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The 2018 WWU volleyball recruiting class includes six players, all from the state of Washington. PHOTO: WWU Athletics

WWU Volleyball Announces Another Strong Recruiting Class for 2018

May 16, 2018 


BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Western Washington University head volleyball coach Diane Flick-Williams has announced the addition of six student-athletes that are set to join the program for the 2018 season.

The class is composed of one setter, one middle, three pin hitters and one defensive specialist/libero. All six players are from the Puget Sound area of Washington and will report to the Western campus in early August to start preparing for the 2018 season. 

This freshman class will be joining a program that won the 2017 Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship, has advanced to the NCAA Division II Championships in each of the last six seasons and has played for the West Region title in each of the last three seasons. WWU returns 11 letterwinners and 5 starters from last year’s squad, in addition to All-American middle blocker Kayleigh Harper returning to the court for her junior season.


“The incoming 2018 class is loaded with talent in every position. That is the easy, surface thing to say about them. However, what we were truly looking for in this class was a group that would affect the culture of our program as much as our seniors have,” said Flick-Williams, who will be entering her 19th season leading the WWU program in 2018. “They will be a group that will forage a path to take us to the next level, but will do it in a way that will honor and respect the values that are the cornerstone of WWU volleyball. Malia, Rylee, Calley, Tupu, Anna and Kasey are talented athletes, driven students and good people who can have a lot of fun getting things done. I’m beyond excited to have them join our program.”

MALIA ALEAGA Burien, WA (Kennedy Catholic)

Athletic 5-7 setter out of Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Wash….two-time team captain…as a senior in 2017 named to theTacoma News Tribune  All-Area Team (2nd team) and was an honorable mention All-State pick by the coaches association…three-time First Team NPSL Cascade Conference…helped lead Kennedy to 3A state championship as a sophomore in 2015…high school coach was former WWU volleyball player Liz (Bishop) Quitiquit…father, Ink, played football at the University of Washington and in the NFL (New Orleans Saints) and CFL (BC Lions).


Quotable from Coach Flick-Williams:

“Malia has great hands and really good feel for the game which is essential in the setting position. I really like the choices she makes late in the matches, and how she works with her hitters. There are three categories we evaluate setters on: technique, tactics and leadership. Malia has the whole package.  Her endorsement from her high school coach, Liz Quitiquit (WWU Hall of Famer) spoke volumes, and she has shown every bit of why she deserved such high praise.”


RYLEE BORN Gig Harbor, WA (Bellarmine Prep)

An athletic 5-11 player that will make the switch from middle hitter in high school to pin hitter at Western…was a 2017 4A South Puget Sound League All-League selection (2nd team)…two-time team captain at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, Wash….played club volleyball for Puget Sound Volleyball Academy…helped lead Bellarmine to the state tournament during junior and senior seasons…in junior and senior seasons averaged 2.5 kills and 0.8 blocks per set, including 3.2 kills per set during her senior season.

Quotable from Coach Flick-Williams:

“I’m really looking forward to the transformation Rylee is going to make from the middle to the pin. She is quick off the floor with a good arm, and her outdoor experience gives her a great foundation in ball handling. Rylee’s competitive spirit was very impressive to us as she was ready to jump on this challenge with both feet. Her ceiling is so high and I’m excited to see how high she can take it.”


CALLEY HEILBORN Auburn, WA (Auburn Riverside High School)

Four-year letterwinner at Auburn Riverside and two-time team captain…also played four years of varsity tennis and was a three-time team captain…helped lead Auburn Riverside to four consecutive volleyball league titles and was a three-time state champion (2014, 2016-17)…played club volleyball for Puget Sound Volleyball Academy…named the 2017 Seattle Times Player of the Year and was the Gatorade State Player of the Year…2016 and 2017 Tacoma News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year…2017 All-State Player of the Year…during senior season was named the 4A State Tournament MVP, tallying 27 kills and 18 digs in the championship match (also state tournament MVP as a junior)…recorded 516 kills her junior season (.280 hitting pct.) and 484 kills as a senior (.301)…four-time all-league selection, including three first-team selections.

