The Oklahoma volleyball program announced the signing of four standout athletes to national letters of intent during the early signing period. The class features three elite prep athletes and one junior college transfer. The class comes one year after OU’s 2003 class earned the highest ranking in program history with a No. 22 national rank and No. 4 rank within the Big 12.
Leading the way among the prep athletes is Julie Chester, a 5-10 setter from Katy, Texas. Chester plays club ball for the Texas Tornadoes who finished fifth at the 2003 Junior Nationals. During last year’s nationals Chester was named an All-American, a honor that was given to only two club setters in the nation. She was ranked as the second best setter and seventh best athlete to sign with a Big 12 school by PrepVolleyball.com. Nationally, PrepVolleyball.com ranked her at No. 79 among the top 250 prep volleyball players in the country. Chester averaged 9.8 assists per game and 0.9 kills per game as a senior for Cinco Ranch High School.
Joining Chester as an athlete recognized by PrepVolleyball.com is Anna Stadel of Osage City, Kansas. Stadel was among the top 250 prospects rated by the online service. Stadel currently plays for KC Power with four other athletes who have committed to Division I programs. Stadel averaged 4.5 kills per game, while also recording 93 solo blocks and 41 block assists at middle blocker during her senior season at Osage City High School. Stadel is also an accomplished track athlete who has reached the Kansas state finals in the discus, 100-meter and 200-meter dash.
The final prepster to enter the Sooner fold is Katy Reiger of Edgar, Neb. Reiger is an imposing attacker who stands 6-6 and will be the tallest female athlete to in OU history. Reiger has received numerous state, county and conference honors during her four years at Sandy Creek High School. She collected 324 kills, while averaging 14.1 put-aways per match during her senior campaign. The multi-talented athlete has also earned four varsity letters in basketball and track and field. Reiger will play for the South Central 17’s Red during the upcoming travel club season.
The final addition to the Sooner program is Gabriela Tonon, a native of Brazil who has spent the last two years in the junior college ranks. Tonon, who played under Ronda Shirley at Hutchinson College during the 2003 season, has a vast level of playing experience. The 6-3 left-handed outside hitter will likely slide into the rotation on the left side with Big 12 Freshman of the Year Finalist Joanna Schmitt. Tonon led the Lady Dragons to a No. 16 ranking in the final NJCAA national poll.
“Gabriela is an extremely intelligent player,” said Hutchinson head coach Ronda Shirley. “She is the type of player who will only get better as the competition increases. She taught our players so much here and was playing on another level at many points. I have no doubt she’ll have great success in the Big 12 and with the University of Oklahoma.”
OU, which lost three seniors in 2003, returns 10 players in 2004 and will be led by seniors Keri Coats and Stephanie Tengram.
OU 2003 recruiting class, composed of Coats, Joanna Schmitt, Laura Tomes, Anna Monsen and Kelli Albers, received national acclaim from Volleyball Magazine, which annually ranks the incoming class and the Fab-50 high school athletes.
Below are extended bios on each of the student-athletes:
Cinco Ranch High School (Katy, Texas)
One of the most accomplished prep setters in the country ... Rated as the seventh best high school prospect to sign with a Big 12 school by PrepVolleyball.com ... The second best setter to commit to a Big 12 school according to PrepVolleyball.com ... Ranked No. 79 among national high school prospects by PrepVolleyball.com ... Named to all-tournament team at 2003 USA Junior National Championships ... Led Texas Tornadoes to fifth place finish at 2003 Junior Nationals ... Tornadoes won 2003 Lonestar Qualifier and 2003 Tampa Bay Qualifier ... Plays on Tornadoes with middle blocker Ellen Orchard, who is the No. 45 high school prospect (PrepVolleyball.com) in the country and has committed to Cal-Berkeley ... Team captain of Tornadoes and Cinco Ranch High School team ... Coached by Tammie Laurence at Cinco Ranch High School ... Averaged 9.2 assists per game and 0.9 kills per game as senior ... Collected 1,000 assists, 14 solo blocks, 22 block assists and 112 digs as senior ... Named district MVP, as well as Pearland All-Tournament Team and Cy-Springs All-Tournament Team during senior year ... Named first team all-district in 2001 and 2002, team MVP as a sophomore (2001), best offensive player as a junior (2002) and Houston Chronicle Girl To Watch (2003) during her high school career ... Also played extensively as a right-side hitter ... Led Cinco Ranch to District 19-5A Championship from 2001-03... Cinco Ranch was undefeated in district during senior season and reached Region 3 semi-finals the last two seasons.
