CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard women's volleyball head coach, Jennifer Weiss, announced the incoming Class of 2022 today. The five-member freshmen class consists of: Bella Almanza, Julia Beckmann, Kate Condra, Jaimie Rao and Grace Varsames.
The incoming freshmen will join 12 returning letterwinners, including senior co-captain and one of the Crimson's leading scorers, Christina Cornelius. The Class of 2022 hails from four states and one Canadian province.
Bella Almanza | Setter/Outside Hitter | 6-1 | Austin, Texas | St. Stephen's Episcopal School
Four-year letterwinner in volleyball, one-year in basketball at St. Stephen's … Elected captain for the 2017 and 2018 seasons … Four-time qualifier for SPC Tournament (2014-17) … SPC volleyball champion (2014) … Received All-SPC first team honors (2015-17) … Named MVP at St. Mary's Hall Volleyball Invitational (2017) … Received fourth-team High School Academic All-American team honors (2017) … Played for Austin Junior Volleyball club team … Five-time qualifier for Girls USA Junior National Volleyball Championship, finishing as silver medalist in 2017 … Volunteered for Play for the Cure and Haiti Club … Grandfather, Albert, played basketball at UT-Austin, was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA and was a member of the 1960 and 1964 Olympic Men's Basketball team … Father, Boone, played basketball at Houston Baptist … Mother, Erin, played basketball at the University of Loyola Chicago … Brother, Albert, plays basketball at Sam Houston State … Sister, Madalena, plays club volleyball at the University of Texas.
Coach Weiss on Bella: "Bella comes from one of the top club teams in Texas and has played on this team for many years. She has been setting for her club team and hitting for her high school team. She is a natural athlete and competitor and will bring a strong work ethic to our gym. I am excited to see her develop as a setter and a hitter and I know she will be an impact upon her arrival. An accomplished basketball player Bella has the jump and quick instinct we will need in our setter position in order to run our offense. I am excited for her to set at the college level and to grow with the game. Bella will fit right into our Harvard community and she knows what it takes to succeed. "
Julia Beckmann | Outside Attacker | 6-2 | Garden City, N.Y. | Garden City
Six-year letterwinner at Garden City HS … Elected captain for the 2015-17 seasons … Named Garden City HS Most Outstanding Player for the 2014-17 seasons … Newsday Nassau Country Player of the Year (2017) … Lynne Rutkowski award recipient (2017) … Nassau County All-County (2014-17) … Newsday Top 25 Players to Watch (2016, 2017) … Selected for USA High Performance Volleyball (2011-16) … Selected for USA Beach Volleyball High Performance Pipeline (2013-15) … Competed in Junior National Volleyball Championships (2013-17) … Played for Club Ace Long Island club team … National Honor Society … Spanish National Honor Society … Volunteered for the Lutheran Church of Resurrection … Father, swam at Penn.
Coach Weiss on Julia: "Julia has played indoor and sand most of her career. The beach training has been a great addition to her overall training. She has a powerful arm swing and can move the ball around on offense. Her ability to block on either pin will add to our defensive systems. She has trained at the Olympic Training Center for three seasons as a part of the High-Performance A1/A2 beach programs. She has potential to be an impact to our offensive game and has great strength. I am excited to see her develop in the college game and I know she will bring healthy competition to our practices and make our team better."
Kate Condra | Outside Hitter | 6-0 | Fletcher, N.C. | Asheville Christian Academy
Five-year letterwinner in volleyball, two-year in swim and two-year in track and field … Elected captain for two years at Asheville Christian … Served as captain for three years of Xcel Volleyball Performance club team … NCISAA 2A All-State Team (2015-17) … NCISAA Conference Player of the Year (2016-17) … NCSAA second team All-American (2016, 2017) … NCISAA All-Conference team (2014-17) … NCISAA 2A State Champions (2014, 2017) … MAAC Female Player of the Year finalist (2017-18) … MAAC WNC Female Team of the Year (2017-18) … National Honor Society … Participated in Habitat for Humanity … Mother, Kellie, ran cross-country and track and field at East Tennessee State.
Coach Weiss on Kate: "Kate is an exceptional athlete and has been two-time NCISAA Conference Player of the Year. She is a six rotation outside attacker and has an aggressive jump serve. She has participated in track and field and was All-Conference in the triple jump. Kate has led her club team for the past three seasons with not only her ball control, but her leadership. She keeps her calm when on court and makes those around her better. Her defensive movement and passing in the backcourt will add to our overall game and success in running our offensive systems."
Jaimie Rao | Right Side Attacker | 6-3 | Toronto, Canada | Harvard-Westlake School/Havergal College
Named to the varsity volleyball first team All-Mission League (2017) … Selected to the Lakewood Invitational Volleyball Tournament All-Tournament team (2017) … Finished fifth at USAV Nationals (2018) … Voted All-Star of the London SuperVolley Tournament (2015) … Tabbed MVP of the Mowat Invitational Volleyball Tournament (2015) … Three-time league champion at Havergal College (2014-16) … Division I Provincial champion at Havergal (2016) … Invited to Junior Team Canada ID Camp (2016) … Member of Team Ontario and Youth Team Canada (2015) … Played for Phoenix Volleyball club team … Volunteer volleyball coach (2015-18) … Received Academic Honors with Distinction at Havergal (2009-17).
Coach Weiss on Jaimie: "Jaimie is a 6-3 lefty - right side attacker and has just made a move to one of the top club teams in California. Raised in Canada Jaimie was an impact player at Havergal College. Her senior season she played at Harvard-Westlake school in California. Jaimie is the kind of player that can adapt and can accept various roles. She approached this move with a positive attitude and has taken her own game to the next level. She has gained strength over this past season and hits a nice angle and line shot from the right side. I am very excited to have her a part of our volleyball family and look forward to working with her."
Grace Varsames | Setter | 5-9 | Tampa, Fla. | Berkeley Prep
Four-year starter at Berkeley Prep … All-City first team selection (2017) … All-Country Honorable Mention (2014, 2016) … Received Coach's Award (2015) … State champion (2017) … Four-time district champion (2014-17) … Two-time regional champion (2015, 2017) … State semi-finalist (2015) … Played for Tampa Bay One and OTVA club teams … National Honor Society … Participated in Diversity club … Father, Lou, played football at Harvard.
Coach Weiss on Grace: "Grace has been a key contributor at one of the best volleyball programs in the state of Florida. She most recently set for Berkeley Prep and lead her team to a state title. As a starting setter, she is quick and has a consistent release. With her accurate placement I know that she will add to our offense upon arrival. I am excited to have her join us and look forward to seeing her grow in the college game. Grace has an aggressive jump serve and nice arm swing with some strength. I look forward to having her in the gym and I know she will be an asset to our Harvard volleyball family."