Pulliza adds five to 2010 roster

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas volleyball head coach Robert Pulliza has announced the addition of five players for the 2010 season. Adding to the youth base of the Razorback team, all five players will enter the program as a freshman. The 2010 Razorback volleyball class includes Alexandra Fitzmorris, Hayley Koop, Clarissa Pavey, Raymariely Santos and Charmaine Whitmore."I’m very excited about this second recruiting class as we continue to make Arkansas one of the elite programs in the country," Pulliza said. "This group is going to add size, athleticism and a lot of volleyball experience to an already exciting core."Fitzmorris is a 6-3 middle blocker/right side from Overland Park, Kan. As a junior and senior at Blue Valley West High School, Fitzmorris helped lead the Jaguars to Kansas 6A state runner-up finishes. Her team also claimed sub-state championships in 2008 and 2009. A two-year letterwinner, Fitzmorris led her team in hitting percentage as a senior, en route to being named Most Improved."Fitzmorris is going to give us the much needed size that we need to compete at the highest level," Pulliza said. "We think she’s going to develop into a very physical presence at the net and we’re looking forward to her joining us in January to begin training to get ready for next fall."

Fitzmorris played club for Team KC and in 2008, her club team captured the regional championship and advanced to the national tournament. In the classroom, Fitzmorris is a three-time (2007-09) East Kansas League Scholar-Athlete.A standout outside hitter from Spring, Texas, Koop was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) 2009-10 Under Armour Girls High School All-America Watch List. Prior to her senior season, she was named to the 2009 preseason All-Greater Houston team by the Houston Chronicle. Koop led the Houston area with 5.20 kills per game and was fourth with 4.43 digs per game. She was also a member of the Lonestar Volleyball All-Texas team and was named a PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace.

"Koop is an athlete that has been playing the game for a long time and she’s going to add the volleyball experience and athleticism that we need to keep moving forward," Pulliza said. "She has great work ethic and is going to be an immediate asset in the gym."

A starter for Klein High School since her sophomore season, Koop was twice named the Most Valuable Hitter of her district (2007, 2009) and earned district MVP as a junior. She also earned first-team all-district honors twice. The Bearkats captured the district title in 2007.

Koop has been a member of the Texas Tornados top team since the 12’s level. Her club team won two bronze medals (2006, 2007) in the National division of the Junior Olympics. Those same teams were also recognized as Lonestar Region high performance teams. Koop helped lead the Texas Tornados to a 17th-place and fifth-place finish in the Open division of the Junior Olympics as a sophomore and junior, respectively.

Santos brings international experience to the Razorback volleyball as a past captain of the Youth and Junior National Teams for Puerto Rico. In 2008, Santos’ Youth National Team participated in the NORCECA youth event in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. The Junior National Team went on to capture a second-place finish at the Peru Invitational. The 5-10 setter has also been named an AAU and USA Volleyball Junior Olympics All-American.

Currently, Santos is a member of the Puerto Rico National Team which played at the Grand Prix in Brazil, Japan and Thailand and the NORCECA Championships. Santos helped the team earn a silver medal at the NORCECA event, the first-ever medal for the nation at the tournament.

"Anytime you can add a player that has played at the highest level of volleyball in the world in a Grand Prix, it’s very exciting," Pulliza said. "Santos might be the only athlete to ever join a college team as a freshman that has also played at a Grand Prix. She will bring great athleticism and volleyball savvy to our team."

Pavey was one of two liberos from Texas to be named to PrepVolleyball.com Senior Aces. Her prep career includes two Defensive MVP awards, three all-district honors and a second-team all-state selection. Pavey helped lead Trinity Christian Academy to the TAPPS 5A state title in 2007; the Trojans were TAPPS 6A runner-up in 2006.

"You can never have enough good passing and good defense and Pavey will be a big part of us moving forward in that department," Pulliza said. "She has tremendous energy and work ethic that will be contagious in the training environment."

Her club team, Texas Advantage, has three top-20 performances in the last three years in the Open division at the Junior Olympics, including a fifth-place finish in 2007.

Whitmore, a 6-1 middle blocker out of Fort Smith, Ark., helped pace Northside High School to an appearance in the state tournament as a junior. She captured 7A West all-conference honors in the final two seasons of her prep career, where she posted a personal-best 31 kills in a single match for the Grizzlies.

"Charmaine is one of the best pure athletes I have ever recruited," Pulliza said. "A testament to that is her ability to dunk a basketball which we know not many can do. Once her volleyball catches up to her athleticism, there’s no doubt she can be one of the best players in the SEC and in the country."

A tremendous athlete, Whitmore was also a four-year member of the Northside basketball and track and field teams. She was the 7A state champion in the high jump in 2008, and followed with a runner-up finish in the event as a junior.

This is the second recruiting class for Pulliza and his staff. Pulliza’s first signee group, which includes SEC Freshman of the Week (Sept. 7) Amanda Anderson and six-time SEC Freshman of the Week Jasmine Norton, was ranked in the top 45 by PrepVolleyball.com. For more information, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.