FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Nanooks volleyball team picked up what it hopes are three key ingredients to the team’s future success during the NCAA early signing period.
Outgoing coach Phil Shoemaker and assistant Mallory Larranaga announced Friday night the signings of middle blocker/outside hitter Cassidy Brewer, middle blocker/right side Lilah Hudson and hitter/defensive specialist Tessa Butterfield to National Letters of Intent.
“I definitely feel this group brings an infusion of physical talent we really need to move forward,” said Shoemaker, who will be leaving the Nanooks in early December after leading the team for the past 13 seasons.
“The last couple years we’ve had issues with height and certainly Lilah and Cassidy are going to help us in that regard besides the fact that they’re really exciting athletes,” Shoemaker said. “Tessa is a superb athlete and we realize that Ally’s (Oddy) shoes are big ones to fill and the importance of the libero position. We’re excited for Tessa and what she’ll be able to contribute.”
Brewer and Hudson will come into Fairbanks as freshmen, while Butterfield is a junior college transfer.
“All three of them are people of good character, which has been a trend of Alaska volleyball,” Larranaga said. “They’re great students as well and we’re very happy to have them. We think they will make a completion for our team.”
Brewer is 6-foot-1 and a four-year letter winner at Eastmont High School in East Wenatchee, Wash.
She was a first team All-Big 9 Conference for Class 3A outside hitters as a junior and was tabbed as an honorable mention honoree in 4A as a senior.
The past two seasons, Brewer was team captain for the Wildcats and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player following the 2011 year. Her single-best outing in high school came during her junior year when she compiled nearly 30 kills against Sunnyside.
Brewer was a scholar athlete the past three seasons and plans to major in business marketing.
“She’s a powerful offensive hitter as well as a blocker,” Larranaga said.
Hudson, 6-3, is a four-year letter winner at Kennedy Catholic School in Seattle. She was a second team All-Seamount League member as a senior, while being named honorable mention as a junior. Hudson received the Skyhigh Block Award in 2010-11 by the Cascade U-17 coaching staff.
“The thing that impresses me most about Lilah is her blocking tendencies,” Larranaga said. “She has an extremely powerful block. She has a nice reach being 6-3 and is an offensive player that will help us in the middle and on the right side.”
Hudson intends to major in wildlife biology.
Butterfield, 5-7, is transferring from San Diego City College where she played for two seasons. She is a two-time first team All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference selection and was an all-tournament team choice as a sophomore. She was the team’s captain both seasons and was named Most Valuable Player this past season.
Butterfield led the PCAC with 3.60 kills per set and was third in conference play with a .311 hitting percentage. She also ranked fourth in league play with 3.91 digs per set. She tallied 187 kills and 159 digs this season.
“She’s a complete athlete with solid movements and obviously she has big shoes to fill,” Larranaga said. “It was nice to have her up on the visit and to meet Ally and understand the role she’s going to play. We’re thankful for her leadership position and hard-working competitive attitude. She’ll take us to the next step we need to be defensively.”
Butterfield intends to major in criminal justice.