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Huskers Sign Six in Top-Ranked Recruiting Class



 Lincoln, Neb. — The Nebraska volleyball program and Head Coach John Cook announced the 2021 signing class on Wednesday. The Huskers’ class is ranked No. 1 by PrepVolleyball.com and all six signees are ranked in the top 70 nationally by the site. The stacked class includes five of the top 16, four of the top 10 and all of the top three recruits. Nebraska is the only school that is expected to sign more than two top-16 recruits this signing period, according to PrepVolleyball.com. The class also includes three Nebraska natives, something Cook boasted about. 
 
“The state of Nebraska produces some of the best volleyball talent in the country,” Cook said. “We are committed to keeping the top kids here to play at home.”
 
Outside hitter Ally Batenhorst (Houston, Texas), middle blocker Rylee Gray (Elkhorn, Neb.), outside hitter Lindsay Krause (Papillion, Neb.), outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein (Waverly, Neb.), setter Kennedi Orr (Eagan, Minn.) and defensive specialist/libero Lexi Rodriguez (Sterling, Ill.) make up this year’s signing class.
 
“In the summer of 2017, we decided to run a camp and call it the Dream Team Camp,” Cook said. “We invited our top recruits in the class of 2021. Well, a little over three years later, their signing day has now arrived. All of them have taken different paths to get to this point and some verbally committed at the camp or soon after. The three days of camp were awesome. Bonds were formed and intensity was high. We had a blast coaching the kids at the camp. We have enjoyed watching their development over the last three years and getting to know them as student-athletes.
 
“Because of their accomplishments on the national and world stage, the expectations will be very high, but that is why you go to Nebraska. When they start in 2021, they will be freshmen, figuring out how to be away from home, adjust to college life and Husker volleyball.  We will make sure they ‘Dream Big’ and understand the song lyrics, ‘To whom much is given, much is tested.’
 
“We look forward to getting them all on campus and start building a team that embraces working together and building ultimate trust.  At Nebraska we get everybody’s best shot and that is why we say, ‘the only easy day was yesterday.’
 
“Husker Nation will have fun following the journey of this large recruiting class.  They are talented, passionate and driven to excel on and off the court.”
 
Batenhorst is ranked the No. 3 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com and the No. 2 outside hitter. The Houston, Texas, native has played four varsity seasons for Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas. 
 
To date, Batenhorst has played in 400 career sets. She has recorded 2,143 kills, 242 blocks, 1,232 digs and 160 aces. As a senior, she’s hitting .366 and is averaging 6.5 kills per set, which are both on pace for career-best totals. 
 

A two-time MaxPreps Underclass All-American and a first-team Under Armour All-American, Batenhorst was on the 2020 USA National Training Team. In 2019, she was named a PrepVolleyball.com All-American. In 2018, Batenhorst helped the USA 18U National Team win the gold medal at the NORCECA Volleyball Championships in Honduras. In 2017, Batenhorst was named PrepVolleyball.com’s National Freshman of the Year in addition to earning All-America accolades from the site. Batenhorst also ran track and won several awards in the high jump for Seven Lakes High School. Outside of athletics, she is a member of the National Honor Society and is a mentor for PAL (Peer Assistance & Leadership). In 2020, she earned academic all-state honors. Batenhorst is active in her community and has coached young athletes, volunteered at events through her church and has helped with hurricane Harvey and flood relief efforts.  
 
Batenhorst was born on July 26, 2002, in Omaha, Neb. She is the daughter of Kurt and Susan Batenhorst. Susan attended UNL and Kurt played basketball and ran track at Nebraska-Wesleyan. Batenhorst has two sisters, Casey and Danielle. Casey is a junior on the volleyball team at Seven Lakes High School, while Danielle plays volleyball for Gonzaga. 
 
Gray played four varsity seasons for Elkhorn South High School in Elkhorn, Neb., and advanced to the state tournament all four years. A middle blocker, Gray helped the Storm win the district title in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and the metro conference championship in 2019 and 2020. In 2020, Gray hit a career-best .442 and helped the Storm earn the No. 1 seed in the Class A State Tournament and win the state title after just two seasons in Class A.
 