Born Feb. 18, 1986 ... Daughter of John and Gail Chester... Older sister, Jennifer (24), and younger brother Matthew (14) ... All-Academic during each of four high school years ... Interested in majoring in communications " Hometown newspapers are the Katy Times and Houston Chronicle.
6-1, Middle Blocker
Osage City High School (Osage City, Kansas)
Ranked as one of the top 250 high school prospects in the country by PrepVolleyball.com ... Plays club ball for KC Power ... Joined by four players on KC Power that have signed with Division I programs, including three others that have committed to Kansas State and Kansas ... Also played club ball with Topeka Juniors and finished as high as ninth at junior nationals ... Named first team all-area by Emporia Gazette ... A first team all-mideast league selection, as well as being team MVP and team captain as a senior ... Recorded 299 kills at a 4.5 per game clip as a senior ... Recorded a serving percentage of 91 percent and an attack percentage of 80 percent during final prep season ... Also recorded 93 solo blocks and 40 block assists during senior campaign ... Named to All-Mideast team three times, while also being named to second team all-area by Emporia Gazette ... Earned high school team honors for her hustle, blocking and attacking ... Also an accomplished track athlete ... Qualified for state finals in the discus, 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, as well as a number of relays during high school career ... Named rookie of the year on freshmen track squad ... Salutatorian of senior class ... Four year member of honor roll ... National Honor Society President ... Second in senior class with 4.0 GPA.
Born July 2, 1986 ... Daughter of Ken and Jean Stadel ... One older brother, Luke (19), who throws the discus and shot at Rice ... Father was a track and field All-American at Rice from 1972-1973 and still owns shot put and discus school records ... Father finished in the top-three at the 1978 World Track and Field Championships ... Mother played field hockey at San Jose State, while uncle played football for the Spartans ... Uncle rowed on crew team at Kansas State ... May throw for OU’s track and field team ... Interested in majoring in health and sports sciences ... Hometown newspaper is the Osage County Herald.
6-3, Outside Hitter
Hutchinson Community College
Colegio Padre Anchieta
Hutchinson Community College
Played for Rhonda Sherry at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas ... Earned all-tournament honors at Tyler (Iowa) Tournament and Hutchinson Invitational ... Transferred to Hutchsinson from Northeastern Oklahoma Junior College ... Played on left and right side, as well as at middle blocker and setter during college career ... All-region for NEO during freshman campaign.
Played at the Club Colegio Padre Anchieta, which is considered one of the top-10 clubs in Brazil, during her high school years ... Also played club ball for Bauru Atletico Clube and Sao Caetano Esporte Clube ... Was coached by Jose Roberto Guimaraes, who is current Brazilian Olympic coach.
Born Jan. 23, 1983 ... Daughter of Jose Renato and Ligia Favero ... Two brothers, Raphael (23), Leandro (22) ... Brother Leandro is playing professional basketball in Brazil.
6-6 Middle Hitter
Sandy Creek High School (Edgar, Neb.)
Three time All-State selection at Sandy Creek High School ... Three time all-county and all-conference selection ... Named team MVP and offensive MVP twice ... Averaged 14.1 kills per match and four aces per match during her senior season ... Totaled 324 kills during final high school season ... Played exclusively at middle blocker for Sandy Creek... Plays club ball for South Central 17’s Red who are coached by Ryan Copsey ... Imposing attacker stands 6-6 and will be the tallest female athlete in OU history ... Also earned four letters in basketball and track and field ... Earned all-county and all-conference honors as a thrower for the track and field team ... Named team MVP as a freshman on basketball squad.
Daughter of Michael and Cindy Reiger ... One older sister, Michelle (21) ... Born July 7, 1986 ... Hopes to major in radiology ... Hometown newspaper is the Clay County News.