more we liked her strong high school background, her enthusiasm and her determination.