McKenkree finishes first recruiting class

News-DemocratAugust 14, 2013 

— McKendree University men's volleyball coach Nickie Sanlin has rounded out her first recruiting class for the Bearcats' new men's volleyball program by signing six more players for the 2014 season.

Three of the latest signees are local products -- Jordin Ray, of Edwardsville; Josh Thum, of St. Louis; and Alexander Steinmeyer, of Oakville, Mo.

Joining the trio will be Maalik Walker of Shorewood, Ill.; James Hill of Plainfield, Ill.; and Kristian Gallardo of Hemet, Calif. Counting the 10 student-athletes who signed earlier in the summer with the program, McKendree will have 16 players on its inaugural roster.

"I am very pleased with the level of talent that these student-athletes will be bringing into the gym," said Sanlin. "Rounding out this inaugural class, they are excited to get in the gym and start laying the foundation of the Bearcat men's volleyball program. Each of these young men are willing to accept the challenge of being pioneers and as a coaching staff we couldn't have asked for better young student-athletes to take this journey with. They understand the beginning starts as soon as they arrive on campus and know that the road to success takes hard work and perseverance."

The McKendree University men's volleyball team will make its debut on Saturday, Jan.25 with a tri-match at Dominican University near Chicago. McKendree will host its first-ever men's volleyball home match Jan. 28 against Missouri Baptist University. First serve will be at 7 p.m. in the Harry M. Statham Sports Center.

Here's a look at the signees:

Kristian Gallardo (Hometown: Hemet, Calif.)

Libero - Hemet High School, Hemet, Calif.

Collected 180 digs, 46 assists and 17 kills in injury-shortened senior season ... posted 256 kills and 243 digs as a junior for the Bulldogs ... set school record with 44 digs in a match ... earned first-team All-Conference honors twice during career ... helped team to CIF semifinals as a senior ... also served as team captain...was a two-time Scholar-Athlete for Hemet.

James Hill (Hometown: Plainfield )

Outside Hitter - Plainfield South High School, Plainfield.

Registered 190 kills as a senior at Plainfield South High School ... helped lead the Cougars to a school-best record as a junior ... was a member of the High Honor Roll at Plainfield South.

Jordin Ray (Hometown: Edwardsville)

Middle Blocker - Edwardsville High School, Edwardsville.

Posted 28 blocks, including nine solos, as a senior at Edwardsville ... was second on team in blocks ... also added 89 kills, which was fourth on squad ... was a two-time All-Conference honoree for the Tigers ... served as team captain as a senior ... led Edwardsville to consecutive regional championships as a junior and senior.

Alexander Steinmeyer (Hometown: Oakville, Mo.)

Outside Hitter - Oakville High School, Oakville.

Had 143 kills as a senior at Oakville ... was second on team in attacks ... added 72 digs and 14 service aces for the Tigers.

Josh Thum (Hometown: St. Louis)

Outside Hitter - St. John Vianney High School, St. Louis.

Notched 145 kills, 85 digs and 21 service aces as a senior for St. John Vianney High School ... helped lead the Golden Griffins to the 2013 Missouri Class 3 state championship ... had five kills in the title match ... was also part of Vianney's state championship team in 2011 ... was a three-year varsity performer for Vianney.

Maalik Walker (Hometown: Shorewood, Ill.)

Middle Blocker - Minooka High School, Minooka.

Earned two varsity letters during career at Minooka High School ... collected 137 kills and 95 blocks as a senior for the Indians ... helped lead Minooka to a fourth-place finish in the IHSA state tournament ... earned All-Conference honors as a junior and senior ... grabbed All-Area honors as a senior...selected to play in the Illinois High School Boys Volleyball All-Star Game following senior season ... named to the All-Tournament teams at Lincoln-Way East in 2013 and Wheaton Warrenville South in 2012 ... helped Minooka to a 30-match winning streak in 2012.

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