The 6-4 standout was named to the all-metro team in 2018 and 2019. Gray also was an all-class pick as a sophomore and a junior, even with Elkhorn South’s move from Class B to Class A for the 2019 season. In the Storm’s first season in Class A, Gray hit .408 and averaged 3.3 kills per set. She also totaled 43 aces and 99 digs for Elkhorn South as a junior. 
 
Gray finished her career with 1,383 kills, 476 blocks and a hitting percentage of .423.  She played in 406 sets and also had 75 aces. 
 
Gray also played basketball and ran track for the Storm. Off the court, she is a member of the National Honor Society and earned academic all-state honors in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Gray is active in her church and has volunteered with Relay for Life since the age of 13. 
 
Gray was born on Sept. 22, 2002, in Omaha, Neb. She is the daughter of Scott and Deb Gray. She has one sister, Skylar. 
 
Krause is ranked the No. 2 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com. She played four seasons for Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, Neb. The outside hitter led the SkyHawks to four straight Class B state titles in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. 
 
The outside hitter was named the 2019-20 Nebraska Volleyball Gatorade Player of the Year after hitting .418 with 360 kills, 152 digs and 28 blocks as a junior in 2019. The three-time all-conference pick was named to the Omaha World Herald All-Nebraska First Team and the Lincoln Journal Star Super-State First Team in 2017, 2018 and 2019. 
 
Krause finished her career with 1,449 kills and 135 solo blocks in 338 sets played. Krause hit .411 which included a career-best .475 as a senior in 2020. 
 
Krause played club volleyball for Premier Nebraska and was a member of the 2019 USA 18U National Team that won the FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship in Egypt.
 
Krause also played basketball for Skutt and was an all-state honorable mention in 2018 and 2019. In the classroom, she earned academic all-state honors, academic all-conference honors and has been named to the Skutt Catholic Honor Roll. 
 
Krause was born on Dec. 11, 2002, in Omaha, Neb. She is the daughter of Pat Krause and JoAnna Draper. She has two brothers, Conner and Landon. 
 
Lauenstein (pronounced LAWN-steen) is ranked the No. 16 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com and is the No. 2 player in her class in the state of the Nebraska. An outside hitter, Lauenstein played three varsity seasons for Waverly High School in Waverly, Neb., and helped the Vikings reach the Class B State Tournament all three seasons. 
 
Lauenstein played 281 sets for the Vikings and finished with 1,366 career kills, 121 blocks, 740 digs and 87 aces, while hitting .338. As a junior in 2019, Lauenstein hit a career-best .407 and was named to the Class B All-Tournament Team at the state championships. Following her impressive season, she was named to the Lincoln Journal Star Super-State First Team. 
 
Lauenstein was a two-time Class B all-state pick, earning first-team honors as a junior in 2019 and second-team honors as a sophomore in 2018. She was named to the all-conference teams in 2018 and 2019. Lauenstein played club for VC Nebraska. 
 
Lauenstein also ran track for the Vikings. In the community, Lauenstein has volunteered with the Matt Talbott kitchen and with her high school team.
 
The daughter of Ryan and Carla Lauenstein, she was born on Sept. 24, 2002. She has one older brother, Tyler and two younger sisters, Hallie and Gracie.
 
Orr is ranked the No. 1 recruit in the nation. The Minnesota native has been the starting setter for Eagan High School since the end of her seventh-grade season. A two-time Minnesota Volleyball Gatorade Player of the Year, Orr led the Wildcats to five straight state championship matches, which included two state titles in 2015 and 2016. 
 
As a junior in 2019, Orr finished with 405 assists, 242 kills and 204 digs. The setter also recorded 43 blocks and 32 aces while hitting .414.  In 2018, Orr finished with 411 assists, 380 kills, 230 digs and 68 blocks. 
 
