Upstate Volleyball Inks Mid-West Trio
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate volleyball team and head coach Jennifer Calloway announced the signing of Javon Gates, Jaina Jackson and Shannon Weiss to the Spartans' 2012 roster.
Gates is a native of Indianapolis, playing her high school career as a middle blocker at North Central High School. She blocked her way into the program history books, owning every solo rejection record at North Central. She tallies 62 career solo denials, 51 single season individual blocks in 2010 and six single match solo rejections.
Gates is a three-time academic all-conference selection, picking up the honor in 2009, 2010 and 2011. She also earned her school's Major Athletic Award in 2010.
The middle blocker also brings club volleyball experience to the Spartan squad. She plays for the Team Indiana 18-1 Elite. Gates was named Most Improved Player for her club team in 2009.
"I chose Upstate because the campus was beautiful, the coaching staff and faculty were wonderful and the teammates were awesome," Gates said. "Also, Upstate has a Pre-Physical Therapy program that is a great help for me to get into graduate school and earn my doctorate in Physical Therapy."
Jackson is from Huntley, Ill., and played the middle blocker position for Huntley High School, helping the squad to a 31-8 record her senior season. During her high school career, the Red Raiders claimed the Regional Championship title in 2009 and 2011, reaching the Sectional Championship match this year and the Sweet 16 in conference. At one point this season, Huntley was ranked 42nd in the nation after beating Cary Grove High School to end its two-season winning-streak.
As a junior, Jackson led the Red Raiders in solo blocks with 36 denials and posted a 91.3 serve percentage. In 2011, she was named to the Fox Valley All-Conference Team and collected Plainfield All-Tournament Team honors Aug. 27. She is a two-time Daily Herald All-Area Honorable Mention (2010, 2009) and earned Northwest Herald Athlete of the Week accolades twice (2011, 2010).
The Huntley, Ill., native also brings club playing experience to the Spartan squad. Jackson spent four years with SkyHigh Volleyball before joining Fusion Volleyball this past year. The Fusion Volleyball team finished fifth-place in the Houston Junior Volleyball Association Tournament and claimed fifth at Digging in the Dells.
"I chose Upstate because of how close the girls were and I felt like I got along with all of them," Jackson said. "I also chose Upstate because I loved how nice the campus was, how new all of it seemed and I got along with the coaches. The program looks very promising to where I will be pushed throughout the next four years."
Weiss hails from Highland, Ill., becoming the fourth incoming Spartan recruit from the Prairie State. She played right side for Highland High School, helping the team to a 28-5 record this season. During her senior season, the Bulldogs won the Mississippi Conference Championship and the Regional Championship. She recorded 194 kills, scooped up 218 digs and tallied 59 service aces.
The right side player was a Mississippi Valley Conference First Team selection and an All-Area Second Team member her senior year, while earning Academic Honor Roll status. Weiss was also named Highland's team MVP her sophomore and senior seasons. In 2011, she was selected to the All-Highland Tournament Team and the All-Granite City Tournament Team. She also played for the H2 St. Louis 19 Cardinal club team.
"I loved Upstate from the moment I stepped foot on campus," Weiss said. "It wasn't just the campus, but the people too. I was able to connect with the coaches and the players easily. I knew when I left that this university was the right place for me."
"We are thrilled with the incoming freshman class," Calloway said. "We are looking for these talented young ladies to bring in their wealth of competitive spirit, athleticism and academic strengths to raise the bar this Fall. Each player brings something unique to the team. However, I love how Javon, Jaina and Shannon fit in instantly with our team. The fall will be an exciting time and we can't wait to get to work."
Gates, Jackson and Weiss join Lexi Gober and Kayla Eversgerd in the 2012 Spartan volleyball recruiting class. Upstate graduates two four-year starters from the 2011 squad in outside hitter Kelsie Queen (Blythewood, S.C.) and middle blocker Morgan Thomas (Plantation, Fla.).