SEATTLE – As if the current season weren’t exciting enough, the Husky volleyball team continues to build a bright future with the addition this week of three of the top high school seniors in the nation. Crissy Jones, Tia Scambray, and Courtney Schwan all signed their National Letters of Intent to join the Washington program in the fall of 2014.
Schwan is a native of Milton, Wash. and just led Bellarmine Prep to a second straight Washington 4A state title over the weekend, in the process earning tournament MVP honors. Jones and Scambray are from Southern California, Jones from Los Alamitos and Scambray from DanaPoint. Both play for the Tstreet Volleyball Club that current Huskies Cassie Strickland and Bailey Tanner competed for.
All three recruits are ranked in the top-20 of the 2013 Senior Aces list produced each year by PrepVolleyball.com. The three all play the outside hitter position, with Jones having spent a lot of time as a middle blocker as well.
“I like everything about this group,” said Head Coach Jim McLaughlin. “They’ve got good athletic ability, that’s clear, everybody sees that. But what I learned was they all have a very high level of determination. All three are very competitive. They want to become great and play at the highest level, and most importantly they’ve just got great character.
“They come from good values and they have very good intangibles that their parents got in place early with them,” McLaughlin said. “School is important to them, and they know how to make a commitment. I can’t wait to get in the gym and start working with them.”
Scambray is a 6-foot-tall outside hitter who has already earned extensive experience with the U.S. Youth National Team. Scambray was part of the 12-woman roster that won silver at the FIVB Girls U18 World Championships this past August in Thailand, becoming the first U.S. volleyball team of either gender to win a world championship medal at the youth or junior level. She also competed on the U.S. Team at the U23 World Championships as one of just a handful of high school players teaming with several former college All-Americans at the tournament in Mexico this October. That team was coached by U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly.
Scambray attacks in a match at the 2013 FIVB U18 World Championships.
Ranked No. 9 overall in the Senior Aces list, Scambray was also a 2013 Volleyball Magazine Underclassman to Watch, a 2013 MaxPreps Preseason All-American, and the 2012 South Coast League MVP. Scambray says she chose to become a Husky because, “the University of Washington has amazing volleyball and educational programs, but truly Coach Jim was the reason I made my decision to be a Dawg. I can't wait for the next four years.”
“Tia at this point in her career has a lot of good repetition, a lot of good experiences,” said McLaughlin. “She’s a quick, dynamic athlete. She’s got fire and is very highly competitive. But I think she has good balance; I think she knows when to turn it on and when to turn it off. I’ve seen her take some very critical swings for her team and find a way to be successful. I think she’ll become not only a player that plays at a high level but a player that thinks the game at the highest level.”
Jones, a club teammate of Scambray’s, has also been at the top of national rankings throughout her prep career. PrepVolleyball ranks her 14th on the senior aces list, and the AVCA recently named her a 2013-14 First Team All-American. Listed between 6-2 and 6-3, the Los Alamitos native was on the MaxPreps preseason National Player of the Year Watch List. In 2011, Jones was named the ESPNHS National Sophomore of the Year.
Crissy Jones was the ESPNHS National Sophomore of the Year in 2011.
McLaughlin calls Jones “A player with just God-given ability. Sometimes Crissy makes it look easy. She’s a powerful kid with a good arm. As she learns how to regulate her timing, she’ll be in better places at better times, which will pressure the opponent even more. But the thing that really is neat about her is she can make all the plays. She has a nice skill level and can do a lot of things well.”
“I also like her drive, there’s something about her where she’s not going to be denied,” McLaughlin said. “As we got to know Crissy and got to know her family we just thought the world of her in many ways.”
Jones has mostly played middle for her Tstreet club team but has transitioned to outside hitter this season for her high school team. Los Alamitos is currently in the semifinals of the Southern Section CIF playoffs. Jones says that Washington was the first team to recruit her and the first letter she received came from Washington.
“I started to learn more about the school. I wanted to stay relatively close to home, play in the Pac-12 but get a different feel than the typical palm trees and beach,” says Jones. “The coaching staff was incredible, I loved the scenery on my visit in the fall, seeing all the trees change colors. The team was incredible and all the girls were so nice. And Tia is one of my very best friends.”
Schwan is the reigning Gatorade Washington State Player of the Year, and with her repeat state MVP performance this past weekend, she stands a good chance at repeating. The 6-foot-2 Schwan plays club for Kent Juniors, and was recently named the Tacoma News Tribune’s All-Area Player of the Year for the third year in a row. She was also part of the 25-woman AVCA All-America First Team along with Jones, and also named to the MaxPreps National Player of the Year Watch List.
Schwan just led Bellarmine Prep to an undefeated season and 4A title.
Ranked 19th on the Senior Aces list, Schwan chose Washington “because it is a great academic school, the Pac-12 is the most competitive conference in the nation, and I'm comfortable with the coaching staff, their style, and the athletes they have competing there now. I know that Coach McLaughlin can get me to the next level for hopefully a future after college professionally and with Team USA. I want to be part of an NCAA championship team.”
“She’s a good volleyball player, and she can do a lot of stuff well. That will be part of her identity; I don’t think she has a weakness,” McLaughlin said of Schwan. “She’s got good power. She makes a nice block move and has been well-coached on how to move at the net. She has a nice platform, and knows angles, so there isn’t anything Courtney can’t do, she’s just got to take her game to the next level, and she’ll be able to do that here.”
One more common bond between the three is that they were all a part of the U.S. Youth National Team for the 2012 NORCECA Girls’ Youth Continental Championships in Tijuana, Mexico. That team went 5-0 to win gold and qualify the U.S. for the World Championships which Scambray participated in this year.