Tuesday, January 21, 2014

OU Volleyball Welcomes Three Newcomers

University of Oklahoma volleyball coach Santiago Restrepo has announced the signing of Marion Hazelwood and Harley Kelly to National Letters of Intent. Joining the incoming freshmen is Kimmy Gardiner, a transfer from Mississippi State.

Gardiner and Hazelwood, an early high school graduate, have both enrolled at OU for the spring 2014 semester.

“The bottom line is that we need to develop the front row and the back row consistently so we can move higher in the rankings and give us better play,” started Restrepo. “I think that’s what we’ve done with this class.”

Kimmy Gardiner | OH | 6-1 | Grapevine, Texas | Mississippi State/Heritage/Dallas Skyline

A 6’1 outside hitter, Gardiner is coming off a successful rookie campaign at MSU where she earned AVCA All-Region First Team and All-America Honorable Mention. She was also an All-SEC Freshman Team member and was twice named the league’s Freshman of the Week. Gardiner led the Bulldogs with 4.03 kills per set, while hitting .244 to go with a 2.49 digs per set average.

“Kimmy has a very high volleyball IQ,” continued Restrepo. “She is very knowledgeable about the game and where to put the ball, how to use the block and what kind of shot you need at the time. She makes very good decisions and sees the block very well.”

Prior to her season in Starkville, Gardiner played six seasons of club volleyball with Dallas Skyline Juniors under Kirk Perry, alongside fellow Sooner Micaela Spann. She helped Skyline to a 6th place finish at 18U Nationals and won three qualifiers. A member of the National Honor Society at Colleyville Heritage High School, Gardiner played three years of varsity volleyball for Jamie Detruck. There, she was a two-time captain and 2012 District 6-5A MVP as well as a Prep Volleyball All-American.

Marion Hazelwood | MB | 6-3 | Beach City, Texas | Barbers Hill/Houston Stellar

Hazelwood is a 6’3 middle blocker from Beach City, Texas. She played at the club level for Houston Stellar and scholastically at Barbers High School where she lettered three times under John Leonard. The Sooner coaching staff sees her as a quick, lateral, physical player in the front row. Hazelwood is a strong blocker and will have the advantage to gain reps with the team during spring practices and build chemistry with the OU setters heading into her freshman season.

“Marion is a very dynamic, versatile player with good physicality and can jump off the ground pretty high. She’s a 6’3 middle that will give us some valuable time in the middle next year. She will also be a great addition to our program with potential to be one of our best players.”

A National Honor Society member in high school, Hazelwood helped her team to multiple top finishes, including first place at the 2012 Santa Fe Tournament and the regional finals in the same year. She earned All-District honors as a junior and senior and was named the District MVP as well as Offensive Player of the Year in 2013. Hazelwood’s three older sisters have all played collegiate volleyball at Trinity (TX) University.

Harley Kelly | OH | 6-2 | Friendswood, Texas | Friendswood/Houston Stellar

Kelly, a 6’2 outside hitter, comes to Norman from Friendswood, Texas where she starred at Friendswood High School as well as Houston Stellar. She is a physical player on the pins with ability to swing high and hard. Over her high school and club careers, Kelly played a lot of high-level volleyball and has proven to be a valuable player on the front and back rows. She is expected to add depth to the Oklahoma rotation and fight for a position immediately.

“What I saw from Harley, that I don’t see from very many players, is the ability to be a very good front and back row player, as far as passing is concerned. She is a six-rotation player that is going to contribute and help us tremendously because she has played all the way around and has done it all.”

At Friendswood, Kelly led her team to a District Championship as well as a spot in the state semifinals, while taking home District MVP honors. She was a three-time All-District selection and twice named All-State under head coach Kelly Beck. Kelly was also named to the VYPE All-Houston Team. At the club level, she earned a spot on the Prep Volleyball Top 150 special recognition in both her junior and senior season.
///SoonerSports PR
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