BUFFALO, NY – University at Buffalo head volleyball coach Blair Brown Lipsitz has announced the addition of seven players for the upcoming 2019 season.
Jenna Sonnenberg – 5-7, Defensive Specialist, North Tonawanda, NY
Sonnenberg helped lead Niagara-Wheatfield to their first ever sectional title as a senior, registering 31 digs in the victory over Williamsville South. Sonnenberg and her Niagara-Wheatfield team continued their historic season in 2018 as they advanced to the State Championship tournament for the first time, losing a five-set heartbreaker, but she was named to the All-Tournament team for her performance. Finishing her career with 1,021 digs, 228 aces, and 598 assists, Sonnenberg is a first-team All-WNY selection as well as first-team All-Niagara Frontier League. Sonnenberg plays her club volleyball for Niagara Frontier.
Coach Lipsitz on Sonnenberg:
Jenna has been a part of the Buffalo family for years and grew up coming to our matches as a kid. Having a local athlete who has seen the exciting path Buffalo Athletics has taken will bring a unique energy to our program. Jenna is a player you want to be on the court with-she's going to drive this program outside of its comfort zone in the best way possible.
Courtney Okwara – 6-1, Middle Blocker, Bowie, MD
Okwara played her high school volleyball for The Academy of the Holy Cross, listed by Maxpreps.com as the #1 volleyball team in the state of Maryland. This past season, she helped lead Holy Cross to a 15-1 season in WCAC action. Okwara hit .395 on the season for Holy Cross and she also played her club volleyball for the Metro VBC.
Coach Lipsitz on Okwara:
Courtney is a very gifted athlete that is physically going to raise the level in the gym. She can play at such a high point over the net and will rival some of the most athletic players in the conference.
Morgan Verheyen – 6-0, Outside Hitter, Waterford, MI
Verheyen comes to Buffalo from Waterford, MI where she played at Notre Dame Prep. Despite not playing during her senior season, Verheyen led her team to a 64-2-2 record as a junior, finishing with 251 kills, 88 blocks, and a .318 hitting percentage. Her team finished as state champions during her junior season of 2017 after winning a pair of regional titles in 2015 and 2016. She was a first-team All-State selection in 2017 as well as Academic All-State. From 2015-17 she was named to the AVCA Phenom List and she has earned numerous All-League and All-Region honors. She played her club volleyball for Legacy Volleyball.
Coach Lipsitz on Verheyen:
Morgan comes to us from a very seasoned club program and brings an understanding of the full game that is rare for an incoming freshman. She has the ability to play six rotations and make an immediate impact in our gym. We can't wait to see where her hard work takes her.
Abby Leigh – 6-2, Middle Blocker, Strongsville, OH
Leigh went 27-2 and 12-0 in league play during her senior season at Padua Franciscan High School, as her team finished second in the state in Division I this past season, after winning state titles in Division II during her sophomore and junior seasons. Leigh finished her senior campaign with 232 kills, as she hit .408 on the year, earning All-Ohio First Team honors. Leigh plays her club volleyball for the Cleveland Volleyball Company.
Coach Lipsitz on Leigh:
Abby is coming off an incredibly successful high school season and understands what it takes to win at a variety of different levels. She is a natural blocker that sees the other side of the net well. I think Abby can become a force at the net on both sides of the ball.
Emma Puzausky – 6-0, Setter, Bethel Park, PA
Puzausky went 14-6 during her senior season at Bethel Park High School, as she was named first-team All-Section, first-team All-Big 56 conference, and second-team All-WPIAL. She earned three letters and served as captain for one season at Bethel Park and she has played her club volleyball for Pittsburgh Revolution VBC. She has also spent time at Pittsburgh Renaissance VBC, the same club as head coach Blair Brown Lipsitz.
Coach Lipsitz on Puzausky:
We are so excited to get Emma in the gym, as a setter I think she has the perfect balance of focused energy and steadiness. Even though she is young in the game she has a great knowledge of what it takes to win and how to pull the best out of those she plays with.
Melissa Masotto – 5-5, Defensive Specialist, Center Moriches, NY
Masotto has served as a three-year captain at Center Moriches High School, where she helped lead her team to an 11-4 record this past year. She was twice named All-League and is also an All-Academic selection. She currently plays her club volleyball for the Long Island Fury VBC.
Coach Lipsitz on Masotto:
Melissa has great sight on the court and a work ethic that just won't quit. She is coming to us this spring so she will have the unique opportunity to get a lot of reps with the current group.
Olivia DeBortoli – 6-2, Middle Blocker, Clifton Park, NY
DeBortoli helped lead Shenendehowa High School to a Sectional and Regional championship in 2018, finishing as a semifinalist at states. Her team went 24-3-3 as she led the Plainsmen with 244 kills, 180 blocks, and hit .388 as she was named first-team All-State and a New York Section II First-Team All-Star. DeBortoli has spent time with the IREVA Junior International Team as part of USA Volleyball and has also played club volleyball for NY Attack and Legion Volleyball Club.
Coach Lipsitz on DeBortoli:
Olivia is a player that we are really excited to work with. She is tall and long and will add to the physicality of our program while bringing us some depth in the middle position.