Feb. 4, 2013
MILWAUKEE – Head coach Bond Shymansky and the Marquette University women’s volleyball team have announced the addition of Nicki Barnes and Lauren Houg for the 2013 campaign. The pair of defensive specialists will have four years of eligibility remaining when they arrive on campus in the summer of 2013.
"We have been working hard during the past four years to establish a strong culture of winning,” Shymansky said. “Adding players like Lauren and Nicki will ensure that we keep that culture thriving. We have a tremendous back row group in our program right now that can help teach and challenge Nicki and Lauren. But eventually, we expect them to step up and become the new back row leaders."
Barnes was part of a Benet Academy (Lisle, Ill.) squad that captured back-to-back Illinois 4A titles in 2011 and 2012, becoming the first repeat champions in the state’s largest class since 1994-95. The 5-foot-10 Barnes played outside hitter for the Redwings and helped Benet to a 40-2 record as a senior and a No. 13 national ranking according to PrepVolleyball.com – first in Illinois. Barnes played with the 1st Alliance Volleyball Club during her prep career.
"Nicki's all-around ball control skills make her a great asset,” Shymansky said. “She understands the scope of the whole game and will become a great back row player for our team. Seeing pictures of her hoisting the state title trophy this past year solidified my opinion that Nicki is a championship-caliber volleyball player.”
Houg joins the Golden Eagles from Wayzata High School (Wayzata, Minn.) as a first team AAA all-state selection by the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association in 2012. The 5-foot-7 libero averaged 7.7 digs per set (607 total) as a senior and 5.6 as a junior (481) to lead the Trojans. Houg helped Wayzata to a sectional semifinal appearance and a 21-9 record in 2012 and a 20-10 mark as a junior. The Minnesota native set a career match high with 53 digs in a four-set loss to Eden Prairie on Oct. 16, 2012 and competed with Northern Lights Junior Volleyball on the club circuit.
"Lauren has been a top-notch libero for years, and earned her recognition this year in the state of Minnesota through hard work and dedication. We will need her experience, steady nature and ball control gifts to keep our program nationally elite," Shymansky said.
Marquette’s current defensive specialist rotation includes a trio of seniors-to-be in Catherine Mayer, Rachel Stier and libero Julie Jeziorowski and a pair of underclassmen in Ellie Rauch and Jalyn Smith – a sophomore and freshman, respectively, in 2012.
Barnes and Houg join outside hitter Autumn Bailey and middle hitters Rachel Vidourek and Teal Schnurr as freshmen in 2013.