CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - University of Tennessee at Chattanooga volleyball head coach Travis Filar announced his first early signing class on Tuesday as Julimar Alvarado-Concepcion (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Sarah Batterton (Colbert, Wash.), Lauren Gainer (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Briana Reid (Houston, Texas.) have signed National Letters of Intent to play with the Mocs beginning in the fall of 2012.
"This is a big day for the future of Chattanooga volleyball," said Filar. "For us, recruiting is a vital part of building this program and each of these young ladies are excited to be a part of the foundation of establishing Chattanooga volleyball as a championship program in the Southern Conference. Obviously, it is important to bring in great volleyball players and athletes, but for us, it is more important that they are also great members of the university and community of Chattanooga."
Included in the class are Alvarado-Concepcion (6-2), Batterton (6-2) and Gainer (6-0) that are all over six-feet tall adding some much needed size to the team. The signings add two more players at the middle blocker and outside hitter positions for the Mocs in 2012.
"The formation of this class has been a team effort by our staff," said Filar. "From the moment our staff came to Chattanooga, we knew that recruiting for the class of 2012 was paramount. We needed this class to be the cornerstone for success in the future. We could not be more excited to add these student-athletes to our Chattanooga Volleyball family. My entire coaching staff along with our athletic support staff was involved in this process, and I give a ton of credit to Savanah [Parra], who has done a tremendous job as our recruiting coordinator."
One recruiting philosophy that Filar and his staff showed is their dedication to recruiting nationally as Alvarado-Concepcion and Gainer are from the Sunshine State and the same club as current Moc Melissa Green (Boca Raton, Fla.). Filar continued in the south with picking up Reid from the Longhorn State. He rounded out the class with Batterton from the Pacific Northwest.
A dynamic outside hitter in Alvarado-Concepion provides height on the pin and comes in with a lot of volleyball knowledge. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native competed the past two seasons for head coach Brian Reim at the University School at Nova Southeastern where she was named the Suns 2011 MVP.
"Julimar is a go-to player and leader from the outside hitter position," said Filar. "There are not many outsides in the SoCon with her physicality or volleyball background, and because of this, I think she will have the ability to change matches. She is a six-rotation outside hitter, who can serve-receive and defend, terminate from anywhere on the court, and is a physical presence at the net as a blocker."
Prior coming to the United States, she grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico and was one of the top high school players making the 2009 and 2010 All-Star teams. She participated at the Puerto Rican Junior Nationals in 2009-10 and was selected to the all-star team in both years' tournaments.
"Volleyball in Puerto Rico is one of the biggest sports for young girls growing up, and she has been playing since she was seven years old," said Filar. "She has an awesome understanding of the game and the importance of her position in the outcome of a match. Julimar has impressed us so much as a person, as humble of an individual you will meet, and competes with a joy and smile that will be contagious to the rest of our team."
Alvarado-Concepcion is a member of the National Honor Society, Leadership Team and Student Government at the University School.
An accomplished middle blocker in Batterton was added, who captained Northwest Christian High School as a senior and led the team with 242 kills. The Crusaders coached by Chris Wells tallied a 61-19 record during her four seasons that included three-consecutive state playoff appearances.
"Sarah's number one strength is blocking, which for her position in our program, is what we need to improve the most," said Filar. "She terminates well in front of the setter, and with her size and length as an athlete, she has tremendous potential in the middle to be a go-to attacker and shut-down blocker."
A native of Colbert, Wash., she was a two-time All-League MVP during her final two seasons before being a 2009 All-State Honorable Mention after the Crusaders finished state runner-up. Batterton was a three-year member of the track and field team, while competing with the Spokane Splash volleyball club, where she is an assistant coach for the U12/U14 teams.
"She is a low-error attacker and understands the importance of taking care of the ball as a middle blocker," said Filar. "She is soft spoken and extremely humble off the court, but her competitiveness on the court is exactly what we need to continue to grow this program."
Off the court, Batterton has been an honor student all four years receiving academic awards for excellence in English, Biology and Spanish. She is currently a member of National Honor Society, Leadership Team and Student Government. Batterton is currently ranked No. 1 in her class at NWCHS and slated to be valedictorian of her class.
Another player from Tribe volleyball club, Gainer, caught the eye of Filar on his first weekend recruiting after taking the Mocs' head coaching position on Feb. 17, 2011 and he knew she would be a top priority at the team's No. 1 need, middle blocker. She was named to the Under Armour All-America watch list in August 2011 and is a four-year letterwinner for head coach Amanda Angermeier at Boca Raton High School.
"Lauren is a super dynamic middle and right now her biggest strength is blocking at the net," said Filar. "She has a great presence as a blocker, and can change matches with how high and disciplined she blocks, and how fast she is pin to pin."
She took 2010 Offensive Player of the Year honors and is a two-time member of the All-County First Team before receiving second team recognition as a freshman.
"She will have a great ability to score points in our serve-receive game, and because of her athleticism, her potential to be dominant in the transition game is very high as well. Not only did Lauren impress us with her ability on the court, but she absolutely blew us away with her character, work ethic and how important winning is to her."
