BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb received four official commitments in the early signing period, officially welcoming its first four members of the 2017 recruiting class after the signing of Joy Rhodes, Alex Roycraft, Abbey Sprinkle, and Katie Stanton.
Joy Rhodes, a 6-3 outside hitter from Wake Forest, N.C., joins Gardner-Webb from Franklin Academy, where she has been an All-Conference performer each year. Last season, she led her conference with 210 kills and a .240 hitting percentage. She is also a member of the NC Elite Volleyball and Triangle Volleyball Clubs, earning AAU Academic All-American honors. Rhodes will enroll at Gardner-Webb in January and will practice with the team throughout the spring semester.
"I am delighted that we were able to find Joy late in the recruiting cycle last spring," stated Gardner-Webb Head Coach Leo Sayles. "Joy is a person of high integrity, and displays maturity on and off the floor. Her skills have developed quickly this last year as an outside hitter. She is capable of playing six rotations for us – and with spring training, will be prepared to challenge for playing opportunities early in our 2017 season. She is dedicated, a hard worker, and a competitor. We look forward to seeing her develop as a Gardner-Webb player."
Alex Roycraft, a 6-2 middle blocker from Boca Raton, Fla, joins GWU from West Boca High School, where she led her team to two district championships, earning All-County honors following her junior season. Roycraft also plays for the Tribe Volleyball Club, leading that program to the Junior Olympics for three consecutive years.
"My staff and I are excited to add Alex to our 2017 roster," said Sayles. "Alex was a late surprise this spring. Her network with former GWU students helped us connect with her, and we were impressed with her play when she attended camp this summer. Alex is a great competitor with surprising explosiveness and a great work ethic. She is also a person of high character, and will represent GWU Volleyball well. We expect her to make an immediate impact with our middle core, and will help elevate our game as we continue to climb the ladder of success."
Abbey Sprinkle, a 5-9 setter from Boiling Springs, S.C., comes to GWU from Boiling Springs High School, where she set a school record of over 2000 assists for her career, earning All-Region honors each of the past three seasons. Sprinkle also plays for the Upwards Volleyball Club in Spartanburg, S.C.
"Abbey is a perfect fit for our program and for Gardner-Webb," said Sayles. "Her faith is central to all that she does. She is a very athletic setter, with quick lateral movement, solid jump numbers, and great hands. She has proven herself as a team leader and as a solid teammate. She will challenge immediately for playing time with her work ethic and drive."
Katie Stanton, a 6-0 outside hitter from Newnan, Ga., comes to Gardner-Webb from Northgate High School, where she tallied nearly 700 kills for her career with a hitting percentage of .321, while leading her squad to the state's Final Four her freshman year and the Elite 8 the past two seasons. Stanton has also been part of the Tsunami Volleyball Club team.
"We are very pleased to add Katie to the volleyball program," stated Sayles. Katie is a versatile athlete with a great work ethic and a live arm. I saw a lot of potential in her during spring recruiting, and she impressed us at camp, not just as a hitter, but also as a person.