Nov. 28, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - During the recent early signing period two scholastic players signed National Letters of Intent to join the volleyball team next fall, as announced by Wildcats head coach Josh Steinbach earlier today. Middle blocker Michaela Berendt (Olympia, Wash.) and outside hitter Claire Crutchfield (Falls Church, Va.) form the beginning of Steinbach's recruiting class for the coming year.
"Michaela and Claire are both talented enough to compete for us right away," Steinbach said. "We are going to feel an immediate impact from having them in our program. They will increase the physicality of our team and beyond volleyball they are an excellent fit for the Villanova community. I am equally excited to have them be a part of the entire University as I am for them to join the volleyball team."
Berendt is a physical middle blocker who will give the Wildcats a great deal of energy on the court. She is a two-time first team All-Narrows League player for Olympia High School and has been a state champion during her high school career. Berendt holds five school records and earned All-State honors from the Seattle Times as a senior this season. She has also played club volleyball for KJVBC and the Olympia Volleyball Club.
"Michaela is extremely long and is a very vertical over-the-net kind of player. She moves very well for her size and has outstanding potential. Her enthusiasm as a volleyball player sets her apart."
Crutchfield hits the ball hard from her outside hitter position and will give an immediate boost to the Villanova offense. She earned Under Armour All-America honors as a senior this season and was also the WCAC league Player of the Year and a first team VISAA All-State selection for the third straight year. Crutchfield has been a four-time All-WCAC pick and a three-time All-Metro selection by the Washington Post. She holds her school's career and single-season records for kills with totals of 1,326 and 560, respectively. Crutchfield has also played for the Virginia Elite Volleyball Club since 2008.
"Claire's calling card is how hard she hits the ball," Steinbach said. "She has a big arm and really tags the ball. We are excited to have someone who can generate points for us just by getting big swings. Claire is also incredibly competitive. She will be one of the most competitive players we have had on the court as soon as she walks into the gym."