EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE volleyball Head Coach Kendall Paulus announced her first official signing class Monday with the addition of Hannah Bagley (Superior, Colorado), Savannah Christian (Washington, Missouri), Grace Hurst (McCordsville, Indiana) and Ellen LeMasters (Greenwood, Indiana) to next season's roster.
"We couldn't be more thrilled to announce and welcome this class to our program and the Cougar family," said Paulus.
Paulus, who was named the permanent head coach last week, led the Cougars to 23 wins this season, a single-season record for a first-year head coach at SIUE.
This signing class aims to address the six SIUE seniors on the 2017 team.
"The 2018 class is extremely well-rounded and very competitive," said Paulus. "All have trained at a high level with elite coaches so we anticipate they will learn and adapt to our system quickly. We keep catching ourselves calling each of them great teammates, and we can't reiterate that enough. They bring very unique personalities and leadership qualities."
Bagley, a 6-foot outside hitter, received honorable mention All-State honors last season at Boulder High School. She is a two-time All-Conference and All-Region performer. Bagley also was earned votes last season for Conference Player of the Year.
"Hannah is a six-rotation pin attacker with the ability to hit on either pin," said Paulus. "She is intense and very competitive which we are so excited about. She is super fast and explosive offensively. She reads the court well and has a very high volleyball IQ in both the front and back row."
Her club volleyball experiences include a fifth-place finish at the Girls Junior National Championships with The Diff VBC. Her teams also placed second at the Las Vegas Presidents Day Classic and at the Big South. Bagley also played club volleyball for Juggernaut and TCA.
Bagley, who expects to major in accounting at SIUE, is the daughter for Ray and Judy Bagley.
Christian is a 6-5 middle blocker who helped Washington to a 25-4-1 record this past season. She posted one of the best blocking seasons in the St. Louis area with 1.31 blocker per set.
"Savannah is relatively new to high level volleyball and seeing her growth in that a short amount of time was incredible," said Paulus. "She is such a hard worker and is very aggressive. She brings great depth in the middle position and could compete on the right side. To say she has a high ceiling is an understatement."
Christian has earned two All-District and two All-Conference honors while helping Washington to three conference titles. She also has been named to the Gateway Athletic Conference All-Academic team three times.
Her club volleyball experience includes the Rockwood Thunder since 2016 and TC Select.
Christian, who plans to be a social work major at SIUE, is the daughter of Sunshine Hommes.
Hurst is a 5-4 defensive specialist who set the school record for single-season digs with 686 (6.5 per set) at Mt. Vernon High School.
"Grace is a fun athlete to watch," said Paulus. "She is such a great teammate and always wants what is best for her team. She is extremely competitive and her intensity never waivers. She is athletic and fast. Her speed and coachability will add great depth to our libero group."
A first team All-Conference and All-District performer, Hurst participated in the postseason All-Star game for Indiana South.
She currently plays club volleyball for Team Indiana. While playing for Vision, she helped her team place in the top 25 at the national AAU tournament.
Hurst, who expects to major in education, is the daughter for Charles and Jennifer Hurst.
LeMasters, a 5-11 outside hitter, set the career kills record at Center Grove High School with 1,236. An All-State and Academic All-State performer her senior season, LeMasters also has been named All-Conference and All-County twice.
"Ellen is a six-rotation pin hitter with a heavy arm," said Paulus. "She's a super steady player both in demeanor and play. She lifts off the ground effortlessly so we are very excited for both her block and attack reach above the net. Ellen brings a lot to the table both offensively and defensively."
LeMasters led Center Grove to the regional finals twice and a 31-6 record her senior season.
A member of Team Indiana VBC, she helped her squad to a 13th place finish nationally while earning AAU Academic Al-American status.
The daughter of Ron and Jill LeMasters, she plans to pursue a pre-medicine major.
"We are adding individuals with great court knowledge, athleticism and most importantly, a group of really good people," said Paulus. "Each one knows what it means to work hard and all want to be challenged."