Nov. 14, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- University of New Mexico head coach Jeff Nelson, along with assistants Lisa Beauchene and Ben Wallis, are pleased to announce the signing of three exceptional and home-grown student-athletes to the Lobo volleyball program. Cassie House, Devanne Sours and Julia Warren, all of New Mexico, will join UNM for the 2013-14 season.
"This is the best recruiting class we've had here and probably the best recruiting class to come out of the state of New Mexico," Nelson said. "They are the three premiere high school volleyball players in the state this year and all three of them are ranked among the top 200 recruits in country, which is incredible.
"We felt like we really had to pursue this group of in-state kids that is so talented. Cassie and Julia committed (verbally) when they were sophomores and then Devanne committed this past summer. They all committed pretty early for us and they've stuck by those commitments. They are already very loyal to this program."
Nelson says he's found exactly what he set out searching for in the trio of future Lobos.
"We are trying to take the experience of our players, the athleticism and the overall volleyball IQ of our players to a higher level and all three of these kids do that," he said. "And they're big and they are strong."
Each player is dynamic and could play virtually any position asked of them.
All three will come to UNM with a number of accomplishments.
House joins the Lobos from Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, N.M. She and the Storm just won their third-straight District 1-5A title and are in pursuit of a state championship this weekend at the New Mexico high school volleyball state tournament. Cleveland finished second at the state tourney in 2010 and 2011. House has had three coaches during her time at Cleveland, including Wallis, Vicky McCarty and Brian Ainsworth.
"Cassie is extremely physical," Nelson said. "She hits the ball hard, puts up a big block and has the ability to absolutely dominate at the net."
The 6-foot-2 outside hitter has a number of volleyball accolades, including All-District honorable mention as a freshman and All-District first team honors as a sophomore, junior and senior. Her sophomore and junior seasons she was also named All-State first team and has earned All-District academic team honors three times.
House is a three-sport athlete, and in addition to her four varsity letters in volleyball, she has three in swimming and four in track and field.
She competed at the New Mexico swimming state championships for the first time as an eighth grader, placing in the top-15 in her four events, including two top-five finishes. She also went to state for swimming as a freshman and sophomore, placing in the top-15 in all four of her events each year.
In track and field, House is a two-time state champion in the high jump and she and the Storm track and field team won the team state championship last spring.
The future Lobo played with fellow signee Warren on the USA Junior National Women's Training Team last summer. House has also played club volleyball with New Mexico Juniors, winning a regional championship and competing at the national level.
House said she grew up wanting to be part of the Lobo volleyball program.
"I've always dreamed of playing on Johnson Center court and being able to wear the school colors, knowing the city is behind you and supporting you," House said. "The girls are not only incredible athletes and volleyball players and athletes, but seem to be great girls to call family. College is a whole new ball game and UNM seems like the best place for me to chase my dreams, get an education and grow as a person and a volleyball player. I cannot wait to be a Lobo."
"This is the best recruiting class we've had here and probably the best recruiting class to come out of the state of New Mexico. They are the three premiere high school volleyball players in the state this year and all three of them are ranked among the top 200 recruits in country, which is incredible."
Head coach Jeff Nelson
Sours is a 6-foot-2 outside hitter from Tatum High School in Tatum, N.M., who is a three-time high school state champion in volleyball and was named the 1A Volleyball Player of the Year as a freshman, sophomore and junior. She could earn the honor for the fourth time this week. She is also a three-time All-State outside hitter and All-State setter.
Sours and the Coyotes, under the direction of coach Mike Majors, won their fifth-consecutive District 8-1A title last week, and will make a run for their fourth-consecutive state championship this weekend.
A five-year letterwinner in volleyball, basketball and track and field, Sours has led her high school basketball team to three-straight District 8-1A titles and back-to-back State 1A Runner-Up finishes while earning All-State honors in hoops as a sophomore and junior.
