Cleveland State Volleyball has welcomed five freshmen to its 2020 roster. Head Volleyball Coach Alizabeth Atnip looks forward to seeing what this recruiting class can contribute in her second season at the helm.
She said,“Our recruiting class of 2020 promises to be dynamic on all levels. We have a well- rounded group of players incoming and I expect them to make a big impact.
The talent level equals the motivation. Every athlete shows such passion for the sport of volleyball. Each girl has the desire and fire that we look for in our program. I’m thrilled to see these players develop as this team flourishes.”
Here are the incoming class of freshmen:
Claire Beasley is a right side hitter and setter from Athens, Tenn. and a graduate of McMinn County High School. Beasley played four years for the Lady Cherokees and also played three years of travel volleyball for Victory Volleyball Academy. She was the recipient of the 2020 FCA Christian Athlete of the Year award for the Ocoee Region. A fun fact about Beasley is that she currently works as a Pharmacy Tech at Walgreens.
“I’m super excited about this opportunity not only to expand on my volleyball career and learn more about the sport I love, but I’m also excited about having a new family with this team,” said Beasley. “Already, Coach A and her girls have been so welcoming and nice from just the little time we’ve had to interact. This opportunity means so much to me because I always knew I didn’t want to leave volleyball behind in high school. But, playing at a school with a new program meant that playing at the next level in college was an opportunity I never really thought I would have. I’m very thankful for my coaches who worked extremely hard getting in contact with college coaches so our team had the best opportunities possible.”
Beasley’s coach at Victory Volleyball Academy Scott Leamon spoke highly of her. “Claire has played outside hitter, right side hitter, and setter, depending on the role required. However, she is much more than a player. She has leadership roles and is very active in Future Business Leaders of America and Fellowship of Christian Athletes as well as working part-time and keeping up with school. I believe she will make a great addition to Cleveland State’s team.”
Diemond Simpson is a defensive specialist and outside hitter from Dalton, Ga. and a graduate of Dalton High School. Simpson played five years of varsity volleyball for the Lady Catamounts and also played five years of travel volleyball. Simpson was named a Coaches’ Pick and also was a member of the National Honor Society. A couple of fun facts about Simpson is that she is the youngest of seven children, is a master of Just Dance, and also loves to go mudding in her free time.
Grace Wiggins is an outside hitter from Madisonville, Tenn. and a graduate of Sequoyah High School. In her time playing for the Lady Chiefs, she was named All-District all four years of high school and also won multiple Most Valuable Player awards. A fun fact about Wiggins is that she coached the county’s first ever middle school volleyball team.
“I am very excited to play at Cleveland State, because it gives me the chance to not only continue my academics, but to play a sport that I love,” said Wiggins.
Wiggins’ coach at Sequoyah High School Rebekah Monhollen spoke highly of her talent and character. “Grace is a player who knows the ins and outs of the game and is able to adapt as needed for the best for her team,” said Monhollen, “She has dealt with injuries, but has always worked hard to come back strong. I am excited to see her play at a higher level of competition as I know it will push her to her best ability.”
Wiggins’ coach at Victory Volleyball Academy Scott Leamon also spoke highly of her contributions to his team. “Grace was respectful and willing to listen to new coaching concepts and always gave 100 percent. She always asked and was willing to take on new position assignments. I believe that she has a lot of upside. In addition to playing, she helps to coach a young team and might have the bug to continue with that in the future! Combining this with her outstanding grades, I think she will be a welcome addition to both team and college.”
Kacie Hughes is from Tullahoma, Tenn. and was homeschooled. While in high school, she also graduated from a Dental Assistant program and was named the salutatorian of her class there.
Hughes’ high school coach Donnie Kinser looks forward to seeing how she will contribute to the Lady Cougars and be an uplifting teammate. “Kacie brought hustle to the game as a true team player that inspired those around her to play their best,” Kinser said. “So many times during her career she seemed to come out of nowhere to keep the ball in play. Playing at the next level for Cleveland State, Kacie's hustle and unselfish attitude will again encourage those around her to bring their A game! I look forward to seeing her play this fall.”
Madison Miner is a defensive specialist and libero from Madisonville, Tenn. and she is a Sequoyah High School graduate. In her time playing for the Lady Chiefs, she earned First Team All-District and All-County honors and was also named Defensive Player of the Year.
“I am excited about playing volleyball at Cleveland State and to experience the feel of college athletics,” said Miner. “I will gain so many friendships and lessons to help me in life. Signing with Cleveland State means I have the opportunity to continue to play the sport I love and get an education that most people cannot receive. I cannot wait to give it my all for Cleveland State!”
Miner’s Head Coach at Sequoyah High School Rebekah Monhollen expressed that the grit and toughness she brings will help the Lady Cougars. “I had the opportunity to coach Madison for two years and am so proud of her growth in the sport of volleyball in those two seasons,” said Monhollen. “She is not afraid to hit the floor and run through walls while going after a ball. She was able to find her spot on the team leading the back row defense while still utilizing her powerhouse strength in back row attacks. I am so excited to see how she continues to progress at a higher level of play.”
Miner’s coach Scott Leamon at Victory Volleyball Academy also spoke highly of her character and effort on-and-off of the court. “Madison is coachable and I think she has lots of potential. One thing that always comes to my mind is her almost immediate response to anything that was asked of her in terms of team-related tasks. She also has excellent grades and I believe she will be a welcome addition to both team and school.”