Ladies Volleyball Welcomes 10 New Faces for 2008-09 Season
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Centenary women’s volleyball head coach Dan Gwitt has announced that Brianne Anders, Taylor Gilmour, Christina Golden, Stevie Hurlbirt, Jennifer Kunze, Jaclyn Lopez, Kinsey Mims, Caitlin Neese, Melissa Reed, and Kayla Tibaldo will be members of the Ladies volleyball squad in the upcoming 2008-2009 season.


“Since my official hire on November 19, 2007, I have been on a mission searching the country to find the best available players that will make an immediate impact at Centenary,” said Gwitt. “As of today, I believe that mission has been nearly accomplished by bringing in ten new student-athletes. I have put together a core group of girls that are really going to push each other and compete to find themselves on the court right away. They all have a unique opportunity to come in and make an impact from the get go. This program is headed in the right direction and I look for each and every one of the 14 players on our roster to contribute.  


Anders is a 5’ 10” setter and outside hitter from Longview, Texas. She is a first team all-district and first team all-state player. She played club volleyball for six years and was named captain of her high school volleyball team for both her junior and senior years.  She has played on the varsity team for four straight years and was named MVP for each of those years. Along with being a standout on the court, Anders has excelled in the classroom and will be receiving an academic scholarship from Centenary.


“Brianne has the ability to play several different positions for us.  I look for her to find her natural position and develop into a solid collegiate player,” said Gwitt of his new recruit. 


Gilmour is a 5’7” libero from Stuart, Florida.  She played three years of varsity volleyball at Martin County High School in Stuart, Florida, serving as co-captain for both the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Her team competed successfully in the state tournament all three years, earning District Runner-up and Regional Quarter-finalist in both '05 and '06 and District Champion and Regional Semi-finalist in '07.  


In 2006, Gilmour earned the pre-season Spanish River H.S. Jamboree MVP. In the post-season, she received all-area honors from the Palm Beach Post and led the area in digs. 


In 2007, Gilmour not only led her team in service aces at 60, but she also broke the school record for most service points in a match at 24.  She also ranks third all-time in career digs. She is an AP Scholar, Class Vice President, an officer for the National Honor Society as well as for the Student Government Association, and was nominated for a Women of Distinction award in the Rising Star category by the Soroptimist Club of Stuart.


Gilmour played seven years of club volleyball under the direction of Mike Sawtelle, Dre Sloan, and Janaina Miranda. She's been captain of her teams the last three years and has been a starter in multiple positions such as setter, left and right side hitter, defensive specialist, and libero. 


Taylor has a knack for being around the ball.  She is a solid passer and plays tough defense,” said Gwitt. “I expect her to make a quick transition at the collegiate level and be in the fight for a starting spot.” 


Golden is a 5’11” outside hitter from Moss Point, Mississippi. She played four years of volleyball at East Central High School where she helped the Lady Hornets to the playoffs in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Her teams were district champions in 2005 and 2006. 


Christy is a four-year letterman, a three-year MVP, and a three-year all-district selection.  She played three years of club volleyball, including 2006 and 2007 with Mobile Storm and 2008 with West Florida Volleyball Club.


“Christy is one of those players who has yet to come close to her full potential.  I really look for her to make giant strides in her play and find herself competing for a starting spot,” said Gwitt.  


Hurlbirt is a 5’11” outside hitter from Centennial, Colorado. She lettered all four years in high school, leading her team to both a district and regional championship her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She currently plays for Front Range VBC, which is one of the most prestigious high school travel clubs in the nation.   


“Stevie is a very talented player that has been playing at a high level for a long time,” said Gwitt. “She fell off the radar her senior season after blowing out her knee, but has rehabbed back and will be a great find for our program. I look for Stevie to continue her recovery over the summer and come into camp ready to compete for a starting spot.” 


Kunze is a 5’11” outside hitter from Lago Vista, Texas. She attended Lago Vista High School all four years. She also played on the volleyball program’s varsity team. She was honored with several awards this past season. She was named to the all-district 19-AA Academic Volleyball Team for the fourth year in a row, earned TSWA Class 2A all-state volleyball honors, was District 16-AA MVP, and was a Texas Girls Coaches Class 2A All-State Volleyball Team member.