Orr has been a star on the international level as well. In 2019, she helped the USA 18U National Team win the FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championships in Egypt and was named the best setter at the event. In 2018, she helped Team USA win the gold medal at NORCECA in Honduras, while also being named the best setter at the event. Additionally, she was a member of the 2018 USA Volleyball Junior Olympics National Championship Team and was named the MVP. 
 
Off the field, Orr has volunteered with Spare Key, an organization that raises money for families with children in the hospital. 
 
Orr was born on Nov. 7, 2002, in Eagan, Minn. She is the daughter of Lorenzo and Gretchen Orr, and has one sister, Brie.  
 
Rodriguez is the No. 10 overall prospect according to PrepVolleyball.com and is ranked the No. 1 player in her position group as well as in the state of Illinois. The defensive specialist played three seasons on varsity for Sterling High School before her senior season was cancelled. However, despite not getting a senior season, Rodriguez set the Sterling High School record for career digs after finishing with 1,618. She also set the school record for single-match digs and single-season digs. A two-time MaxPreps Underclass All-American, Rodriguez finished with 120 career aces and averaged 7.2 digs per set.
 
The 2019-20 Illinois Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year led the Golden Warriors to a pair of Illinois 3A State titles in 2018 and 2019. She was named the best volleyball player in the state by MaxPreps in 2020 and was a first-team all-conference pick all three years. Rodriguez was named to the Champaign News Gazette’s All-State Team and the Sauk Valley Media All-Area Team three times. 
 
On the international stage, Rodriguez was a member of the 2020 US Women’s Junior National Training Team and was a member of the 2019 USA 18U National Team that won the FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship in Egypt.
 
A three-time AAU All-American, Rodriguez played club for Sports Performance and Fusion. She was a four-time national finalist and a three-time national champion in the open division. 
 
Off the court, Rodriguez has spent three years as the Sterling High School Student Body President and holds a 3.8 cumulative GPA. Rodriguez is also an active volunteer in her community and through the Sterling School Foundation. 
 
Rodriguez was born on March 11, 2003, in Sterling, Ill., and is the daughter of Chris and Crystal Rodriguez. She has one older sister, Kaylee Martin, who plays volleyball for Illinois State.
 
Ally Batenhorst, OH, 6-4, Houston, Texas (Seven Lakes High School) (Houston Juniors)

  • Ranked the No. 3 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Ranked the No. 2 outside hitter by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Ranked the No. 1 2021 prospect in the state of Texas
  • Played varsity all four years and was voted captain as a sophomore, junior and a senior
  • Named a first-team Under Armour All-American in 2020
  • Helped Seven Lakes High School win the 6A district title in 2017, 2018 and 2020
  • Named the Texas AVCA/MaxPreps Player of the Week twice in her prep career
  • Was a member of the 2020 US Women’s National Training Team
  • Named a MaxPreps Preseason All-American in 2020
  • Named to the AVCA All-Region Team in 2020
  • Named a PrepVolleyball.com All-American in 2017 and 2019
  • Named a MaxPreps Underclass All-American in 2017 and 2018
  • Was a Gatorade Player of the Year Candidate as a junior and a senior
  • Named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association (TGCA) All-Texas Team in 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Named VYPE Magazine All-State Team Hitter of the Year on 2019
  • Named first-team all-district in 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Was a member of the 2019 18U US Women’s National Training Team
  • Was a member of the 2018 USA 18U National Team that won the gold medal at NORCECA in Honduras 
  • Named the 6A District Most Valuable Attacker in 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Named PrepVolleyball.com’s National Freshman of the Year in 2017
  • Helped Seven Lakes High School to a runner-up finish at the state championships in 2017
  • Named to the UIL 6A All-Tournament Team at the state championships and was the only underclassman to make the team
  • Played club volleyball for Houston Juniors
  • Helped her club team win the gold medal at the 2016 USAV National Championships

 
Coach Cook: “Nebraska-born, Texas-built Ally Batenhorst is another huge part of this recruiting class. Having the ability to play all across the front and back row makes her very multidimensional. We expect Ally to come in and compete for playing time at outside hitter from day one.”
 




