PEORIA, Ill. -- The Bradley volleyball team received five commitments for the 2012 freshman class with BU head coach Jenny Maurer announcing 6-1 outside hitter Kristi Chynoweth (Parkland, Fla./North Broward Prep), 6-3 middle blocker Cordelia Murphy (Marseilles, Ill./Marquette Academy), 5-8 setter/defensive specialist Jessica Teel (San Antonio, Texas/Claudia Taylor Johnson) and 6-1 outside hitter Jessie Tulacka (Westmont, Ill./Downers Grove North) each signing National Letters of Intent.
In addition, the Braves will also welcome 5-7 defensive specialist Lea Sack (Lincoln, Neb./Pius X) to the team for the 2012 season.
"We are very excited to welcome this recruiting class to The Hilltop," said Maurer. "Not only do we expect each of them to immediately raise our level of competitiveness; but more importantly, they are first-rate individuals who will be great representatives of the mission of Bradley University, our Athletic Department and our team."
One of three newcomers named to the Under Armour High School All-American watch list, Chynoweth finished her prep career as a three-time all-county selection. A team captain as a senior, she was MVP of the Florida Christian Tournament and was named to the 2011 Miami Herald All Broward County All-Star Team.
This fall, Chynoweth paced North Broward in kills with a 3.4 kills-per-set average and also averaged 0.60 aces per set. As a junior, she helped the Eagles to a second-place state finish in addition to district and regional titles. A three-time participant at the junior olympics with her club team, she helped her squad to a fifth-place finish in the AAU Open Division in 2010. Chynoweth has earned a spot on the Academic Honor Roll each of her three years and boasts a 3.9 grade point average. She intends to major in graphic design.
"We have watched Kristi improve significantly throughout the recruiting process and believe her best days are ahead of her," Maurer stated. "With increased strength and her tenacious mindset to become a more complete player, Kristi's ceiling just keeps raising. We love her versatility as an attacker/blocker at any position along the net and we look forward to her continuing to develop her back row skills. Her jump serve and back-row attack could be huge assets for our program."
Murphy is a two-sport standout at Marquette, lettering in both volleyball and basketball. She tallied over 750 kills and 300 blocks during her prep career and helped the Lady Crusaders to four conference titles, two regional championships and an IHSA Elite Eight appearance as a junior. Murphy is a two-time all-area selection in volleyball and was named her team's MVP each of the last two years.
On the basketball court, Murphy helped Marquette to an IHSA regional title in 2009-10 and is a three-time all-area pick. She also qualified for state in the shot put as a sophomore in 2010. She plans to enroll in Bradley's award-winning Academic Exploration Program.
"Cordy's physical size, along with her experience as a multi-sport athlete, stood out to us during the recruiting process," added Maurer. "She will need to adapt to the speed of the college game, but has the right attitude and openness to be pushed beyond her comfort zone and will no doubt enhance team chemistry with her infectious personality. Early training will be focused in the middle, though she may see some time on the right side."
Tulacka joined Chynoweth on the Under Armour High School All-American watch list prior to her senior year and was a four-year starter for the Trojans. She led her prep team in kills, blocks and aces, while ranking second on the squad in digs and assists this past fall.
A two-year captain, Tulacka helped Downers Grove North to regional titles both her sophomore (2009) and senior (2011) seasons and earned all-tournament honors at the Downers Grove North and Waubonsi Valley Invites as a senior. She was named to the Chicago Sportstown All-Star Volleyball team following her senior year and also took home honorable mention all-state honors from the Chicago Tribune. Selected as one of the top 50 players by the Chicago Sun-Times, Tulacka also garnered all-state special mention from the News-Gazette and DuPage County all-area honors. She will enroll in Bradley's award-winning Academic Exploration Program.
"When Jessie realizes how good she can be, watch out," said Maurer. "Playing with 1st Alliance's top team in her age group for the last several years has improved her game by leaps and bounds. Jessie is an offensive threat at both pins having developed a more sophisticated arsenal of shots. We look to continue developing her scorer's mentality at this level, while also learning to become a shut-down blocker."
Sack was also on the Under Armour High School All-American watch list after helping lead the Thunderbolts to a Class B state championship this fall and top-four state finishes in each of her final three years at the prep level. She paced her team in digs each of the last two years, while garnering multiple all-state honors, including First-Team Class B all-state honors from the Omaha World Herald this fall.
An academic all-state honoree as a senior, Sack finished the year with 460 digs, 74 assists and 46 aces in addition to earning a spot in the annual Nebraska All-Star match this summer. As a junior, she earned honorable mention all-state honors after recording more than 400 digs. Sack also lettered in basketball and is tied atop her graduating class of 236 with a 4.0 grade point average. She plans to major in health science.
"We are thrilled to have a second Lincoln, Neb., product on our team and we have equally high expectations for Lea," Maurer added. "Having been trained at an extremely high level year round at Pius X and her club, Nebraska Juniors, she should be unfazed by the speed of the college game and we believe could see court time very early in her career. She has a great deal of experience defending against teammates who will also be moving onto Division I schools and feel she will adapt to the college game quickly."
Teel led the greater San Antonio area in assists this fall and helped Johnson to a state semifinal appearance in Class 5A. A team captain and selected as the squad's MVP, she helped the Jaguars to their first district title and a 44-7 record in her final prep season. Teel was selected for the Texas Senior All-Star Game and was a Class 5A all-state selection by several outlets as a senior. She also earned unanimous all-district honors.
As a junior, Teel was a second-team all-district pick, while helping her team to its first state playoff appearance in school history. She was named to the San Antonio Express-News "Super Team" as a senior. Teel earned second-team Class 2A all-state honors and helped power Bracken Christian School to a state championship as a freshman in 2008. After transferring to Johnson for her sophomore year, she played with the junior varsity team during the 2009 season due to transfer rules. Teel plans to major in elementary education.
"Unlike her soft-spoken, gentile demeanor off the court, Jessica is a fierce, focused competitor on the floor, which immediately caught our eye," stated Maurer. "Quick-footed with excellent all-around skills, she possesses leadership and toughness to run a fast-tempo offense and we love the creativity her presence brings in the gym."