BYU vs. Stanford 6

BYU head coach Heather Olmstead addresses the BYU women's volleyball team prior to an NCAA tournament semifinal match against Stanford on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. 

BYU’s Heather Olmstead is finding a way to keep her program near the top of the women’s college volleyball rankings.

Two years ago, the Cougars pulled in the No. 4 recruiting class according to PrepVolleyball.com, and the Class of 2020 is ranked No. 14 by the same publication.

This the third straight season BYU has been ranked in the top 15. The Class of 2018 was pegged at No. 8 by PrepVolleyball.com.

These three classes become very important as Olmstead looks to the 2020 season since All-Americans Mary Lake and McKenna Miller have both graduated.

The 2020 class includes Madi Allen, a 5-foot-8 libero from Temecula, California; Leilani Dodson, a 6-1 middle blocker from La Grange, Illinois; Allie Hakes, a 6-4 middle blocker from Folsom, California; and Makayla Tolman, a 6-3 outside hitter from Burley, Idaho.

“This group will add a lot of talent to our team and, with their commitment to learning, I know they will stretch and commit themselves to see just how good they can become,” Olmstead said. “They are physical, versatile and great competitors that Cougar Nation will love to watch.”

This is what PrepVolleyball.com had to say about the Cougars’ latest recruiting efforts:

“With its 2020 class, the Cougars welcome tons of height and a defender who will love to play around them.

“Allen has played club with Coast who has made two top-three finishes at USAV Nationals. The No. 78 Senior Ace sees an opening as longtime libero Mary Lake has graduated. With a good feel for the ball, Allen sees the ball well and is expected to raise the level of play in the BYU gym.

“Dodson, Ace No. 33, is lightning quick with a good arm. Hailing from the Midwest, Dodson moves well side-to-side, puts up a great block, and is extremely efficient on the slide attack.

“Also smooth on the slide is Hakes who has the height and the arm to score in the middle. Hakes is a ‘Next 150’ recruit who is a good blocker and sees the block well on offense.

“Tolman, the lefty right side and Senior Ace No. 44, has already joined the Cougars and Idaho Crush teammates Whitney and Morgan Bower in Provo. A three-time State All-Tournament Team selection, Tolman is physical with a presence that will benefit BYU’s gym culture.”

The 2018 class yielded Pleasant Grove middle blocker Heather Gneiting, who was the NCAA Freshman of the Year. After two years in the program, Gneiting is currently serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Seattle. Madi Robinson, who prepped at Lone Peak, opted to transfer to the University of Utah this winter. American Fork’s Taylor Tausinga and Whitney McEwan (now Llarenas) are both juniors.

The Class of 2019 includes starting setter Whitney Bower, who graduated from high school early to join the program last summer with her sister, libero Morgan Bower. Opposite hitter Kate Grimmer started 16 matches as a freshman and finished with 124 kills. Outside hitter Abbey Dayton and libero Grace Wee also saw playing time as freshmen. Classmates Morgan Johnson and Erin Anderson redshirted in 2019.

BYU was ranked No. 1 for 10 weeks in 2018 and advanced to the Final Four. Last season, the Cougars were 26-5 and hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament but didn’t advance to at least the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2011.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!