AMES, Iowa – Iowa State volleyball announced five additions to its program for the 2019 season during the November National Letter of Intent signing period, head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch announced Thursday. ISU will welcome defensive specialist/libero Jaiden Centeno from Omaha, Nebraska, outside hitter Annie Hatch from Mesa, Arizona, middle blocker Kenzie Mantz from Belle Plaine, Iowa, outside hitter Michal Schuler from Oregon, Illinois and defensive specialist/libero Kate Shannon from Waterloo, Iowa.
This is a big class for us, and coming in right behind our great class of 2018, I am excited about the core group of players we will have for the next several years,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Our goal was to add a few great offensive players, hitters with powerful arms that can terminate and to also add depth to our libero and defensive specialist positions. Our recruiting coordinator Jen Malcom did a tremendous job accomplishing both those goals.”
Jaiden Centeno: DS/L, Omaha, Nebraska
One of the most sought after liberos in the Class of 2019, Centeno comes to Iowa State after helping lead Millard West to four-straight Nebraska State Volleyball Tournaments. Centeno’s senior season for the Wildcats saw her finish with 623 digs at 6.62 per set. A three-time All-State honoree, Centeno was a PrepVolleyball Top 150 Senior Ace who played her club volleyball for Premier Volleyball Club, and was named to the All-Tournament Team for the 15 National Division at the 2016 USA Girls’ Junior National Championships.
“Jaiden is a natural, she makes passing and defense look effortless,” Johnson-Lynch noted. “She is very smooth on the court and has a great combination of athleticism and experience playing that position. She’s got the perfect demeanor for libero – she’s confident, talkative, energetic, but steady and under control.”
Annie Hatch: OH, Mesa, Arizona
The highest rated recruit in the class for the Cyclones, No. 65 in the Class of 2019 by PrepVolleyball, Hatch comes to Ames from Mesa High School in Mesa Arizona. A 2018 AVCA/Under Armour Third Team All-American, Hatch led the Jackrabbits to the Arizona State Tournament, amassing 742 kills during her senior season and 2,163 for her high school career. A three-time team captain in high school, Hatch played her club ball for Alliance Volleyball Club where she has advanced to nationals each of the past three seasons.
“Annie is a complete player,” Johnson-Lynch stated. “She’s got an awesome serve, is a great passer, and can terminate on the outside.” It’s hard to find six-rotation players like Annie who can play the whole game and do it at a high level. I see Annie as a glue type player, she can do it all, she’s very consistent and a very hard worker.”
Kenzie Mantz: MB, Belle Plaine, Iowa
Mantz joins the Cyclones as following a successful prep career at Belle Plaine High School, where she just wrapped up as successful four-year career which saw her earn team MVP honors all four of her seasons. An AVCA/Under Armour Honorable Mention All-American, Mantz averaged 5.06 kills per set as a senior at .406 hitting and 3.51 digs per set. A multi-sport star, Mantz is a three-time letterwinner in both basketball and track and field, the latter of which saw her earn a silver medal in the shuttle hurdle relay last year.
“Kenzie has a big, powerful arm swing. We wanted to find a middle that could be an exceptional slide hitter and Kenzie is great at that play. She’s use to getting set a lot and having to carry a heavy load offensively. I always like bringing in players that are comfortable being a go-to hitter for their team.”
Michal Schuler: OH, Oregon, Illinois
Schuler had a unique path to joining the Cyclones. Schuler played high school volleyball for Faith Christian School, whom she led to a 38-3 record during her senior campaign which included a Northern Illinois Christian Conference championship and runner-up finish at the National Christian Schools Athletic Association Championships while she amassed 735 kills. She is a three-time team MVP and three-time Illinois Christian Conference Player of the Year. Schuler played club volleyball for No Limits Volleyball Club, whom she led to third at her age division at the 2018 AAU Girls’ Junior National Championships, earning All-Star Team honors.
“Michal is such an awesome story and pleasant surprise for us, a very late commitment for her class,” Johnson-Lynch noted. “She could probably play any position in college, she’s not that tall but is extremely explosive and plays high above the net. She’s got a great arm and like Annie, is a great six-rotation type player.”
Kate Shannon: DS/L, Waterloo, Iowa
Shannon finished out an outstanding career at Waterloo Columbus, helping lead her squad to three state tournament appearances and earning conference player of the year honors her senior season. She played both libero and setter for the Sailors in her final season, recording 356 digs, 177 assists and 80 service aces in 2018. Shannon was a multi-sport star at Columbus, also earning All-State honors in soccer and softball. She continues a line of Cyclones coming to Ames through the Six Pack Volleyball Club, where current Cyclone Jenna Brandt also played club.
“Kate is a smooth, natural passer and defender,” Johnson-Lynch stated. “She’s very athletic, strong, quick and a multi-sport athlete. She’s got a great platform and a great sense of the game. I love her consistency and potential. She and Jaiden will make the libero position incredibly competitive in the years to come.”