Volleyball Announces Incoming Class

 Abigail Brinkman
 Brenna Buckwalter
 Cassidy Croci
 Victoria Forrest
 Elizabeth Kennerly
 Margaret Kenney
 Madison Lightfoot

DURHAM, N.H. – Head Coach Jill Hirschinger of the University of New Hampshire volleyball team announced that seven prospective student-athletes have joined the volleyball program for the 2012 season. Abigail Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio), Brenna Buckwalter (Evergreen, Colo.) Cassidy Croci (Sylvania, Ohio), Victoria Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.), Elizabeth Kennerly (Bell Canyon, Calif.), Margaret Kenney (Merrimack, N.H.) and Madison Lightfoot (Davisburg, Mich.) will all attend UNH in the fall.

"I'm very excited about this incoming class," said Hirschinger. "This is a highly skilled and competitive group with the perfect combination of experience and athleticism necessary to contribute to the winning tradition at UNH."

Brinkman, a 6-0 outside hitter, played for Head Coach Troy Haught at Brecksville Broadview Heights High School over the past four years. Brinkman is a two-time All-Conference selection, including first team honors as a senior. Brinkman, who was named first team All-District this past season, also helped her team qualify for the State Final Four in both her senior and freshman campaigns.

"Abby is an extremely versatile player with the ability to play anywhere across the front row," said Hirschinger. "With a strong work ethic and overall athleticism, we expect her to make an immediate impact to our program."

Brenna Buckwalter, a 5-10 middle blocker, played for Head Coach Katie Ryan at Evergreen Senior High School. She was named to both the Colorado High School Coaches Association and Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports All-State teams as a senior. Additionally, Buckwalter earned All-Conference First-Team honors as a junior.

"Brenna is an extremely quick and agile player, and with a 10-foot jump, she is also a natural athlete," said Hirschinger. "She comes from a disciplined club program, which along with her strong intensity should provide a talented skill set to our roster." 

Croci, a 6-0 middle hitter, played for Head Coach John Buck at St. Ursula Academy for the past four years. Croci enjoyed an impressive senior campaign as she was named to the 2011 OHSVCA Division I All-Ohio First Team and was also selected as both the District 7 and Three Rivers Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Last season, Croci helped her team win the Division I Ohio State Championships, as well as District 7 and Toledo City Athletic League titles, and was named First Team All-League for her efforts. Additionally, Croci earned Second Team All-League honors as a sophomore and honorable mention accolades as a freshman.

"Cassidy comes from one of the best high school programs in the country," said Hirschinger. "Cassidy's competitiveness and natural intensity will add a strong presence to the lineup next fall. With great skills and intangibles, we expect her to contribute immediately."

Forrest, a 6-0 outside hitter/defensive specialist, played for Head Coach James Auld at North Cobb High School. A two-time 5-A All-Area Player of the Year, Forrest set school records for single-season kills, career kills and single-season serve receive percentage. She also broke into the top-10 in the state in both single-season kills and career kills. An All-America candidate, Forrest helped her team reach the state sweet 16 for just the second time in program history. She was also selected to the All-Region Team and was named an honorable mention to the All-State team.

"Tori is a steady player and has been the rock of her teams throughout her career," said Hirschinger. "With great ball control and high volleyball intelligence, Tori brings with her a wealth of experience from one of the top high school teams in Georgia."

Kennerly, a 5-11 outside/right hitter, played for Head Coach Brock Redmond at Agoura High School. Kennerly, who transferred from Medina High School in Ohio after her sophomore year, earned the All-Tournament Award at Agoura during her junior campaign. She also excelled in the classroom as she earned academic awards in all four years between both schools.

"Elizabeth is a dedicated and hardworking athlete with the versatility to play as the left or right side hitter," said Hirschinger. "Elizabeth comes from one of the most competitive areas of the country and we look for her to continue that successful nature at UNH.

Kenney, a 5-9 outside hitter, played for Head Coach Tammy Lambrou at Merrimack High School and capped off her Tomahawk career with an impressive senior season. Kenney, who earned All-State First Team honors, was named the New Hampshire Volleyball Coaches Association and Union Leader Player of the Year and the team MVP this past fall. Also the runner-up for the Gatorade Player of the Year, Kenney was selected to the Nashua Telegraph First Team. The team tri-captain and 2012 New Hampshire Scholar Athlete award-winner was named to the honor roll all four years.

"Maggie was one of the best players in the state of New Hampshire last season and we are excited to bring her to UNH next fall," said Hirschinger. "A model all-around player, Maggie will bring in a competitive, hardworking and aggressive attitude to the program this season."

Lightfoot, a 5-4 defensive specialist, played for Head Coach Kelly Avenall at Clarkston High School. She helped her team capture the league championship all four years, district championship the last two years and the regional title this past season. Lightfoot, who was named a state honorable mention, was select to the All-Region First Team as a senior. 

"Maddie has great skills and a good touch on the ball, which is a technique so important to her position," said Hirschinger. "She is both athletic and intense, while her natural leadership makes her a strong addition to the program."

Brinkman, Buckwalter, Croci, Forrest, Kennerly, Kenney and Lightfoot will join the rest of the 2012 Wildcats in the season opener on August 24 at the Villanova Classic.

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