By Megan Herboth
ORLANDO, Fla. - UCF Volleyball head coach Todd Dagenais announced the signing of four talented players to the Class of 2015. Jessica Nwabuko, Elyssa Purcell, Brooke Imirie and Jordan Pingel join UCF as the newest members of the Knights family.
"The 2015 recruiting class is extremely important to us," Dagenais said. "This class fills in some of the immediate needs that we have."
Jessica Nwabuko is one of three Texans to sign a national letter of intent with the Knights. A member of the two-time undefeated district champion Rockwall-Heath volleyball team in Rockwall, Texas, she was named MVP her junior season. She played under Matt Sipes at MadFrog Volleyball, one of the top junior volleyball clubs in Texas.
"Jessica is a very athletic, talented middle (blocker)," Dagenais said. "With two graduating middles, we really do need Jessica to be able to step in and play at the collegiate level sooner rather than later."
Elyssa Purcell is the second Texan in the UCF recruiting class. A highly decorated player out of Alvin High School in Webster, Texas, she was named District Setter of the Year and Under Armour All-America honorable mention. She played under Chien Lee on the Houston Stellar club volleyball team. She was a team captain on the 161 Coach GCVA team that placed first in the purple division of AAU nationals.
"In our mind, (Elyssa) is one of the top setters to come out of Texas this year," Dagenais said. "She's left-handed and athletic. She reminds me of a DeLaina Sarden, Kaye-Alese Green -type athleticism. She sets a really nice-tempo offense."
Brooke Imirie rounds out the Texan trio of signees. A right-side hitter from Austin, Texas, she was named Second Team All-District as a junior. Her Austin Juniors club team finished third in AAU competition. She earned Academic All-District honors and has been a member of the honor roll throughout her high school career.
"With the graduation of Loren Cory, Brooke is going to have some opportunities early on to show us that she can handle the swings," Dagenais said. "She's a great blocker. She's a nice athlete that's going to work really hard for us."
Jordan Pingel signed her national letter of intent and will enroll early to join the Knights in January. She is no stranger to volleyball, as her mother was a two-time MVP at Louisville and her father was an honorable mention All-American at Ball State University and is an administrator at USA Volleyball. A highly decorated player herself, Pingel was named to the Colorado All-State Team as a senior and was a USA Junior National training team member.
"Jordan Pingel is a highly decorated, highly skilled libero that comes to us from Colorado Springs," Dagenais said. "She comes from a volleyball family. She's had a lot of experience playing on the USA Youth and Junior National teams and playing international competition. She fills a need that we have with (Jade Hayes) graduating. Jordan's experience is something that we're going to need on the floor."
Miranda Watkins, a setter from Tallahassee, will also join the Knights as a preferred walk-on in January. She played on the same club volleyball team, the Tallahassee Juniors, as freshman Halle Scott and former Knight, Dani Harrison.
"We see (Miranda) as having a really nice up-side in the setting position," Dagenais said. "She's a great athlete. She has a high volleyball IQ and she has good touch on the ball."
Dagenais noted that he is still looking to add depth in several positions and there is the possibility that more athletes could be added to the roster next semester.