RICHMOND, Va. –Virginia Commonwealth University bolstered its 2012 volleyball team Thursday with the addition of four recruits, Head Coach James Finley announced.
Finley and his staff practically traveled to all four corners of the globe to sign freshmen Martina Samadan (Split, Croatia), Samantha "Sami" Blaze (Fort Myers, Fla.), Megan Stumpf (Federal Way, Washington) and Romana Kriskova (Bratislava, Slovakia), who will join early signee Saige Gallop (San Diego, Calif.) in Richmond this fall.
Martina Samadan (Mar-TEE-na Sha-MA-dahn) has signed with the Rams after a successful year in which she led her club team to a runner-up finish at the Croatian Championships. A 6-foot-4 middle blocker, Samadan will immediately provide an imposing presence up front for VCU. In addition to club play, Samadan also participates on the Croatian Junior National Team and the Junior National Beach squad.
"She's an impressive athlete," Finley said. "For being a tall kid, she's a really good all-around volleyball player. She's a very powerful offensive player and a great defensive player."
Samantha "Sami" Blaze is a 5-foot-5 libero and setter who starred at Canterbury School in Fort Myers, as well as for the Fort Myers Fusion club team. Blaze helped Canterbury to a pair of district championships, as well as two regional semifinal appearances, and set a school record for assists. As a junior she was named District 2A-12 Player of the Year.
"Sami is a real competitor. She's got really good ball control and is a quick player with good technique," said Finley. "She has a real desire to win and has filled a number of roles to help her team be successful."
In addition to strengthening VCU's setting corps, Blaze will add to an experienced back row.
Megan Stumpf joins the Rams after a standout career at Beamer High School and with KJ Volleyball Club. A 6-foot-4 middle blocker and right side hitter, Stumpf was named the top blocker in the South Puget Sound League's 4A South division.
"She's a really strong kid that is also very versatile," commented Finley. "She's got a block and good shot selection. She hits really well around the block. She's also a very mature kid."
Stumpf has racked up numerous academic awards and citations and says she plans to become a research oncologist focusing on alternative treatment methods for Lymphocytic Leukemia.
Romana Kriskova (Krish-Ko-VA) is a 6-foot-3 outside and right side hitter who has played for both the Slovakian Junior National Team, as well as the Senior National squad. In 2011, she led her club team to the Slovakian Championship match.
"Romana caught our eye because she's a very efficient player and is skilled at her position," Finley said. "She plays all six rotations and can attack the ball from the front or back row. She's good at setting the block and plays with a lot of intensity."
Samadan, Gallop, Blaze, Stumpf and Kriskova join seven returning letterwinners for the Rams in 2012, including All-CAA Second Team pick Kristin Boyd (Wilmington, N.C.) and CAA All-Rookie Team selection Cecilia Aragao (Recife, Brazil).
VCU finished 17-17 last year and reached the CAA Championship Match for the fourth time in seven seasons under Finley. The Rams will be looking to make an immediate impression in their first season in the Atlantic 10 Conference in 2012.