Rylee Gray, MB, 6-4, Elkhorn, Neb. (Elkhorn South High School) (Nebraska Elite)

  • Ranked the No. 70 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Finished her career with 1,383 kills, 476 blocks and a hitting percentage of .423
  • Played in 406 sets and also had 75 aces
  • Led Elkhorn South to the state tournament all four years, despite the move from Class B to Class A following the 2018 season
  • Helped Elkhorn South win the Class A state title in 2020 after just two seasons in Class A
  • Helped Elkhorn South claim the district title in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020
  • Helped the Storm to the metro conference title in 2019 and 2020
  • Named to the All-Metro Team as a sophomore and junior
  • Named to the All-Class B Team in 2018
  • Named to the All-Class A team in 2019
  • Named a PrepVolleyball.com All-American in 2018
  • Played club volleyball for Nebraska Elite

Coach Cook: “Rylee Gray comes in as one of the best middle blockers in the country. She has the innate ability to be a shutdown blocker. Rylee is another in a long line of Husker recruits who were multi-sport athletes in high school as she is a star on the Elkhorn South basketball team. She plays with an endless motor and has been getting better each year.”
 




Lindsay Krause, OH, 6-4, Papillion, Neb., (Skutt Catholic High School) (Premier Nebraska)

  • Ranked the No. 2 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Ranked the No. 1 OH by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Ranked the No. 1 2021 prospect in the state of Nebraska by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Named the 2019-20 Nebraska Volleyball Gatorade Player of the Year
  • Named a MaxPreps Preseason All-American in 2020
  • Named a PrepVolleyball.com All-American in 2017 and 2019
  • Named a MaxPreps All-American in 2019
  • Helped Skutt Catholic win the Class B state title in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and 2020
  • Finished her career with 1,449 kills and 135 solo blocks in 338 sets played
  • Hit .411 which included a career-best .475 as a senior in 2020
  • Named to the Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska First Team in 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Named to the Omaha World-Herald All-Class B First Team in 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Named to the Lincoln Journal Star Super-State First Team in 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Earned all-conference honors in 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Was a member of the 2019 USA 18U National Team that won the FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship in Egypt
  • Played club volleyball for Premier Nebraska

Coach Cook: “Lindsay Krause is another top recruit from the Papillion-La Vista area that has decided to play for the Huskers. She has led her Skutt Catholic High School team to four straight Class B State Championships. She was the Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year in 2019 and an Under Armor All-American in 2020. She also brings in some international experience as she was a part of the USA Youth National Team in 2018 and 2019. We expect Lindsay to come in and compete for playing time at outside hitter from day one.”




Whitney Lauenstein, OH, 6-2, Waverly, Neb., (Waverly High School) (VC Nebraska)

  • Ranked the No. 16 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Ranked the No. 2 2021 prospect in the state of Nebraska by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Played three varsity seasons for Waverly High School in Waverly, Neb.
  • Named to the Lincoln Journal Star Super-State First Team in 2019
  • Helped the Vikings reach the Class B State Tournament in 2018, 2019 and 2020
  • Was named to the Class B All-Tournament Team at the 2019 Nebraska State Championships
  • Was a two-time Class B all-state pick, earning first-team honors as a junior in 2019 and second-team honors as a sophomore in 2018
  • Named all-conference in 2018 and 2019
  • Played a total of 281 sets and finished with 1,366 career kills, 121 career blocks, 740 career digs and 87 aces
  • Finished her career with a .338 hitting percentage, which included a career-best .407 as a junior in 2019
  • Also ran track for Waverly
  • Played club for VC Nebraska

Coach Cook: “Whitney has been a fast riser in the recruiting rankings in the past year and a half. Three years ago, she came to Husker Camp and she was a middle blocker. After that camp, she switched positions and her stock has skyrocketed. A long, physical outside hitter with a live arm, Whitney became one of the most intensely recruited players in the class of 2021 following her sophomore year.




