For every coach in his initial years in a program, the first few years of recruiting are something special. It is a time when the program starts to take on the face of the new coach and the direction that coach wants to take his team. With Coach Blanken's first real opportunity to recruit, he's found 5 quality players to help take his team to a new level of play.
To help get immediate results, Blanken is bringing in two players with NCAA experience. From Division One Oregon State, Tami Brown will help in the Middle. From Division II Cal State San Bernadino Rachel Taylor will bring depth to the Outside.
Brown, who will also play basketball for the Mustangs, earned a wealth of awards in several sports during her years at Sheldon High School. She was a McDonald's All American Nominee 2009 (Basketball), the KMTR Prep Athlete of the week Spring 2009, a 1st Team All-Conference Selection in 2008 (Volleyball), a 2nd Team All-State Selection 2008 (Volleyball), a 1st Team All -League Catcher 2008 & 2009 (Softball), League Honorable Mention 2007 (Basketball), and 2nd Team All-League 2008 (Basketball). Brown then went on to Oregon State University where she played volleyball for two years and added basketball in her second year. While a Beaver, Brown earned 2nd Team All Academic PAC-10 selection 2010 (Volleyball) and Honorable Mention All Academic PAC-10 selection 2011 (Basketball).
The multi-sport talent said, "I am more than excited to be a part of the Master's College so that I can spend time and build relationships with people that are here to glorify God on the court, in the classroom and in all that they do."
Coach Blanken is excited to have a player like Brown on his squad in the fall, "Tami has played with and against the best athletes in the nation so naturally I'm looking forward to seeing her compete. I'm also excited about her desire to support her teammates."
Rachel Taylor is another local talent- one that Coach Blanken is very familiar with. Before her time at CSUSB she played four years of volleyball at Village Christian High School in Sun Valley, Calif., where Blanken coached before coming to TMC. Taylor a 2009 graduate, had a fantastic career in her time at Village. In her junior year she averagedn 4.6 kills per set on .342 hitting with 48 service aces, 34 blocks and 124 digs and was the 2007 CIF Southern Section Division III Player of the Year, leading her team to 29 wins at the section championship. Her senior year she improved to 4.9 kills per set on .395 hitting with 37 aces and 50 blocks and was named to the All-Southern Section first team, leading her team to 31 wins and the section semifinals.
After her stunning high school career she went on to CSUSM where she played in 16 matches (20 sets), averaged 1.05 kills per set (21 kills), notched 21 digs and four blocks, ripped four kills against Cal State Dominguez Hills, and posted two blocks in the first match of the season against Western Washington.
Blanken remarked, "Having coached Rachel in the past, I am ecstatic at having a competitive player with an intense work ethic joining our ranks. Rachel will immediately bring experience and high level volleyball to our program."
The second year coach is also adding three true freshmen to the mix in the likes of Stacey Jones, Olivia Gwinn, and Alyssa Gergins.
Stacey Jones joins the Mustangs from the desert of Phoenix, Arizona. The incoming freshman played for Valley Christian High School as well as with the Arizona East Valley Juniors Mizuno 18's. Jones helped her team to 1st in their division and 9th overall in the Arizona Region USA Volleyball Open Tournament in January, then helped her team to 3rd overall and 1st in their division at the AZ Region USA VB Open Tournament last March. She went on to help her team to two more top ten finishes in club competitive tournaments which fielded as many as 86 teams. Coach Blanken commented on Stacey saying,"Stacey is an athletic specimen. She is explosive, loves to compete and has a great sense of humor which is always appreciated."
Jones said of her decision,"I chose TMC because of the quality of the academics, volleyball program and the fact that spiritual growth is the top priority. I also chose TMC because of the great location in Southern California, close to where my brother lives-and because of the beach…"
Alyssa Gergins will join the Mustangs from Murrieta, CA where she played at Murrieta Valley High School. While there, Gergins helped her team become the Southwestern League Champions in 2009. Then in 2010 she lead the Southwestern league for average assists per game which was 8.9, helped her team to the CIF Quarterfinals, was named 1st Team All League and 2nd Team All Valley. Murrieta Valley High School recognized her as the Volleyball Team's Most Improved Player, Fall Spirit of Sport, as well as a Scholar Athlete for 3 years. Alyssa also played for the 951 Elite for 4 years.
Coach Blanken said, "Alyssa will have an immediate impact on our team as she brings her experience running an offense for a high level club team. We are excited to see her take the reins of this potent offense.
Alyssa added, " I chose TMC because I love the environment there, I want to learn more about my Lord and Savior and grow closer to him, and I really like Coach Blanken's philosophy on coaching and the girls on the team!"
Helping the Mustangs at the DS spot will be Olivia Gwinn, a local product. Gwinn played for Santa Clarita Christian School where she was a swing player sophomore year for JV and Varsity then finished with two years on Varsity. In her Sophomore year she was named her team's Most Valuable player. Gwinn is eager to join TMC, "For as long as I can remember I have been attending Masters College sporting events and couldn't wait to go to school there one day. It was important to me to attend a Christian College where the Word of God is evident in the lives of the Faculty and Professors as well as the students. The Masters College was the perfect place and i'm excited to be attending in the fall."
Coach Blanken sees that Olivia can bring many intangibles to his team, "Olivia brings poise and patience to our 2011 squad. In addition to her defensive contributions, Olivia will contribute to our teams chemistry and help to build a culture of success for years to come.