Quotable from Coach Flick-Williams:

“Calley is a very special player who comes in with the full package: 6 rotation player, great student, and even better teammate.  Her blend of competitive drive to be better individually is well balanced with her joy for her teammates when they succeed. The best asset someone can bring is the ability to make those around them better, and Calley is the epitome of that statement. The accolade of the Gatorade Player of the Year not only speaks volumes of her personal ability, but also her effect on teammates.” 


TUPU LOLOGO Federal Way, WA (Federal Way High School)

Versatile player that can fill a variety of roles for the Vikings…was a two-time First Team North Puget Sound League Olympic All-League selection…standout career at Federal Way High School where she was coached by former WWU player Donja Walker…named honorable mention All-State as a senior in 2017… All-State honorable mention..


Quotable from Coach Flick-Williams:

“Talk about smooth as butter! Tupu is as natural at this game as anyone I have seen. She can do anything with a volleyball except bring it to life. Tupu can do it all with a tough serve, steady serve receive, controlled defense and hands of gold. She makes the game look easy because she reads so well and understands the angles involved. Her quiet leadership brings a steady calm, but also an intensity that speaks volumes. I’m really excited to see her grow even more.”


ANNA MARACICH Auburn, WA (Auburn Riverside High School)

The lone middle in the 2018 signing class that hails out of Auburn’s Riverside High School…teammate of Calley Heilborn in High School and club…helped Auburn Riverside to back-to-back titles as a junior and senior…2017 Tacoma News Tribune Second Team All-Area…First Team NPSL Olympic Conference junior and senior year…2017 honorable mention All-State…also played tennis during prep career, placing 9th at state as a junior.

Quotable from Coach Flick-Williams:

“Anna has been coming to our camps for years, and has always made an impression on us. Even though we weren’t sure if we needed a middle in this class, what we did know is we needed Anna!  Beyond her terrific skill set as a middle, she is the embodiment of the team chemistry that is essential for our program’s success. I’m looking forward to seeing her growth in this environment as she continues the legacy of WWU middles.”


KASEY WOODRUFF University Place, WA (Curtis High School)

Athletic defensive specialist that can do it all on the court…four-year letterwinner at Curtis High School in University Place, Wash.…two-time Tacoma News Tribune First Team All-Area at the libero position (2016-17)…also a two-time First Team 4A South Puget Sound League selection…named First Team 4A All-State and First Team All-State as a senior...helped lead Curtis to 4A state championship during sophomore season in 2015…also a four-year starter at second base in softball during prep career…product of Puget Sound Volleyball Academy.

Quotable from Coach Flick-Williams:

“We were told to keep an eye out for Kasey since she was a U12 player, and I am beyond excited to finally have her as a Viking! Everything we look for in a libero is contained in Kasey. Most people see the serving, passing and defense, but the little things that Kasey does is what puts her over the top. She is a great communicator, she’s another set of eyes for her hitters, she leads her serve receive, she’s got ice water in her veins in the toughest of situations. The long line of great WWU liberos is in very good hands with Kasey.”


The incoming class of the six players was the result of the hard work of WWU’s coaching staff, including 18-year assistant coach James Suh and former Viking defensive specialist Bryce Larson.  

“First and foremost, I think my staff does an excellent job in the vetting process of recruiting. We look for players with like values and who can buy into the growth process that comes with this program. They have to be open to growth, have a diligent work ethic, and a risky side that allows them to try, fail, and try again,” said Flick-Williams. “With that mindset, their ability level is truly limitless. With this particular incoming class, we are fortunate to not only have people who approach training that way, but also come with a lot of talent as well.

While these players are just joining the program, Flick-Williams is looking forward seeing them step into Carver Gym for the first time and for each to leave their stamp on the program.

“My wish is for this class to put everything they have into their experience to see where they take us,” said Flick-Williams. “I want them to leave no stone unturned, leave no lesson unlearned, and leave it all on the court so when they leave here, they will have left a legacy that is all their own.”

The Vikings are coming off another strong season in 2016, going 23-8 and advancing to the NCAA II West Regional Championship for the second consecutive season. WWU finished the season ranked No. 14 in the nation in the AVCA Division II, the fourth-highest in program history trailing only the 2007 season (#2), 2015 (#6) and 2003 (#9). WWU has advanced to the NCAA Championships each of the last five seasons, compiling a 118-29 (.803) record during that span. 


-- @WWUVolleyball --

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