Kunze also plays for TCA Volleyball Club out of Austin, Texas. During her years at Lago Vista High School, she has set records for kills and service aces on the court, and off the court is graduating in the top ten percent of her class. Doing more than playing volleyball, she participates on the Lago Vista varsity golf team and is a member of the National Honor Society, Leo Club, and Student Council.


“Jenny is a great all around volleyball player. She really sees the block well and hits a solid deep ball into the court. I look for Jenny to improve her overall strength and develop into a solid collegiate player,” said Gwitt. 


Lopez is a 5’11” outside hitter and setter from Mission, Texas. She lettered in four sports: volleyball, basketball, softball, and golf. She received all-district and all-valley honors in each sport since her freshman year. 


In 2005, Lopez received honors by becoming a Texas Sports Writers All-State second team member for volleyball. In 2006, she was named Rio Grande Valley MVP. In 2007, she was also named Rio Grande Valley Outstanding Hitter. Lopez set many records in hits, digs, and service aces. In the classroom, she is a member of the National Honor Society.


“Jaclyn is a phenomenal athlete that could be developed into a setter or outside hitter,” said Gwitt. “I really look for her to make the transition from high school to the collegiate game and find her place on the court.”


Mims is a 6’ 1” middle blocker from Santa Fe, Texas. She played four years of varsity at Santa Fe High School where she helped the Indians go to the playoffs during all four seasons. She was the Newcomer of the Year her freshmen year and was first team all-district and all-county each of her four years. She was named co-MVP of her team her junior and senior year. Mims received all-state all-academic both her junior and senior years and is a member of the National Honor Society. In addition, she was a two time all-state basketball player.


“Kinsey is an athletic middle that will make a quick transition to the college game,” said Gwitt. “I expect her to push the other middles on our roster and make an impact right away.” 


Neese is a 5’ 10” setter from Grapevine, Texas. She was named all-district, Academic All-State, and awarded the Team MVP as well as the Heart and Hustle Award in 2007. She has also been named team captain of her high school team from 2004 through 2007.  She is a member of the National Honor Society and has also earned an academic scholarship from Centenary.


“Caitlin is a great young adult, who is passionate about volleyball and has the ability to really develop into a good collegiate setter. I look for Caitlin to push herself this summer and be ready to come in and fight for a starting spot,” said Gwitt.        


Reed is a 5’11” outside hitter from Pomona, Kansas. She was a four-year varsity starter for West Franklin High School in volleyball and basketball. She was named team captain in volleyball and basketball, along with being named an Ottawa Herald All-Area volleyball and basketball player for three years. Reed was also named all-league two years volleyball and basketball, academic all-league three years, and led her high school team to the state volleyball tournament this year.


In Reed’s senior year, she was second in kills for the state of Kansas with 489 and set a school record in passing efficiency by finishing 12th in the state of Kansas. She has played club ball for nine years and is a member of the National Honor Society.


“Melissa is a lefty with a very quick natural arm swing,” said Gwitt. “I really look for her to develop into a better all-around player and work herself onto the court.”


Tibaldo is a 5’5” libero from Santa Fe, Texas. She finished her junior year as a second team all-district and honorable mention all-county selection, and received the team Fighting Heart Award. Her senior year she received Santa Fe All-Tournament Team, first team all-district, honorable mention all-county, the Fighting Heart Award, and led the Houston area in assists per game. Tibaldo is also a member of the National Honor Society and received Volleyball All-Academic All-District 2006-2007 and Volleyball All-Academic All-State 2007.


“Kayla is another athletic kid on our roster. She has primarily played at the setter position throughout her high school career, but we expect her to make the transition to libero and be an excellent bail out option in the back row,” said Gwitt. 


The ten new players join early signee Erika Lunsford, a 6’5” middle blocker from Richland High School in North Richland Hills, Texas. Also returning from last year’s team will be senior Ashlee Freeman, who ranks in Centenary’s top ten lists both on offense and in blocking categories.