HAMDEN, Conn. - Quinnipiac University Volleyball Head Coach Robin Sparks has announced that five incoming student-athletes will join her team in 2011. Freshmen Tierra Allen (Sumter, S.C./Wellesley, Mass.), Krista Bennett (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Tanner Celestin (Norco, Calif.) and Brittanie Robinson (Fresno, Calif.) will join junior college transfer Samantha Jablonski (Center Moriches, N.Y.) in comprising the Bobcats' class of newcomers.
"I am excited to be adding a solid recruiting class to our program for next Fall," said Sparks. "Not only do we have five great athletes joining us, but they are five terrific students as well. I expect them to mesh well with our returners and give us depth that we have lacked in the past."
Allen spent her first three years of high school in South Carolina at Crestwood High School, before transferring to Wellesley High in Wellesley, Mass. She was a four-time league all-star and a two-time all-area selection between the two schools. She was named the region's player of the year as a junior at Crestwood, before earning Bay State Conference First Team recognition as a senior at Wellesley. She also earned Boston Globe Bay State All-Star honors in her final high school season. Allen averaged 10 kills, 10 service points and three assists per match. She also played club volleyball for the Smash! Club Team, contributing four kills and six service points per game. Allen is the daughter of Boston Celtics star Ray Allen.
"Tierra is one of the most powerful athletes I saw last season," said Sparks. "She has a fantastic jump serve and hits the ball with authority. Once she adjusts to the pace of the collegiate game, she is going to be a terrific contributor."
Bennett earned two varsity letters at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz. As a senior, she led her team with 205 digs. She earned all-state honorable mention as a senior, in addition to all-region, team MVP, and 2010 Falcon Classic Team recognition. She served as team captain as a senior. Bennett was also her team's MVP in earning all-region honors as a junior, and earned the 2008 Catalyst Award. Bennett led her team to fifth place finishes in the state in 2009 and 2010, earned second place gold at the Falcon Classic and seventh place at the Goldwater Tournament. Bennett also played club volleyball for the Club Red 18 Mizuno, Arizona Storm 17-Thunder and Arizona Juniors 16-1's.
"I am excited to be adding another terrific defender to our program," said Sparks. "Krista is quick, smart, and defensively explosive. Because of her athleticism, she also hit outside on her club team last season. She will be a great addition in the gym."
Celestin earned all-league second team and varsity all-academic team honors as a senior. She recorded 103 kills, 20 service aces, 43 blocks, 73 digs and hit .303 as a senior, leading her team to a fourth-place finish in the Big 8 League. She also was named vice president of the California Scholarship Federation and treasurer of the Advanced Palcement Government and Politics Club as a senior. She was publicity commissioner for the Associated Student Body and a student representative for the Parent Teacher Student Association as a senior. She served as vice president of the Parent Teacher Student Association as a junior. She was a four-year member of the Principal's Honor Roll and earned the Principal's Outstanding Academic Award as a sophomore. She also played club volleyball for the Mavericks 18's, Top Gun 18's, Mavericks 16's and Ripcurls 15's. She served as team captain of the Mavericks 18's.
"Tanner has experience at both the outside and right side," said Sparks. "She is a natural blocker and has a terrific serve. She is also a great student and leader, serving in a variety of leadership positions in high school. With her drive and desire, I expect Tanner to push the team every day."
Jablonski comes to Quinnipiac after two years at Suffolk Community College, where she earned All-American nominations in both years. She was a scholar athlete in 2011 and also earned the Chancellor's Scholar Athlete Award in her second year. She earned all-region both years, while being named to the all-tournament team as a sophomore. She averaged 3.02 kills, 1.42 digs, 0.59 aces and .49 blocks per set in her second year. She received the Outstanding Citation in both years as well as being named to the Dean's List in both years. She received the Outstanding Student Leader Award in 2011 and the Academic Excellence and Spirit Honors in 2011. Prior to her time at Suffolk, Jablonski played four years of high school volleyball at Center Moriches High School. She served as team captain for three years and was named Team MVP. She earned player of the year in 2008 and was a two-time all-conference and all-tournament selection, in addition to earning All-State honors, being named to the New York State Class C First Team. She also played club volleyball for the Long Island Blaze, earning Team MVP as captain of the team.
"Hitting well over .400 the past two years, Samantha comes to Quinnipiac with maturity and confidence on the outside," said Sparks. "She is also a great leader and student, receiving the Outstanding Student Leader award from her college last year. She is driven and passionate about the game and knows how to win."
Robinson was her team's captain and MVP in her junior and senior seasons at Edison High School. She was named to the first-team all-area by the Fresno Bee and earned First Team County/Metro Athletic Conference (CMAC) in her final two seasons, taking League MVP as a senior. In 2010, she earned Second Team Max-Preps All-State (DII). A versatile contributor, Robinson was a middle blocker and outside hitter in her first three years of high school before serving as her team's setter as a senior. She compiled 678 kills, a .508 hitting percentage, 3.1 kills per game, 519 digs, 138 blocks and 87 aces in her first three years, before piling up 688 assists (9.8 assists per set), 169 digs, 41 blocks, 43 aces and 69 kills from the setter position as a senior. She led Edison to the co-league championship as a senior, in addition to the Sunnyside High School Tournament Championship and Edison's first-ever Central Section California Interscholastic Federation (Valley) Championship. Robinson also led Edison to the CMAC League Championship as a freshman. Robinson played for several club volleyball teams, including the Fresno Volleyball Club, Central Cal Volleyball Club and Sports City Volleyball Club. She led her team to first place at the Far-Westerns in 2006, as well as the Gold Medal at the Junior Olympics in Atlanta, Ga.
"Brittanie brings us a lot of versatility," said Sparks. "Not only was she an outstanding middle when she was younger, but she transitioned to setter for her high school team last season, before being a primary passer and outside hitter in club. Her steadiness and experience are invaluable, and I expect her to compete for a starting position this season."