Huskers Sign Six in Top-Ranked Recruiting Class

Photo Courtyesy: Isabel Thalken, NU Communications

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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