Ashland University head volleyball coach Cass Dixon has announced the signings of four players in the class of 2017-18 – Hilliard Darby High School setter Kali Apelt, Butler High School outside hitter Zoie Franklin, Midland (Mich.) High School outside hitter Ellie Jensen and Orrville High School libero McKinley Smith.
"We are really excited about our incoming 2017 class," Dixon said. "I can't wait to have the opportunity to work with them on a daily basis and see how our team culture and dynamics evolve with their addition. They all work really hard and will add depth to our program.
"They definitely have some big shoes to fill with the departure of our seniors, but I believe they will welcome the challenge."
Apelt accumulated school career records for assists (2,048), service aces (116) and digs (809). She was the Ohio Cardinal Conference-Cardinal Player of the Year, first-team All-OCC and first-team All-District as a senior.
"Kali was our first 2017 commitment and has completely bought in since Day 1," said Dixon. "She has an easy-going personality combined with this fierce competitiveness that you never knew was there because she always has a smile on her face. She is a talented setter that will continue to develop as she learns our offense."
Franklin boasts school records for single-season kills (314) and career kills (978). She was the 2016 Greater Western Ohio Conference Player of the Year, and first-team All-GWOC three times.
"Zoie is a workhorse," Dixon said. "She has a great volleyball IQ, owed much in part to being a coach's daughter and having been around the game for a long time. Every time we saw her play throughout the club season, we became more and more impressed. I'm looking forward to having her drive in our gym."
Jensen had 1,278 career kills in her prep career, and was part of two district championship teams and one regional title team. She earned third-team All-Michigan honors as a junior, and two spots on the All-Saginaw Valley League first team.
"I'm really looking forward to working with Ellie," said Dixon. "She is a natural athlete. Having only made the switch to outside hitter two years ago, we will continue to develop her all-around skills. I think with more specific outside training, she will just continue to excel in every facet of the game."
Smith set new school standards for digs in a career, season and match. She was part of three regional runner-up squads and three Ohio Cardinal Conference title teams. Smith was first-team All-OCC in 2015.
"McKinley is from a local and very successful program," Dixon said. "She has been Orrville's starting libero and will compete at Ashland for the same position. She is super-athletic, which allows her to make some really great defensive plays, and will also provide us with solid serve receive."