She has also competed at the high school state track and field championships every year since she was an eighth grader, earning second place in the high jump in 2011 and second place in the javelin throw in 2012. She won track and field titles last spring in the 800-meter relay and medley relay.
"She's a pretty special athlete," Nelson said of Sours. "Being from a small town and being a multi-sport athlete, Devanne hasn't had the same high-level volleyball experiences as Cassie and Julia, but she is a very gifted athlete. Every thing she does, she does well."
Sours has been recognized as being in the top three in her class for the last two years and is a member of National Honors Society. In addition to her commitment to academics and sports, Sours is a member of student council and is a People to People Student Ambassador.
"Devanne could probably play any position -- even middle -- that we asked her to," Nelson said.
Said Sours of her decision to sign with the Lobos: "I chose UNM because it was a great atmosphere. Everyone welcomed me and I felt like I fit in. After being offered a scholarship, I pretty much had my heart set. Once I met the team, there was no doubt in my mind that UNM is where I wanted to play volleyball."
Warren comes to UNM from La Cueva High School in Albuquerque where she and the Bears, under coach Gregg Nunley, are three-time District 2-5A champions and finished Runner-Up at the state tournament in 2009.
The 6-foot outside hitter was named to the 2012-13 Under Armour Girls' High School All-America second team on Wednesday as announced by the American Volleyball Coaches' Association.
Heading into this weekend's state tournament, Warren has impressive career stats: 1,472 kills, 835 digs, 252 blocks, 225 assists, 155 ace serves and a .92 serving percentage.
Warren was named the 2011 Albuquerque Metro Player of the Year and the 2011-12 New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year for volleyball. The four-year letterwinner and three-time team captain was All-State first team, All-District 2-5A first team and All-Metro first team as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
Warren was named to Prepvolleyball.com's Top-59 Freshmen list in 2009 and to the site's Top-50 Junior Recruits list in 2011. She was also a 2011 Prepvolleyball.com National Junior of the Year Finalist and named to the site's Junior All-America team. As a senior, she is 69th on Prepvolleyball.com's Senior Ace Top 100 docket.
Like House, Warren was a member of the USA Junior National Women's Training Team and served as a team captain on one of the two teams. She was also a team captain of the 2011 USA National High Performance A-2 Team in 2011.
Warren has also played for New Mexico Juniors club team for five years, leading teams to three national qualifying bids to compete at the Junior Olympics.
"Julia could hit outside for us, she could libero for us, she could set for us," Nelson said. "She is that talented."
In addition to playing volleyball, Warren participates in a number of community service organizations, including La Cueva High School's Young Life Ministry, Best Buddies Program and Student-Athlete Reading and Mentoring Program. She has also served as a Special Olympics volunteer.
Warren had a heap of other schools recruiting her: Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Texas, Pepperdine, Iowa State, Loyola Marymount, Missouri and Arizona, to name a few. Staying close to home and committing to a program she had grown up watching was the best choice for Warren.
"I decided to go to UNM because I felt that I was destined to be a Lobo," Warren said. "I was a ball girl when I was younger, and I grew up watching Lobo volleyball. I always wanted to stay home and give back. I want to give back to everyone who helped me become the person, and volleyball player I am today. I have always wanted to be a mentor to all the little girls who want to play volleyball in New Mexico.
"The University of New Meixco is also a very good university, and has my intended major. I am very excited, and blessed to become a Lobo next year."
Nelson notes the significance of all three early signees hailing from New Mexico: "It's great for us and it's great for the community to see that we're trying to keep the best kids here.
"When we starting building this program back up back in 2007, one of our goals was that kids would grow up with the program being good and them wanting to be a part of it. This class is a product of that goal. We're seeing the fruit of our labor in that the young kids coming up see UNM as a good option and they want to become a Lobo."
**The Lobos host Nevada tomorrow at 7 p.m. MT and San Diego State on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. MT for their final home matches of the season.