NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Lipscomb volleyball coach Brandon Rosenthal has announced the signings of four players for 2017 - Alyssa Zwolensky, Ashley Maher, Megan Kuper and Samantha “Sami” Rubal.
Zwolensky is a 5-foot-7 defensive specialist-libero from Rockledge, Florida. Maher is a 5-4 defensive specialist –libero from Chicago, Illinois. Kuper is a 6-foot outside hitter from Lenexa, Kansas. Rubal is a 6-foot-3 middle blocker from Lewis Center, Ohio near Columbus.
“It is a very well-rounded group and a group that already has a great connection with each other,” Rosenthal said. “That is huge because they are asked to come in right away and compete and the fact they know each other makes it better.
“They were all here to watch us win the ASUN Championship. That was special that they chose to do that.”
Zwolensky, a four-year letter winner, holds the career record with 1,127 kills and the career record for aces with 273 for her Merritt Island High School team.
She served as team captain for her high school team as a junior and senior and for her club teams for three seasons. She was named Florida Today Player of the Year in 2013. In 2014 she helped direct her high school team to the state finals.
Academically, she has been an honor roll member for four years and is graduating with honors.
“She has a ton of fire,” Rosenthal said. “Alyssa is a fighter. She won’t back down from anybody. She is a truly special athlete.
“She can hit the ball with the best of them. We see her as a libero. It will be exciting to see what she can do focusing in on passing and defense instead of also having to do jumping and hitting.”
Maher is from Mother McAuley High School in Chicago, the same school where Lipscomb’s Jenny Phelan played.
She has played for a number of championship teams on several levels in club and high school.
In 2016 she was GCAC All-Conference. Her high school team was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Prep Volleyball and was also No.1 in the state of Illinois.
Maher served as captain of the junior varsity in 2014. Also in 2014 she was named to the Red Devil Invite All-Tournament Team. In 2013 she was the Hinsdale Red Devil JV Invite Most Valuable Player.
She was named Academic All-Conference in 2013, ’14, ’15 and ’16.
“Ashley has such a passion for the game,” Rosenthal said. “She is going to do a really solid job adding depth to our defense and creating the pressure we already are known for. Having more people who can do that on a regular basis at a high level is really neat.”
Kuper was part of the 2016 Kansas 6-A State Champions in volleyball for Olathe Northwest High School.
She was a member of the State All-Tournament Team in 2016. She played in the MOKAN (Missouri-Kansas) All-Star match. She was First Team All-League in 2016, Second Team All-League in 2015 and Honorable Mention All-League in 2014.
Kuper lettered for four years in volleyball and served as the team captain of her high school team her junior year. She has been captain of her club team every season since playing on the 14s level.
She was also an Honor Roll member in 2014-15.
“Megan is a really versatile player,” Rosenthal said. “We are starting her out on the outside, but she has the tools to play the right side as well. She is a five-tool player.
“She is very well-trained. It will be huge to add her depth.”
Rubal lettered three years in volleyball and finished with career totals of 683 kills and 236 blocks for Olentangy Orange High School. She helped guide her high school team to the “Sweet 16” in the state in 2016.
In 2016 she was on the Under Armour All-American Watch List. She was Second Team All-State, becoming the first player from the volleyball program to earn a spot on an All-State team. She also earned a place on the 2016 PrepVolleyball.com Senior Aces 150.
She was selected First Team Central All-District and OCC Player of the Year in 2016. Rubal was the OOHA Volleyball Offensive Award winner in 2016 as well.
She was the OOHA Scholar-Athlete from 2014-16. She was First Team All-OCC in 2016 and ’15. In 2015 Rubal was on the AVCA Phenom List and was also a leading candidate for PrepVolleyball.com’s Top 50 Juniors.
“Sami is one of the most instinctive blockers I have ever seen,” Rosenthal said. “She was on a really talented club team and I think in many ways Sami is underrated. This past year in high school really showed her leadership. She was one of the main weapons.
“The sky is the limit for her. She is one of those player who is going to make an immediate impact. She is ready to learn and she is ready to go at it pretty hard. I couldn’t be more excited about what she brings to the table.”
Zwolensky and Rubal will start classes at Lipscomb in January, the first time Rosenthal has had signees decide to graduate early from high school.
“Both of them are prototypical exact fits for what we need,” Rosenthal said. “Sami is eager to be here. Alyssa wanted to come here early and she made it happen.
“Alyssa was the first one to ask and Sami asked if she could do it too. This is kind of uncharted territory for us to have freshmen coming in early. We are excited. It is a huge benefit for us to have them here for the spring and summer.”