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Courtesy: Duke Athletics
Blue Devils Introduce 2018 Volleyball Recruiting Class
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 06/19/2018
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DURHAM, N.C. – Head coach Jolene Nagel and the Duke volleyball program are thrilled to welcome five student-athletes as part of the Blue Devils’ 2018 recruiting class. Alex Amos, Mackenzie Cole, Lily Cooper, Adeola Owokoniran and Alex Springate arrive in Durham soon to compete for the Blue Devils this coming season.

“Everyone here at Duke, including our current team and staff, is excited about the 2018 incoming recruiting class,” said Nagel. “We look for this class to help make our gym more competitive and to contribute to the positive, hard-working team culture our team has built. They are excellent students, working very hard to be prepared academically for the rigors of Duke University, and I have no doubt they will continue to excel while studying in Durham. All five of our incoming freshmen have tremendous potential as athletes and are quality people. We are thrilled that that they will be joining us in Durham soon.”

Amos, a 6-2 outside hitter from Pittsburgh, was a four-year WPIAL Class AAA All-Star Team and All-Section selection at Upper Saint Clair High School. A 2017 Under Armour All-American, Amos put down 427 kills and picked up 392 digs her senior season, her third straight campaign with 300-plus kills and 300-plus digs. She joins her older sister, rising junior Samantha Amos, on the Blue Devil roster in 2018.

“Alex is a long, solid outside hitter who helped lead her 18s club team to national success over the past few years,” Nagel said. “I am thrilled to get her competitiveness into our gym and she has the potential to develop into a very strong player for us. She already has an intimate insight into our expectations and commitment it takes to succeed here at Duke as her sister is already in our program, and I am very excited to finally have Alex in the gym as well.”

Cole, a 5-10 libero/outside hitter from Oakdale, N.Y., was named the 2017 New York Gatorade State Player of the Year in addition to earning Senior Ace distinction from PrepVolleyball. Cole competed with the USA Volleyball Youth National Training Team in July 2017, garnered All-America honors this past fall, led Connetquot High School to the 2017 state Class AA state championship and collected Newsday’s Long Island Player of the Year accolades to cap a tremendous high school career. A six-year varsity starter who earned Newsday’s All-Long Island first team honors four times, Cole had 333 kills, 292 digs and 74 aces for the undefeated Thunderbirds this past fall.

“Mackenzie is a gym rat and a coach’s kid and we are thrilled to have her bring those qualities to our gym,” Nagel added. “She is an elite level ball control player, but she is an also extremely versatile volleyball player with experience setting and attacking.  She leads with a calm, determined court personality that will keep our team confident in the toughest situations. Mackenzie is a great person and athlete and I look forward to working with her on a daily basis.”

Cooper, a 6-5 middle blocker from Wildwood, Missouri, helped Lafayette High School to two Class 4 state championships in a distinguished career culminating in MHSVCA First Team All-State, first team all-conference and first team all-district honors. A 2017 PrepVolleyball Senior Ace, Cooper was a force at the net for the Lancers, setting the school record with 245 career blocks. As a senior, she racked up 125 total blocks, including 35 solo stops while also averaging 2.14 kills per set. 

“Lily’s physical gifts, including her height and reach, are impossible to ignore, but it is really her heart and work ethic that will set her apart,” Nagel added. “She is eager to get in the gym and improve and soaks up coaching like a sponge. Lily comes from an elite high school and club program and I look forward to seeing that translate into our gym.”

Owokoniran, a 6-3 middle blocker/outside hitter from Raleigh, N.C., was the 2017 Northern Athletic Conference Player of the Year after totaling 421 kills on a .332 hitting percentage for Wakefield High School. An Under Armour All-American, Owokoniran totaled 400-plus kills and hit better than .300 each of her final two seasons, collecting all-conference, Raleigh Sports Club Athlete of the Week and MaxPreps Player of the Week honors during her standout career. Most recently, Owokoniran earned a spot on the USA volleyball junior national team, competing in Mexico this June.

“Ade breathes infectious positive energy on the volleyball court,” Nagel said. “She contains a natural charisma that lifts her teammates up when working with her. She is also an incredible athlete who will be an effective attacker from all three front row positions. Ade is a true joy and we could not be more thrilled to have her joining our program.”

Springate, a 5-9 setter from Austin, Texas, earned 6-6A All-District second team honors this past season after leading Allen High School to a second place district finish and overall 31-9 record. Springate totaled 309 assists to rank among the district leaders, while also accruing 126 digs, 38 kills and 29 service aces. The Academic All-State and Academic All-District selection also competed with the top-ranked TAV Black 18 squad, helping her club team win the Beast of the Southeast Qualifier. 

“Alex is a consummate high-achiever, having exceled academically and athletically throughout her career,” Nagel said. “She just helped her TAV team to a 3rd place finish at 18s nationals and that kind of ambition fits in our culture perfectly. I look forward to working with Alex and her strong competitiveness and leadership every day in our gym.”

In addition to the five newcomers, Duke returns nine letterwinners from this past season’s 19-12 (11-9 ACC) team, including ACC All-Freshman Team selections Payton Schwantz and Summer Brown.

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