NJCAA All-American Gabriella Strazzeri has signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her volleyball and academic careers at Youngstown State next season, YSU head coach Mark Hardaway announced on Monday. The Penguins also officially welcomed walk-on commitments Carla Relitz and Reis Zandier to the program.
Strazzeri is a 6-foot left-side hitter from Brazil who led NJCAA Division I in kills and points last season at Iowa Western Community College. Relitz is a right-side hitter from Medina, Ohio, and Reis Zandier is a defensive specialist from Jefferson Hills, Pa., near Pittsburgh.
Strazzeri was among the most productive offensive players in the country in 2015 as she was named an NJCAA First-Team All-American as a sophomore at Iowa Western CC. She led the Reivers to a seventh-place finish in the national tournament while pacing the country with 704 kills and 774.5 points. Strazzeri also ranked 15th nationally with 600 digs, and she posted a .263 attack percentage and averages of 3.89 kills and 3.31 digs. A two-time academic all-region honoree, the native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, averaged 2.30 kills and 2.83 digs as a freshman. Strazzeri will have two years of eligibility remaining at Youngstown State.
"We're really excited to have a six-rotation player of Gabi's caliber join the program," Hardaway said. "Gabi brings a lot of championship experience with her. She's definitely used to carrying a big load, and that's something we were looking for. We expect her to contribute right away. Academically, she's very driven, so we know she's going to be a very strong student as well."
Relitz was a two-year letterwinner as a right-side hitter at Medina High School. She posted a .338 hitting percentage, 1.3 blocks per set and 3.8 digs per set as a senior as she was named honorable mention all-district. She was also named to the district's all-academic team and has been on the honor roll all four years of her career.
"Carla has great club experience and brings good athleticism and size on the right side," Hardaway said. "We haven't had a left-handed player on our team, and that's something we really like about her. It's a big plus for us to have someone who has trained to be a true right-side. She's really excited about being a Penguin."
Zandier was a two-year letterwinner at Thomas Jefferson High School as a libero. She was named first-team all-section as a junior and missed her senior year because of an injury. Zandier also competed in track and field, and she is a member of the National Honor Society.
"Reis is coming into what is probably our deepest position, but we feel like she can develop and be a solid addition to our team," Hardaway said. "She has good ball control, and she has the desire to be good. We've turned down plenty of defensive players who have wanted to walk on before, so it says a lot about Reis' talent and potential that she's joining us. She's going into the honors program, so she's very strong and driven academically. She'll add a lot to the team on and off the court."
Strazzeri, Relitz and Zandier will join fall signees Valor Haggerty and Erin Kalahar as additions to the 2016 team.