By Jill Saftel, News Staff
Women’s volleyball coach Ken Nichols was looking to fill a few holes with his 2013 recruiting class, but the class of five players, from across the country and beyond, all bring bonuses to Cabot Center’s Solomon Court.
Some bring height, others experience, but Yael Lotan, Hannah Fry, Jamie Bredahl, Caterina Rosander and Claire Manhard are each ready to make an impact on the Husky roster.
Lotan, coming to Northeastern out of Israel, might have the most interesting story of all Nichols’ recruits. At 5’10″, she appeared on the Israeli National Team’s youth, junior and senior teams. The outside hitter also brings with her a breadth of sand volleyball experience, competing at the U-18, U-20 and U-23 European Championship and the U-21 World Championship.
Other than her international background, what sets Lotan apart is her two years of mandatory military service in the Israeli army. Because of her time in the service, Lotan was unable to matriculate straight from high school to college, and to comply with NCAA rules she’ll have to sit out a year before competing on the court.
While Nichols said the NCAA’s blanket policy on time off before competing as a collegiate athlete is a little unfair, he understands their point.
“It’s unfortunate and hopefully that rule changes, but she’ll get a chance to train with the team, acclimate to our culture and academically she’s a terrific kid,” Nichols said. “We’ll still get a great benefit of her being here.”
And as for when Lotan becomes eligible to compete in the 2014 season, Nichols has no doubts about her impending contribution.
“She’s without question going to be an impact player in our conference the next year,” he said.
Of the class’s four remaining incoming freshmen, three hail from the west coast while one will have a much closer trip to Huntington Avenue.
Hailing from Mechanicsburg, Pa., Fry was a four-year captain at Trinity High School. At 6’3″, she contributed to her club team’s two consecutive appearances at nationals.
“She’s a little more of a specialty player, a classic big right side,” Nichols said. “She’s strong and fast with a significant jump for her size, a quick hand, sees the block well can hit late and around it and blocks big.”
Moving west, out of Parker, Colo. the Huskies will welcome Bredahl. At 5’10″ she has the ability to play at both outside hitter and setter and competed with the Front Range club volleyball team in addition to excelling at the high school level.
Nichols said Front Range has a great reputation, and recalled being at nationals, where he said Bredahl was a huge piece of the team’s third-place finish.
“I loved walking around nationals hearing people talk about this big impact hitter Northeastern has coming,” he said.
Manhard, 5’11″, and Rosander, 6’3″, are both making the cross-country trek to don red and black. For Manhard, the colors run in the family.
“Her dad was a rower and she knew a great deal about Northeastern’s path and has been enamored with what the university has become,” Nichols said. “We had recruited her without any knowledge of her connection.”
Manhard can compete as an opposite side hitter and defensive specialist, and Nichols said she may fall into a specialty role for the Huskies.
“She’s one of those classic players that can do a lot of things because of her volleyball I.Q.,” he said. “She’s very capable in the back, she has a terrific and aggressive serve.”
Rounding out the group is Rosander, who as a team captain in 2011, led Canyon Crest Academy to its second consecutive league championship.
“She’s been a substantial starting middle at a very high level and comes in with a lot of experience,” Nichols said. “I think she will acclimate to our system very quickly, she’s exceptionally bright and more than ready to contribute in her first year.”
Nichols’ club went 20-7 overall in their 2012 campaign, getting knocked out of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament in the first round by James Madison University in a 3-2 final. The Huskies had a 9-3 record in conference play.
“We knew we needed a big impact middle, somebody on the right, and everything else is just going to be a huge bonus,” Nichols said. “We could have been a little deeper in every other position and I think that’s what we’ve accomplished now.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing what we’ve got and how the chemistry is going to work out.”