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No. 4 Ducks Welcome Another Heralded Signee Class
Release Date: 11/14/2012
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EUGENE – Looking to replace one of the team’s top senior classes, the University of Oregon volleyball program inked another impressive group of prep seniors in Wednesday’s first day of National Letter of Intent signing.

The Ducks welcomed a pair of Senior Ace honorees in All-America libero Amanda Benson and middle blocker Haylee Roberts, and two more decorated prospects from California in opposite side hitter Naya Crittenden and middle blocker Kacey Nady.

“We’re very excited to welcome a great group of recruits” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “Last year’s class was our best ever, and this one is very close – both athletically and in addressing positions we needed to fill. Amanda is the best libero in the country, and she will help ease the graduation of Haley (Jacob) and Kellie (Kawasaki). Naya is so gifted athletically – she is quick, can jump, and brings a lot of things you can’t teach. With Ariana (Williams) being a senior next year, we needed to add some middles, and Kacey and Haylee will contribute right off the bat. All four of them have played with our current freshman class at camp, and can’t wait to be Ducks.”

Profiles of all four players and individual comments from Moore follow.

- Amanda Benson, Libero, 5-7, RH, Lichtfield Park, Ariz., Xavier Prep HS (Club Red)
- Naya Crittenden, Opposite Side Hitter, 6-2, LH, Modesto, Calif., Peter Johansen HS (Rage VC)
- Kacey Nady, 6-2, Middle Blocker, RH, El Cajon, Calif., West Hills High School (Coast VC)
- Haylee Roberts, 6-3, Middle Blocker, RH, Bakersfield, Calif., Liberty High School (Club Jamba)

- Amanda Benson, L, 5-7, RH, Lichtfield Park, Ariz., Xavier Prep HS (Club Red)
One of the nation’s top prep liberos, she played on the USA Volleyball Junior National Team last summer that won the gold medal in the NORCECA Games in Nicaragua, and was a member of the 2011 USAVB Youth Select A2 National Team. A 2012 PrepVolleyball Senior Ace and Under Armour All-American, the publication also tabbed her a 2010 National Sophomore of the Year Finalist, and Defensive Dandy in 2009 and ’11. In high school action in 2012, the state player of hte year helped her Xavier Prep team finish 34-11 and place second in the state championship. As a junior she was an All-Arizona and All-State Division 1 First Team Pick, and an Arizona Large School All-State First-Team pick as a sophomore in 2010. As a freshman, she was an Arizona Fiesta All-Region choice and started for the 5A-1 state champion. In club action, she starred for Club Red teams the last three years (2010-12), and played prior seasons for Arizona Sky teams from 2006-09.

“Amanda is the best libero recruit in the country,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “Stacy (Metro, assistant coach) calls her a difference maker, and she is right. She was the starter for the Junior National Team, and can dig balls that are crazy difficult, and also receives serve as well as anyone her age. She has a dynamic, take-charge personality that will help us, too. She will have to work hard to compete with Tatum (Norton) and Natalie (Bookout Gonzalez) for the starting role next year, but is certainly capable of that.”

- Naya Crittenden, Opposite Side Hitter, 6-2, LH, Modesto, Calif., Peter Johansen HS (Rage VC)

The dynamic multi-sport athlete and three-year volleyball letterwinner has blossomed into an all-conference pick in 2011. In club action, her Rage VC team was a 2012 Regional Qualifier and placed sixth in the Gold Division, and added fifth place in the National Division at Junior Nationals. Also an accomplished sprinter, the three-year letterwinner helped her 4x100-meter relay team win Modesto Metropolitan Conference titles in 2011 and ’12, and her best time in the 400 meters is 59.33.

“Naya is so gifted athletically – as much as any signee we have ever had,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “She jump touches around where Canace (Finley) is at (10-6), and she’s left-handed, so she is a great addition in many ways. She has a huge block, is as tall as Alaina (Bergsma), and is really quick. She hasn’t played club at the highest level very long, so there may be some adjustment, but she will be a huge asset for us in the long run.”

- Kacey Nady, 6-2, RH, El Cajon, Calif., West Hills High School (Coast VC)

A two-year letterwinner at West Hills High School, she has led her team to Grossmont League volleyball titles in 2011 and ’12. The prior seasons, the Arizona 5A All-State Honorable Mention was the athlete of the year as a sophomore in 2010 for Kofa Bailey Nations High School in Yuma, Ariz. She helped her Kofa squads win a pair of Gila Villaey Region volleyball titles, and was a two-year letterwinner in both basketball and track and field. This past summer, her Coast Volleyball Club placed 10th in the Junior Olympics and third in the Southern California qualifier.

“Kacey is athletic, quick and a very good blocker,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “She can contribute offensively right off the bat, and her blocking skills are well-developed. She is hard-working and solid player already.”

- Haylee Roberts, 6-3, RH, Bakersfield, Calif., Liberty High School (Club Jamba)

The all-league and all-area honoree has posted impressive stats this fall (.541, 0.97 aces p/s, 1.80 blocks p/s), and her team is in contention for the SEYL league title. The PrepVolleyball Senior Ace honoree was an all-league and all-area choice as a junior after she hit .467 and added 365 kills, 23 aces and 138 blocks. As a sophomore, she picked up the first of her three all-league honors after she hit .410. The four-year starter was also an all-area honorable mention as a sophomore and freshman, and her team won the SEYL league title in 2009.  In club duty, she will play for the Club Jamba team in 2013 after prior stints with the Laguna Beach (2012), Bakersfield VC (2011, 2007-08) and Vision Zone (2009-10) teams. In 2012, her LBVC team placed 14th in the Junior National Open Division, and other clubs placed 13th and fifth in the National Division in 2011 and ‘09; and won the American Division in 2010 (and was the tourney MVP in the last event).

“Haylee is another solid addition at middle blocker,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “She can put balls on the floor, and as she develops defensively will boost us more and more.”

Closer to home this week, No. 4 Oregon (22-3, 13-3) heads north for its final out-of-state tilts of the regular season at its Washington rivals.

Still ranked second in the nation’s top volleyball league, UO first plays at No. 6 Washington (20-5, 11-5) on Friday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m., then takes on Washington State (12-16, 2-14) on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.

Next week, Oregon wraps up the regular season by hosting No. 5 UCLA (Tue., Nov. 20) and plays at Oregon State (Fri., Nov. 23).  Fans can tune in to watch the 8 p.m. Bruin and Beaver matches live on the Pac-12 Oregon TV Network, and the Washington tilt will be video-streamed online for free via the website.

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