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Wisconsin volleyball recruiting: UW signs three new players on Wednesday

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The three players in Kelly Sheffield’s 2021 class are from far away places like Poland, Canada and, uh, Utah.

2019 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

After finishing with the No. 4 ranked recruiting class in 2020, the Wisconsin Badgers volleyball team inked three new names for the class of 2021, this time with an international flair.

The top-ranked Badgers will add Lauren Jardine, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter from Highland, Utah; Julia Orzoł, a 6-0 outside hitter from Osztyn, Poland and Anna Smrek, a 6-foot-8 middle blocker from Welland, Ontario, Canada.

Head coach Kelly Sheffield said he was “fired up” for the quality of the class and thinks they’ll be set up well to succeed for the Badgers.

“There’s a lot of talent in this class, with players that have the potential to be really good at this level,” Sheffield said. “All three of them are driven to be the best players they can be and have all made decisions and sacrifices along the way to help them get where they want to go in this sport. They are really good kids, and are students that have done really well in the classroom.”

Here’s a look at all the future Badgers in this class:

Lauren Jardine
6-foot-2 – Outside Hitter
Highland, Utah/Lone Peak High School: Coach Reed Carlson
Club V Volleyball: Coach Reed Carlson

The Utah native earned all kinds of accolades during her prep and AAU career. Jardine — the 15th best player in the country according to PrepVolleyball — was named a 2020 Under Armour First-Team All-American and 2020 AAU All-American.

Not only has Jardine won the individual accolades, but she helped lead Lone Peak High School to win the 6A Utah state title in 2020 as well as earning a second place finish with her AAU team.

From the highlight clip posted with her announcement, Jardine can jump out the gym and has incredible arm strength. The right-hander can really kill the ball from the left side similar to outside hitters Molly Haggerty and Grace Loberg. Kelly Sheffield feels like she has a chance to be in that company.

“She has the potential to be an elite attacker for us,” Sheffield said. “She gets off the floor quick and has a whip for an arm. She’s probably one of the better leapers we’ve brought in since we’ve been here.”

Julia Orzol
6-foot-0 – Outside Hitter
Olsztyn, Poland/Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace Mistrzostwa Sportowego
GKS Wiezyca 2011 Stezyca: Coach Dawid Michor

Another outside hitter, Julia Orzoł (pronounced like Yoo-lia Or-zoal) has earned a lot of experience and titles in her native country of Poland.

The native of Osztyn — a city in the north eastern part of Poland that is apparently one of the happiest cities in the country — has had a lot to be happy in her career, winning MVP and first place in the 2019 Polish U19 Championships, MVP and first place in the 2018 Polish U17 Championships and the 2020 Polish Junior Vice Championship.

A member of the Polish Youth National Team, Orzoł was also named best spiker of the 2020 Polish U19 Championships, and it pops out in her highlight videos. Orzoł also has a wicked serve and showed some versatility defending on the backline too.

Sheffield said Orzoł played against the Badgers in 2019 during their spring tour, and he said that she was a complete player that played against a lot of good competition.

“She can attack with velocity from the front or back court on either pin,” Sheffield said. “She is a really good passer, especially when she is going from pass to attack. And she has potential to be a point scorer from behind the service line.”

Orzoł also adds to UW’s European contingent, after libero Giorgia Chivtia joined the Badgers from Wichita State in the summer.

Anna Smrek
6-foot-8 – Middle Blocker
Welland, Ontario/Notre Dame High School
Defensa Volleyball Club: Coaches Rob Fernly and Kevin Horne

With the two outside hitters, Wisconsin added an interior force in Canadian middle blocker Anna Smrek.

The Welland, Ontario native played for the Canadian Youth National Team from 2018-2020 and won the silver medal at 2018 NORCECA Championship in Honduras. She also competed in the 2019 World Under-18 Championship

At 6-foot-8, Smrek has the same height as current middle blocker Dana Rettke, and they seem to play in a similar mold. Smrek can attack the ball from all across the front line and has really quick feet despite her towering height.

Head coach Kelly Sheffield certainly hopes that she follows that line of middle blockers and is intrigued by her size and drive.

“Anna has the potential to be one of the next great middles that have come through here,” Sheffield said. “At just over 6-foot-8 and touching close to 11 feet, it’s certainly a combination that is intriguing and exciting. She is good off of one foot or two, and can get on the ball in a hurry. She puts up a really big block, and goes and gets the ball. I love her eagerness to learn and get better.”