AMES, Iowa – Iowa State volleyball announced four additions to its program for the 2018 season during the November National Letter of Intent signing period, head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch announced Thursday. ISU will welcome outside hitter Brooke Andersen of Waukesha, Wisconsin, defensive specialist Taylor Baranski of Channahon, Illinois, setter Jenna Brandt from Sumner, Iowa and outside hitter/setter Eleanor Holthaus of Richmond, Minnesota. This place features a pair of top-60 recruits in PrepVolleyball.com’s Class of 2018 rankings in Andersen (No. 37) and Holthaus (No. 59).
“This is a wonderful incoming class that combines athleticism with experience and understanding of the game,” Johnson-Lynch said. “More than that, we are bringing in a group of young women that are coming to Iowa State because they want to be great. This is a hard-working, hard-nosed and high-character class with great potential.”
Brooke Andersen: OH, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Andersen, the No. 37 recruit in the Class of 2018 per PrepVolleyball and a Second Team AVCA/Under Armour Girls High School All-American, will join ISU after a star-studded career at Lake Country Lutheran in Wisconsin, which concluded with a state title last weekend. A three-time First Team All-State honoree, Andersen has led the Lightning to four-straight conference titles while being the Midwest Classic Conference Player of the Year each season. In LCL’s state semifinal match last Friday, Andersen recorded 34 kills, 10 digs and a state-tournament record nine aces to win in five sets. Andersen played her club volleyball for Milwaukee Sting, earning 2016 AAU All-America honors, and being a member of the JVA All-National Team for five-straight seasons.
“Brooke is a true six-rotation outside hitter, and those are hard to find,” Johsnon-Lynch stated. “Her ball-control and defense are pretty special. She has played a ton of high-level volleyball, and she’s got an awesome feel for the game. Brooke is a smooth player, whether that be her approach, her shot selection on attack or her passing, she makes it all look easy. Her parents are alumni of Iowa State, and there is tremendous pride in their family for the Cyclones.”
Taylor Baranski: DS/L, Channahon, Illinois
Baranski is a three-year varsity letterwinner and two-year starter at libero for Minooka Community High School. A two-time all-conference honoree, Baranski has been an important piece for a Minooka team that is currently 38-2 on the season and in the state semifinals coming up this weekend. She is averaging over six digs per set this season and approaching her second-straight campaign over 500 digs. A second team all-state selection as a junior, she played her club ball for UNO Volleyball Club, where her team got 13th at Junior Nationals last season in the Open Division.
“Taylor has tremendous defensive instincts,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She caught my eye because she gets in this zone where opponents just can’t get a ball down on her. She reads very well, and makes it look easy because she anticipates so well. I love that her mom is a coach, Taylor gets the game and understands what it takes to be great at a very high level. She’ll help shore up our back row, we’ll have an awesome group of defensive players with her in the mix.”
Jenna Brandt: S, Sumner, Iowa
A two-time All-State honoree, Brandt helped lead Sumner-Fredericksburg to the state tournament three times, including a runners-up finish as a sophomore in 2015. A team captain for the past two seasons, Brandt played in a setter/hitter role this season, ranking second on her team with 147 kills, while dishing out 489 assists and 215 digs. Brandt is the latest Iowa State recruit to come out of the Six Pack Volleyball Club in Cedar Falls.
“What really drew us to Jenna is how hard she plays and how competitive she is,” Johnson-Lynch noted. “She reminds me a lot of Kaylee Manns – about the same size, elite athlete with very fast feet and someone who could excel in just about any sport. She has played a lot of high-level volleyball and she’s a very experienced setter. She and Piper (Mauck) will really complement each other, our setting position will continue to be elite in the coming years with these two running the offense.”
Eleanor Holthaus: OH/S, Richmond, Minnesota
Holthaus, the No. 59 recruit in the Class of 2018 per PrepVolleyball and an Honorable Mention AVCA/Under Armour Girls High School All-American, is one of the top recruits from the Land of 10,000 Lakes in the Class of 2018. Holthaus has racked up the awards during her prep career: four-time all-conference and all-section, three-time all-area Player of the Year, three-time MNVBCA First Team All-State and a finalist for Minnesota’s 2017 Ms. Baden Award given to the state’s player of the year. After playing as a hitter/setter her first three seasons of varsity, Holthaus is a full-time hitter this season, averaging 5.4 kills per set at a .406 hitting percentage.
“Eleanor is a unique player,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She is very physical at the net, she is powerful, she has a great arm and she’s a big blocker. She has great backcourt skills and can pass and play defense. Even with all that, she’s a great setter too. I haven’t seen many players that can play so many different positions at a high level like she can, it will be fun to be creative with her and figure out a way to make the most of all she can do.”