May 24, 2007
Milena Bukinac, Alyssa Davis, Liz Crouch, Nicki Gerig, Briana Johnson and Lauren Mellor have each signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball at Auburn University in 2007, head coach Laura Farina announced on Thursday.
"The staff and the team are really excited about this incoming freshman class," Farina said. "It gives us much needed depth in every position on the floor."
Bukinac, a native of Veternik, Serbia, was the team captain for Novi Sad, one of the top juniors teams in Serbia. Known as a solid hitter and passer, the 5-11 Bukinac helped lead her team to a junior international tournament last year in Italy and will play her natural position of outside hitter at Auburn.
"Milena is an all around volleyball player," Farina said. "Her competitive volleyball experience is going to be an incredible strength to our team."
Davis joins Auburn from Oakland Park, Fla., where she was a three-year letterwinner at Northeast High School. Davis led the Hurricanes in both blocks (158) and kills (286) in 2006 and holds school records in career blocks (369), total blocks in a season (158) and average blocks per game (6.08) in a season. A 6-4 middle blocker, Davis was selected to the Broward County Athletic Association's Senior All-Star Game.
"We have watched Alyssa develop over the past two years," Farina said. "I am excited about having her in the gym, getting her strong in the weight room and being a part of her overall collegiate development. She can have a very bright future in the sport."
Crouch comes to the Plains from Sacred Heart High School in New Orleans, La. One of the top defenders in Louisiana, Crouch played middle blocker for her state champion high school team at just 5'6". She managed 436 digs and has a strong ability to pass and dig a ball into system. Crouch also played libero for her club team, Cajunland.
"Her court demeanor, her approach to competition and her overall attitude fit the libero position perfectly," Farina said.
Gerig, a setter from Normal Community High School in Normal, Ill., was named all-conference and all-area in 2006, while also earning second team all-state honors in 2005. Gerig plays club volleyball for the Illini Elite, where she earned AAU All-American status and was named to the USA Nationals All-Tournament Team in 2006. She was nominated for the Illinois Heisman Scholar-Athlete Award and was recently named her school's valedictorian.
"Nicki is a winner," Farina said. "She demands a lot out of herself and expects a lot of herself. Her technical training from the Illini Elite Volleyball Club and Sports Performance Volleyball Club is excellent. I do not think that I have ever had a freshman want to learn so much about our training and our system as Nicki has wanted to learn. I know that she is working hard to earn the starting setting role for this team."
Johnson joins the Tigers from Atlanta, Ga., and Lakeside High School. At Lakeside, she won the Hitter's Award in 2005 and 2006 and was a two-time honorable mention in DeKalb County. Johnson, a 6-0 middle blocker, led her high school team in kills and blocks for three years and holds the school single-season record for blocks and kills. In addition to her volleyball success, the two year-letterwminner in basketball, was selected as a National Achievement Semifinalist and named on the "Who's Who Among American High School Students". Johnson is also a member of the A5 Volleyball Club.
"Briana is an incredible athlete," Farina said. "She has all of the physical tools to excel."
Mellor, a native of Colfax, Wa., starred for Colfax High School. The middle blocker was named first team all-region in 2004 and 2006, Northeast Region MVP in 2005 and MVP of the 1A state tournament in 2005 and 2006. A member of the Spokane Splash Volleyball Club, Mellor was also outstanding on the basketball court and on the track. She was a member of the four-time state champion basketball team, where she was a two-time all-region and second team all-state award winner. On the track, she was the 2006 100-meter hurdle regional champion.
"Lauren can play anywhere in the front row," Farina said. "Her club team qualified for USA Junior Nationals in the open division which will have her competing against the very best in the nation this July. We did not know if we could attract her to Auburn from the State of Washington. She had several offers and I am glad she chose us."