The native of Boca Raton, Fla., is an officer in Student Government, National Honor Society and OneLove community service club. Gainer is the sports editor of the BRHS yearbook, while spending time involved in Health Occupation Society of America (HOSA), Interact Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Reid is the final member of the class and is a four-year letterwinner for head coach Preston Smith at St. Pius X High School. She captained the varsity squad during her senior campaign leading the Lady Panthers to a district title and state tournament appearance.
"Brianna comes from Houston, Texas - one of the best states probably in the country for prep volleyball," said Filar. "At 5-9, she is a smaller outside, but makes up for it with a huge heart, an inner drive, and a competitive nature that will positively impact the culture of the program. Her athleticism enables her to run any set, whether it be out-of-system sets at either pin or first-tempo sets anywhere on the net including the middle, and her dynamic arm will allow her to be a point producer for us."
The Houston, Texas, native is a two-time All-State Second Team and four-time All-District First Team selection. She received All-State Honorable Mention honors as a freshman. Reid currently competes on the Houston Juniors/Texas Pride Volleyball Club. Prior to then, she aided the Texas Tornadoes to four top-20 finishes at the Junior Olympics including a third-place finish in 2010.
"She has been a six-rotation outside hitter for her entire career, which will continue to improve our back row play in passing and defending," said Filar. "Brianna is an awesome teammate, has maturity off the court well beyond her years, and her time as a team captain will bring great leadership to our program."
Academically, she has been an honor student following each semester and is a member of the National Honor Society and Del Sarto National Honor Society. Reid was recognized with the Page Turner Award, Excellence in Yearbook and Congressional Award Bronze Certificate.
"We have not just added four great individuals, students and athletes, but also great families," said Filar. "Chattanooga volleyball is all about family. We could not be more excited about moving forward because the future of Chattanooga volleyball is super bright with our returning roster and these four additions. I look forward to announcing more additions to this class later this spring."
Julimar Alvarado-Concepcion - 6-2 - OH - Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (University School)
University School at Nova Southeastern
- Two-year letterwinner for head coach Brian Reim at University School after moving to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., from San Juan, Puerto Rico in the summer of 2010.
- 2011 Suns Team MVP.
- Made 2009 and 2010 All-Star team as one of the top high school players in Puerto Rico.
- Played at the Puerto Rico Junior Nationals in 2009-10, selected to the all-star team in both tournaments.
- Participated on club teams Borinquen Coqui (Puerto Rico) and Tribe Volleyball Club with current Moc Melissa Green and future classmate Lauren Gainer.
- Member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Art Honor Society at US.
Sarah Batterton - 6-2 - MB - Colbert, Wash. (Northwest Christian)
Northwest Christian High School
- Four-year letterwinner for head coach Chris Wells at Northwest Christian High School.
- Captained the Crusaders as a senior and ked team with 242 kills.
- Aided team to a 61-19 record during her four seasons that included three-consecutive state playoff appearances.
- Two-time All-League MVP (2010-11).
- 2009 All-State Honorable Mention after finishing state runner-up.
- Competed on the U17 Splash National club team that took first place at the Evergreen Region Championships and the 2011 Junior Nationals in Atlanta.
- Assistant Coach for NWC eighth grade team and assistant for U12/U14 Spokane Splash teams, 2010-2011.
- Three-year letterwinner on Varsity Track Team participating in the high jump, triple jump and javelin events.
- 4.0 GPA student, ranked number one in her class and is slated to be Valedictorian for the class of 2012.
- Honor Roll all four years of high school.
- Academic Award for Excellence in English, Biology, Spanish and Bible.
- Member of National Honor Society, Leadership Team and Student Government.
Lauren Gainer - 6-0 - MB - Boca Raton, Fla. (Boca Raton)
Boca Raton High School
- Four-year letterwinner at Boca Raton High School for head coach Amanda Angermeier.
- Named to Under Armour All-America watch list in August 2011.
- 2010 Offensive Player of the Year.
- 2010 All-County First Team.
- Two-time All-County Second Team (2008-09).
- Participated with Tribe Volleyball Club along with current Moc Melissa Green and future classmate Julimar Alvarado-Concepcion.
- Officer in Student Government (3 years), National Honor Society, One Love community service club.
- Sports Editor for the BRHS yearbook.
- Member of the Health Occupation Society of America (HOSA), Interact community service club, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Briana Reid - 5-9 - OH - Houston, Texas (St. Pius X)
St. Pius X High School
- Four-year leterwinner at St. Puis X High School for head coach Preston Smith.
- Captained the varsity squad as a senior leading the Lady Panthers to a district title and state tournament appearance.
- Two-time All-State Second Team (2009-10).
- Four-time All-District First Team (2008-11).
- 2009 SPXHS Most Improved player
- 2008 All-State Honorable Mention.
- Competes for Houston Juniors/Texas Pride Volleyball Club.
- Aided the Texas Tornadoes to four top-20 finishes as Junior Olympics including a third-place finish in 2010.
- Named to the honor roll each semester
- Member of the National Honor Society (2008-11) and Del Sarto National Honor Society.
- Honored with the Page Turner Award, Excellence in Yearbook and Congressional Award Bronze Certificate.
-Received Outstanding Academic Achievement form World Leadership Forum and People to People.