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Volleyball Inks Three for 2014 Recruiting Class

Kayla Simmons

Nov. 19, 2013

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Coach Mitch Jacobs and the Marshall volleyball program have announced three signees in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

“I like that this class addresses the needs of this team,” Jacobs said. “We graduate three outstanding seniors and since we already have two fantastic defensive specialist/liberos in house to compete for Dorothy’s (Rahal) libero role, we were able to focus on replacing Der (Laura), Sacha (Byous-McConnell) and shoring up the setter position for the future. These freshmen all play with great passion, and I look forward to them joining the Herd volleyball family.”

Justice Craft, Taylor Pelton and Kayla Simmons are the first three to sign their National Letters of Intent for the 2014-15 volleyball recruiting class.

Justice Craft-East Kentwood High School                                             5-10       Hometown: Caledonia, Mich.

Craft comes to Marshall after an outstanding senior season at East Kentwood High School, where she tallied 490 kills on 1,119 total attempts and a .338 hitting percentage. She also collected 64 digs, 105 total blocks (74 assisted and 31 solo blocks) and 42 service aces. She was named to the all-conference and all-regional team in 2013 after leading her team to a 40-17-2 overall record.

A native of Caledonia, Mich., Craft also played on the Dead Frog FaR Out Volleyball Club National Team her last three years. She played on the 17U club tournament team that advanced to the AAU Nationals where the team made it to the Gold Bracket.  

“Justice gives us another very talented athlete,” Jacobs said. “She comes here as a middle (blocker) but I see no reason why Justice couldn’t also play either of the pins. Justice has a very fiery attitude on the court and I look forward to her bringing in that energy.”

Craft has been named to the school’s all-academic team all four seasons and plans on majoring in elementary education.

Taylor Pelton-Louisville Male Traditional High School                   5-10       Hometown: Louisville, Ky.

Pelton tallied 305 kills, 50 blocks and 56 service aces in 35 matches in her senior season. She won the team’s Most Influential Award during her senior campaign and was the co-captain. She also earned the team’s Offensive Award her sophomore year. Pelton played on the varsity squad sophomore through her senior season. She helped Male High School defeat longtime rival DuPont Manual her junior season, marking its first victory over Manual in nine years.

The native of Louisville, Ky., Pelton also participated in numerous summer leagues, including the MidAmerica Volleyball Association and Kentucky-Indiana Volleyball Academy.  

“Taylor hits a very heavy ball,” Jacobs said. “She will immediately be able to impact us with the fact that she can terminate and score points. Taylor will need to work hard on her ball control skills to become the six rotation player I envision her to become.”

Pelton is an honor roll student at Male and collected a 3.6 GPA. She plans on majoring in biology and minoring in political science at Marshall.

Kayla Simmons-P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School     5-9          Hometown: Gainesville, Fla.

Simmons comes to Marshall after being a six-year letter winner at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School in Gainesville, Fla. She was a three-year captain for a squad that won four district titles and advanced to five Elite 8 appearances. She tallied 3,196 assists, 877 digs, 517 kills, 251 service aces and 89 blocks during her playing career at P.K. Yonge.

She has won multiple Gainesville Sun Athlete of the Week honors along with being named a four-time Gainesville Sun All-Area selection. Simmons has made the Gatortown Classic All-Tournament Team twice. Other accolades include the 2012 team’s Leadership Award, TV20 Scholar Athlete of the Week and the 2013 Wendy’s High School Heisman Scholarship Award.

Simmons made four USAV Junior Olympic appearances and was selected to the 2013 USA Volleyball Woman’s Junior A1 Team. She also was a 2012 AAU All-American selection and 2011 USAV Florida High Performance award winner. She was a member of the Gainesville Juniors and Ocala Power club teams and the Orlando Volleyball Academy.

“Kayla is also a fierce competitor that brings out the most in her attackers,” Jacobs said. “She has set a very high level in club and is considered one of the two best setters coming out of the state of Florida this year by the coaches that I trust the most down there.  Kayla will give us great depth at the setter spot and puts us in a perfect position with Sammie (Bane) having only one more season here.”

She is an honor roll student and collected a 3.8 GPA while also serving as the vice president of the French club. She was also a member of the Key club and the Marine Science club. She plans on majoring in sports psychology at Marshall.