Volleyball adds three impact players

By Doug Fitzgerald published May 16, 2005

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs volleyball coach Jessica Wood announced Monday the addition of three new players to an already formidable roster.

The Mountain Lions added a pair of Division I transfers, Diane Sheldon from the U.S. Naval Academy and Stephanie Laband from Stetson, plus one of the most sought-after freshmen in Colorado in Northglennâ€TMs 6-foot-1 setter Jocelyn Evans.

Two other freshmen, Strasburg setter Jessica Stewart and Pueblo West outside hitter Marie Ottino, were added during the early signing period in November.

“This is an athletically gifted group,” said Wood. “When combined with the players we have coming back, we could make leaps forward.”

Both of the Division I transfers are outside hitters and come from Colorado Springs-area high schools. Sheldon was an All-State performer at Colorado Springs Christian School, while Laband was named All-State honorable mention in 2002 and helped Lewis-Palmer win state championships in 2001 and 2002 and Final Four appearances in 2000 and 2003.

Sheldon was nominated for the Patriot League Freshman of the Year Award in 2004 after averaging 2.58 kills per game, the second-best mark for the Midshipmen. The sophomore, who is noted for her powerful hitting stroke, also had a .216 hitting percentage.

“Sheâ€TMs a powerhouse,” said Wood of Sheldon. “She hits the ball with incredible speed and also brings a great understanding of the game.”

A back injury limited Laband to only one game for Stetson in 2004, but she was an integral part of Lewis-Palmerâ€TMs incredible success for four years prior. After earning All-State honorable mention in 2002, she posted 208 kills, 100 digs and 94 blocks her senior year and was selected to play in the Colorado High School Association All-State Game. A letterwinner in both soccer and volleyball, Laband was a six-time academic All-State honoree.

“(Laband is) a very technically sound player with a great defensive game,” said Wood. “Sheâ€TMs got a beautiful arm swing, which allows her to see and hit around the block with accuracy and power.”

As good as those two are, the signing drawing the most buzz in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference volleyball circles is Evans, who was named Top 5A setter in 2004 by the Rocky Mountain News. Evans was a first-team All-State selection as a junior and senior when she was also honored as the MVP of the Front Range League.

“Sheâ€TMs probably the tallest setter in the RMAC,” said Wood. “It gives her an advantage as both an offensive player and on the block.”

Wood couldnâ€TMt be more delighted with the additions.

“All three are intense competitors who want to win” said Wood. “They all come from winning programs and have the winnerâ€TMs mentality.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Diane SheldonDiane Sheldon11OH/RSSr.
Diane SheldonDiane Sheldon11OH/RSSr.
Diane SheldonDiane Sheldon11OH/RSSr.
Jocelyn EvansJocelyn Evans2S
Marie OttinoMarie Ottino3OH
Marie OttinoMarie Ottino3OH
Jessica StewartJessica Stewart8SJr.
Jessica StewartJessica Stewart8SJr.
Jessica StewartJessica Stewart8SJr.
Jessica StewartJessica Stewart8SJr.
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