Flames men's volleyball refueling for promising future
May 23, 2018 | Lynchburg, Va.
Stacking Division I and II lineups already loaded with returning talent, Liberty University men's volleyball Head Coach Bryan Rigg has big plans for the Flames in 2018-19.
After announcing the addition of one setter and four outside hitters in February, Rigg has finalized his incoming Class of 2022 with five more highly touted recruits, including a couple who turned down NCAA Division I scholarship offers.
"This is by far the biggest and most talented recruiting class in the history of our program, with the most potential," Rigg said. "I have been really impressed with them. All these freshmen coming in are great quality guys with excellent character."
Four of the five newest recruits—outside hitter James Morton, middle hitter Luke Santini, opposite hitter Cody Reinsma, and setter Tommy Speelman — stand 6 feet, 5 inches tall, addressing one shortfall on this past season's squad.
"Adding a little bit of height, our one glaring weakness is going to turn into a strength," Rigg said.
With 10 recruits in the incoming class, complementing a strong core of returning players led by senior setter Kaden Knepper, middle hitter Gene Dejesus, and outside hitter Brady Quakenbush, depth is another issue the Flames shouldn't have to deal with for the foreseeable future.
Morton's athleticism helped him set a single-season school kills record as a senior captain, lifting Cosby High School it to its first Class 6A state championship on Nov. 17 in Richmond. He spiked 24 kills and contributed 11 digs and five blocks in the final to earn first-team all-state honors.
"I've only been playing volleyball for about two seasons but have come to truly love the sport," he said. "I'm extremely competitive and like to help elevate my teammates. I look forward to playing with a great group of Christian athletes and helping the team reach new heights. I hope to not only grow as a player, but in my relationship with Christ."
Reinsma is another athletic second-year player Rigg said flew under the recruiting radar after playing for Ultimate 18 Gold, one of the premier boys' volleyball clubs in the country based in Indiana.
"They won a national championship three years ago and he was the starting opposite hitter on a team that has eight other guys going to play at NCAA Division I teams," Rigg said. "He is a really good find."
Santini, who has more experience playing beach volleyball in Florida, can also touch up to 11 feet as a middle blocker. Rigg believes he will make the transition to the collegiate hardcourt game quickly.
"I catch on to new things very quickly," said Santini, who plans to study pre-med. "I am a long player who can jump high and swing hard. I have a killer's mentality and am super competitive. I will definitely try to make our practices as intense and game-like as possible."
Speelman, who earned first-team all-state honors as a senior setter at Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Va., passed on offers to play tennis in college to join the Flames.
"Having played and excelled in other sports in high school it has given me the ability to learn new skills and techniques quicker and easier," said Speelman, who plans to study criminal justice.
The fifth recruit is Caleb Reisinger, a l6-2 outside hitter from Cumberland Valley (Pa.) High School.