Plenty of Illinois sports had a number of recruits ink letters of intent on Nov. 14.
Even with National Signing Day taking place three weeks ago, we'll take a look each Wednesday leading up to Christmas at some of the recruits other Illini teams were able to sign. Last week we profiled Matt Bollant's first women's basketball recruiting class.
Next up: volleyball.
Kevin Hambly didn't waste any time.
Within the first five seconds after he stepped to the podium on the eighth floor of Memorial Stadium to discuss the three volleyball recruits Illinois signed, he already set a precedent for what he expects out of his future players.
"I wouldn't be surprised if two of these kids ended up being All-Americans, potentially first-team All-Americans," the Illinois volleyball head coach said. "They're athletic, they're long, and they're going to add tremendous depth."
Hambly said the Illini, which a year after playing in the NCAA championship match failed to make the NCAA Tournament and finished with a 14-16 record, still might add to the Class of 2013 that already includes Michelle Strizak, a 6-foot-1-inch outside hitter from Mount Notre Dame (Ohio) High School in Cincinnati, Katie Stadick, a 6-3 middle blocker from Watertown Unified (Wis.) High School in Watertown, Wis., and Katie Roustio, a 6-2 outside hitter/right-side hitter from O'Fallon (Ill.) High School.
"We have a couple other kids we're looking at to fill other spots," Hambly said, "but I think this class could potentially be five players."
Both Stadick and Roustio verbally committed to Illinois after their freshman seasons in high school, and Hambly said the recruiting ramifications of the 2011 team finishing second in the nation will be felt with the Classes of 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Stadick compiled 1,864 kills in her prep career to go along with 584 digs, 495 blocks, 80 assists and 91 aces, with 644 of those kills coming during her senior year.
"She's extremely long armed, a really good jumper (and) very, very explosive," Hambly said of Stadick, who he envisions competing with freshman middle blocker Maddie Mayers for a spot in the starting lineup next fall. "I think she's got a great chance (to start). She had a tremendous high school year and was doing everything for her team."
Strizak finished her high school career with 1,288 kills, 882 digs, 165 blocks, 161 aces and 26 assists. She averaged nearly five kills a match during her final three seasons at Mount Notre Dame.
"She has played every position in her career," Hambly said. "The first time I saw her she was playing middle blocker. (She is) a very, very good athlete and very long. She can do a lot for us. She's going to be our backup setter for the future and also potentially be starting left side or starting right side."
Roustio ended her stellar four-year career at O'Fallon with 1,468 kills, 1,232 digs, 210 aces and 220 blocks.
"She is a big, physical outside (hitter)," Hambly said, "and fits the mold of outside hitters that we've had over the last several years."
Hambly said Strizak will arrive on campus in May for summer school and to start working out with the squad, with Roustio and Stadick arriving in August.
"Stadick is going to graduate and go work on her grandpa's buffalo ranch and get country strong, as she said it," Hambly said with a laugh. "She's going to work out and play with her club team, but she's a really cool kid. This will add a ton of depth as we move forward."