NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee State volleyball head coach Kathy Bullock announced the signings of five athletes for the upcoming 2015 season. Chloe Watson, Lapeka Kalulu-Sugai, Puamana Danielson, Tyra Long and Ayanna Chase will enter in the fall and will look to replace outgoing seniors Naomi Wells, Taylor Swayzer, Jaime Cooper and Ileanushka Maldonado.
“I feel confident that the quality of the entire class from top to bottom can compete with some of the best classes we have ever brought in,” Bullock said. “They all possess great athleticism and volleyball IQ. We addressed all of our needs going into next year, so we expect 2015 to be a very special season.”
Watson is a 5-9 outside hitter from Kent, Wash. Who spent one season at Eastern Washington University before finishing up at College of Southern Idaho. Watson averaged 2.59 kills, .42 aces, 2.29 digs and 0.51 blocks per game earning Region 18 first team honors and was named second team All-American.
Watson, along with Kalulu-Sugai and Danielson, led CSI to a Scenic West Athletic Conference title, a Region 18 championship and a third-place finish at the NJCAA National Championships.
Prior to CSI, she played in 26 matches and compiled 40 kills and 48 digs at EWU. At Kent-Meridian High School, Watson earned first team league honors all four years and MVP honors in 2012, while becoming the all-time kills and aces leader. Watson also played basketball and ran track and field.
The incoming junior is known for her success in the classroom, as well as on the court. Watson earned a 4.0 gpa at CSI and was named to the 2013 Big Sky All-Academic Team while attending EWU.
“Chloe is a big-time player who has had experience at many different levels,” said Bullock. “She is going to bring energy to our team through her explosiveness and her leadership. We think Chloe will plug right into our rotation because she is so mentally strong.”
Danielson and Kalulu-Sugai joined forces with Watson to guide CSI to a 35-3 record and a 9-1 mark in the SWAC.
Danielson served as a setter, averaging 4.06 assists per game as a sophomore and 3.89 as a freshman. The 5-6 incoming junior hails from Ewa Beach, Hawai’i where she played three seasons at Kalani High School, helping her team to a fourth place finish in OIA as a senior. Danielson earned first team and second team division honors over her final two seasons.
“Pua will be a great setter for us this fall because of her ball-control and play-making skills,” mentioned Bullock. “I could see her coming in and competing for the starting role because her abilities. It will allow us to try different formations on the floor which could keep the other team off balance.”
Kalulu-Sugai played two seasons at CSI splitting time between libero and outside hitter. The Haleiwa, Hawai’i product recorded 351 digs, 21 service aces and 57 kills as a sophomore after averaging 0.81 kills, 0.13 aces, 0.10 blocks and 2.09 digs per game in 26 matches as a freshman.
Kalulu-Sugai played her first two years at Kahuku High School, helping KHS to a OIA Championship as a sophomore. The 5-8 incoming junior finished her prep career at Waialua HS where she was chosen to play for the senior invitational all star team in her final season.
“Lapeka comes from a very prestigious community college that has a long history of producing top D-I talent,” Bullock stated. “She is a top-quality defender and she was the best hitter on her team, so she is very diverse. Her ball-control and volleyball IQ are very strong and those were two areas that we wanted to address with this class.”
Long comes to TSU after one year at Mississippi State. The 6-0 outside hitter from Tampa, Fla. was a solid offensive presence in limited action at MSU and was hampered by injuries throughout her first season. Long played in 12 matches for the Bulldogs and completed her first year with 37 kills, seven blocks and six digs.
Long, a three-year letter-winner at Land O’ Lakes High School, helped the Gators capture district championships in all four seasons. She earned First Team All-Conference and All-District honors and was named team MVP her senior year.
“Tyra brings experience after playing in the SEC,” said Bullock. “She will give us that extra height that we needed. She won’t be overwhelmed by anything that we throw at her and I know she is ready to show off what she can really do.”
Chase prepped at Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Fla. The 5-11 middle hitter was a three-year letter-winner and ranked second in blocks as a sophomore for 8A District 2. Chase was chosen to represent Team Florida/Florida Region and participated in the USA Volleyball Championships in Fort Lauderdale in July, 2013. Chase played competitively for Inland Volleyball Club’s 18 Elite.
“Ayanna will probably be one of the most dynamic and athletic players for us next year,” Bullock said. “She is very fast and jumps well off of one leg. She can do it all from the front row from blocking to hitting.”
2015 TSU Volleyball Signees
Ayana Chase, MH – Altamonte Springs, Fla. (Lake Brantley HS)
Puamana Danielson, S - Ewa Beach, Hawai’i (Kalani High School/College of Southern Idaho)
Lepeka Kalulu-Sugai, OH/L - Haleiwa, Hawai’i (Waialua HS/College of Southern Idaho)
Tyra Long, OH – Tampa, Fla. (Land O’ Lakes HS/Mississippi State)
Chloe Watson, OH - Kent, Wash. (Kent-Meridan HS/College of Southern Idaho)