Eagles ink two Washington natives who will provide additional size up front
The five members of the 2011 Eagle volleyball recruiting class all have one thing in common -- size. Eastern Washington University head volleyball coach Miles Kydd had a mission this year to find quality athletes who could win battles at the net. With an average height of 6-foot-2, his 2011 recruiting class certainly has the potential to do just that.
Kydd announced Monday (May 9) the final two additions to his 2011 roster. Kellen Barfield, a 6-4 middle blocker out of Newport High School in Bellevue, Wash., and Kayla Randles, a 6-1 transfer from UC Riverside, will join Brandy Iverson, Amanda Brown and Talia Fermantez as part of the talented, and tall, 2011 recruiting class.
Iverson is a 6-2 outside hitter from Tacoma Community College, where she excelled as the leading hitter in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges, averaging 4.83 kills per set. Brown is a 6-1 middle blocker out of Los Altos High School in Hacienda Heights, Calif., and Fermantez is also a 6-1 middle blocker from Kamehameha High School-Kapalama in Honolulu, Hawaii.
"We want to be able to compete with the big teams in this conference," expressed Kydd. "In order to do that, you have to have the size and skill to win at the net. The pure physical potential of this incoming class is tremendous, and we feel each player will help our program immensely."
Barfield was a two-year varsity letterwinner at Newport, averaging 2.3 kills and 1.8 blocks per set during her senior season with the Knights. Her preparatory career was a bit shorter than many Division I athletes, especially in terms of club experience, but the raw athleticism of Barfield could not be overlooked by Kydd and his staff.
"Kellen is a completely raw athlete," said Kydd. "And when I say raw, I mean literally untrained. She didn't play a lot of club volleyball, and hasn't had a lot of physical training, but she is an athlete in every sense of the word."
Beyond the natural gift of a 6-4 frame, Barfield can reach to well over 10 feet. She used that impressive vertical to help lead the Knights to a second-place finish in the KingCo 4A League her senior season, and a spot in the state tournament for the first time since 2005, and the first time ever for Newport as a 4A school.
"Kellen is one of those rare athletes who can play above the net," said Kydd. "One of the reasons everyone was so impressed with past players like Hayley Hills and Chenoa Coviare was because of their ability to play above the net. Kellen fits that same mold."
"Because she didn't play a million years of club volleyball, there is certainly going to be a learning curve," added Kydd. "But we are dealing with a learning curve of a 6-4 athlete who can jump out of the gym. The upside with Kellen is really exciting."
If it wasn't clear by just looking at her, Barfield does in fact have volleyball in her bloodlines. Her older sister, Lauren, is a middle blocker for the perennial-power Washington Huskies. Lauren, who was among the top eight blockers in the Pac-10 Conference in 2010 after averaging 1.09 blocks per set, will begin her senior season with the Huskies next fall.
Kayla Randles will transfer to Eastern from UC Riverside with all four years of eligibility remaining, as she was a redshirt for the Highlanders in 2010. A native of Yakima, Wash., Randles will enjoy being much closer to home when she joins the Eagle family next fall.
"We had seen Kayla play as a senior in high school, and she definitely sparked our interest then," stated Kydd. "When we found out she was looking to move closer to home, we saw it as an opportunity we could not pass up."
"She has great size at 6-1 and has a really strong arm," added Kydd. "With an outside hitter, that is exactly what we were looking for - more muscle and power on the outside."
Randles graduated from Eisenhower High School in 2009, where she led the Cadets to the regional playoffs four-consecutive years. Randles was named to the All-Big Nine honorable mention squad as a sophomore in 2007 and was a first-team selection in 2008. She was also recognized on the All-State honorable mention squad her junior season. She holds the Eisenhower High School record for career blocks, and was the recipient of the Distinguished Scholastic Award in 2007 and 2008.
"Kayla comes in with a lot of experience with tough training," said Kydd. "She played 4A ball in high school and competed for a great club team in the Columbia Black. She also has a year of training at the collegiate level, so we are confident she will have little trouble adjusting to our program."
The 2011 volleyball season kicks off with the annual EWU alumni match on Aug. 20 at 1 p.m. at Reese Court. The first formal competition for the team is a tournament on the west side Aug. 26-27. The Eags will take on Seattle, Washington State and Santa Clara in Seattle, Wash. Eastern then returns to Cheney for a home match versus Boise State on Aug. 31 to wrap up the first month of action.