Nov. 12, 2010
UCLA women's volleyball head coach Mike Sealy has announced the signings of four future Bruins to National Letters of Intent. Joining the team in 2011 will be outside hitter Priscilla Ezeji (Stockton, Calif./St. Mary's HS), setter Megan Moenoa (Long Beach, Calif./Lakewood HS), middle blocker Zoe Nightingale (Sacramento, Calif./St. Francis HS) and middle blocker Olivia Okoro (Carrollton, Texas/Hebron HS).
"We are going to get much more physical and really fast with this recruiting class," Sealy said. All four of the girls signing are extremely physical. The hitters all touch well over 10 feet. We are going to fill some vital positions and they will be able to battle for starting positions right away.
Priscilla Ezeji - 5-10 - Outside Hitter - St. Mary's HS - Stockton, Calif. - City Beach
Ezeji only began playing volleyball in 2007, but quickly became a star at the sport, earning All-Tri-City Athletic League and All-Stockton Area honors as a junior. St. Mary's has posted undefeated seasons each year Ezeji has been on the team, as the Rams finished in second place at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in 2009. The 2010 squad will play its CIF Section Final match against Nightingale's St. Francis team on Nov. 18. Ezeji is also a standout track athlete and was a state finalist on the 4x400 relay team. Ezeji, who plays club for City Beach, was a member of PrepVolleyball's Senior Aces list.
"I've seen Priscilla single-handedly dismantle some of the best club teams in the country," Sealy said. "The first time I saw her play, she was the kind of player you don't really want to watch, because if you know you don't get her you have to somehow play against her. It's kind of a nightmare thinking about that. So when it worked out that she was coming here and with Dicey (McGraw) graduating, it puts her in a position to be able to battle and potentially step on the court right away and become a primary hitter."
Megan Moenoa - 5-9 - Setter - Lakewood HS - Long Beach, Calif. - Mizuno Long Beach
Moenoa, who was ranked 10th on PrepVolleyball's Senior Aces list, was named Moore League Co-Player of the Year as a junior and earned All-League first-team honors as a sophomore and junior. She has played with the Lakewood varsity since her freshman year and helped the Lancers to the 2007 State Championship. Her team reached the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Championships in 2010. Moenoa was selected to the U.S. Women's Junior National Training Team in 2010. She plays club with Mizuno Long Beach and helped her team qualify for Junior Nationals, but was unable to play due to injury. Moenoa did help Mizuno to silver at the 2008 Junior Nationals.
"Megan has been running a great offense since she was very young and has played well above her age group since I first saw her play in club," Sealy said. "She has a great persona and a strong will and mind. Megan has all those character components that you want in a setter. Unfortunately she had a couple of injuries in the last 18 months that slowed her down a little bit, but when she's healthy she is a very good shut down blocker and runs a quick, great offense."
Zoe Nightingale - 6-3 - Middle Blocker - St. Francis HS - Sacramento, Calif. - Force Volleyball
Nightingale is a two-time, Sacramento Bee All-Metro first-team honoree and was the back-to-back Delta River League Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009. As a junior, she led the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section in blocks with 109 and digs with 428 and was fourth with 415 kills. The Troubadours claimed four consecutive league championships, never losing a conference match. In 2009, Nightingale helped her team to a Division II Section title and an appearance in the Northern California championship match, posting a 38-7 record. St. Francis has advanced to the 2010 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Finals, where it will play Ezeji's St. Mary's squad on Nov. 18. Nightingale, who was 19th on PrepVolleyball's Senior Aces list, played club with Force Volleyball. On Nov. 17, Nightingale was named an Under Armour First-Team All-American.
"Zoe on the net blocking is an animal," Sealy said. "The first thing I noticed was that side-to-side she is relentless. There is not a seam that exists on the net when she is blocking. Zoe is great one-footed behind the setter and we are going to work a lot in developing her hitting in front of the setter off two feet. But as far as her overall blocking mentality, it's bar none one of the most aggressive I've ever seen."
Olivia Okoro - 6-1 - Middle Blocker - Hebron HS - Carrollton, Texas - Dallas Premier 17 Mizuno
Okoro was named to the Lone Star Volleyball All-Texas Team each of the last two seasons and earned first-team All-District 6-5A and the District's Best Blocker honors as a junior. Last season, Okoro helped the Hawks to a District 6-5A Championship. They were also Texas 5A Region 1 semifinalists. This year, Hebron won the Texas 5A Region 1 title and will play in the state playoffs starting Nov. 19. Okoro was ranked 24th on PrepVolleyball's Senior Aces list. She was named to the U.S. Women's Junior National Training Team in 2010 and was selected to the U.S. Girls' Youth Olympic Team roster in 2009, competing at the FIVB Girls' Youth World Championship. Okoro plays club with Dallas Premier 17 Mizuno and helped her team qualify for the Junior Nationals in 2010.
"Olivia is very athletic," Sealy said. "She gets up fast, and when she is up and you're blocking her, if you aren't jumping with her then you aren't touching her. She is quick laterally, side-to-side. Olivia has all the raw talent that you'd want from a big-time Division I player. It's going to be exciting to work with her and fine tune all the components of her game."