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Saturday, January 28, 2023

True, one of the greatest senior classes in UF volleyball history is leaving school after this season.

But the volleyball program announced it is reloading Wednesday, as an outstanding class of recruits signed national letters of intent for next season.

BThis group has the same opportunity to leave their mark all over our program before they?re done,C UF coach Mary Wise said. BWe?re excited about getting them all.C

The class includes PrepVolleyball.com?s overall No. 1-ranked player, setter and outside hitter Kelly Murphy, who comes from Joliet Catholic Academy in Joliet, Ill.

Wise said Murphy will likely see action both as a setter and a hitter.

Her list of achievements is well worth drooling over for Gators fans: Her high school won regional crowns all four years, she helped the USA Junior National Team to a fourth-place finish at the 2007 FIVB Junior National World Championships and she helped her team win national titles in the 2007 and 2006 Junior Olympics.

Middle blocker Cassie Anderson signed from Bakersfield High in California.

Wise sees Anderson being one of the quickest middle blockers in UF history and someone the setters will look forward to assisting.

BCassie will remind people of perhaps Kelsey Bowers in being very elite off one foot,C Wise said.

Anderson will be joined in the middle with 6-foot-2 Betsy Smith from Wesleyan School in Atlanta, who won state titles in all four years of high school.

Smith also played on the Junior National A2 squad with UF freshman Kristy Jaeckel, who is redshirting this season, so there should be some chemistry present when they start to play.

BThey got to be good buddies, and Kristy, because she was redshirted, goes right into that class, and that is another added bonus of that class,C Wise said.

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Rounding out the class is pure setter Cindy Bathelt, who comes to Gainesville from Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Bathelt will likely split time setting with current UF sophomore Alli Cecchini.

In a phone interview, Bathelt said she was heavily recruited by LSU and Washington State, but chose UF knowing she would get to play with athletes who could kill the ball.

BI expect to get a lot sharper, and just to grow and become a more seasoned player,C she said.

She had not spoken with any of the other recruits as of Thursday night, but said she will when all four have their official visit to Gainesville today.

BFrom all the hype I?ve been hearing … I?m really excited about it.C

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