Kennedi Orr, S, 6-0, Eagan, Minn. (Eagan High School) (Northern Lights)

  • Ranked the No. 1 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Was a member of the 2019 USA 18U National Team that won the FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship in Egypt
  • Was a member of the 2018 USA 18U National Team that won the gold medal at NORCECA in Honduras 
  • Named best setter at the 2019 World Championships and at NORCECA in 2018
  • Named the Minnesota Volleyball Gatorade Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019
  • Named a MaxPreps Preseason All-American in 2020
  • Named a MaxPreps All-American in 2019
  • Named a PrepVolleyball.com All-American in 2018 and 2019
  • Finished with 405 assists, 242 kills, 204 digs, 43 blocks and 32 aces while hitting .414 as a junior in 2019
  • Recorded 411 assists, 380 kills, 230 digs and 68 blocks as a sophomore in 2018
  • Started at setter for Eagan High School since the end of seventh grade, playing six varsity seasons 
  • Helped Eagan High School to two state titles in 2015 and 2016 and three runner-up state finishes in 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Played club for Northern Lights
  • Was a member of the 17U team that won the gold medal at USA Volleyball’s Junior Olympics in 2018 
  • Named the MVP at USA Volleyball’s Junior Olympics in 2018 

Coach Cook: “Kennedi comes in as the best leader/setter in the country as well as the No. 1 overall recruit in the country according to PrepVolleyball.com. She was named the Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year twice and is a winner on all levels. Her high school team won two state championships and was the runner up three times. Her club team won the 17U gold medal at the 2018 USA Volleyball National Championships, a tournament in which she was named the Most Valuable Player. She also brings a bunch of international volleyball experience with her, playing for the USA Youth National Team. Kennedi will have an impact on this program as a leader from day one both on and off the court.”




Lexi Rodriguez, DS/L, 5-5, Sterling, Ill. (Sterling High School) (Sports Performance/Fusion)

  • Ranked the No. 10 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Ranked the No. 1 L/DS by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Ranked the No. 1 2021 prospect in the state of Illinois by PrepVolleyball.com
  • Was a member of the 2020 US Women’s Junior National Training Team
  • Was a member of the 2019 USA 18U National Team that won the FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship in Egypt
  • Played three varsity seasons for Sterling High School (senior season was cancelled)
  • Finished with 120 career aces and averaged 7.2 digs per set
  • Named the 2019-20 Illinois Volleyball Gatorade Player of the Year
  • Named the best volleyball player in Illinois by MaxPreps in 2020
  • Named a preseason All-American by MaxPreps in 2020
  • Helped Sterling High School claim the Illinois 3A state title in 2018 and 2019  
  • Named a 2019 USA Today preseason All-American
  • Named first-team all-conference all three years
  • Named to the Champaign News Gazette’s All-State Team three times
  • Named to the Sauk Valley Media All-Area Team three times
  • Named the 2019 Sauk Valley Media Player of the Year 
  • Named a high school All-American by MaxPreps in 2017 and 2018
  • Named a PrepVolleyball.com All-American in 2018 and 2019
  • Set the Sterling High School Record for single-match digs, single-season digs and career digs
  • Played club for Sports Performance and Fusion
  • Was a four-time national finalist and a three-time national champion in the open division
  • Was a three-time AAU All-America pick

Coach Cook: “Another top recruit at her position, Lexi is the best libero/ball-handling player in the class of 2021. She was named the 2019 Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year and her Sterling High School Team won the 3A State Championship in 2018 and 2019. MaxPreps named her an All-American twice and named Lexi the Best Player in Illinois in 2020. Lexi played club for the powerhouse Sports Performance Club. Her teams were national finalists four times and they won the gold medal three times. She was named an AAU All-American three times. Lexi was named to the USA Volleyball Youth National Team in 2018 and 2019 and was a member of the 2020 USA Junior National Team.”








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