The University of Minnesota Crookston volleyball team officially announced the signing of Lauren Ulibarri (DS/Lib., 5-5, Flagstaff, Ariz./Yavapai College) to a National Letter of Intent. Ulibarri is the fourth signee for Head Coach Sarah Rauen and the Golden Eagles. She is the second junior college player to ink with Minnesota Crookston along with Melissa Rodriguez (MH, 6-0, Sarchi, Costa Rica/Otero Junior College (Colo.). In addition to Ulibarri and Rodriguez, Minnesota Crookston previously signed Porsha Porath (OH, 6-1, Windom, Minn./Windom H.S.) and Hannah Stark (OH, 5-10, Esko, Minn./Esko H.S.).
“We are very excited to add Lauren to the Golden Eagle family,” Rauen said. “In getting to know Lauren it was clear that her drive and passion for both academics and volleyball make her a great fit for our program. Having two years of college volleyball experience will help her transition well to the tremendous level of volleyball we play in the NSIC, and we can’t wait to get her in the gym and classroom this fall!”
Ulibarri will have two years of eligibility for Minnesota Crookston. She joins a group of defensive specialists that includes Ali Schueler (R-Jr., DS/Lib., Howards Grove, Wis.), Katie Lienemann (So., DS/Lib., Rosemount, Minn.) and Alyssa Thomas (R-So., OH/DS, Marion, Iowa). Ulibarri gives the Golden Eagles another defensive specialist with collegiate experience.
Minnesota Crookston has been able to bring in top talent from the region, nationally and internationally with their 2018 signing class. Porath and Stark are both top preps in the state of Minnesota, while Rodriguez is a top international talent from the junior college level, and Ulibarri represents the western region as a top junior college player. All four will help to strengthen and add competition and depth to their respective position groups.
The Golden Eagles are heading into Coach Rauen's second season with the program. Minnesota Crookston is looking to improve on a 7-21 (4-15 NSIC) record in 2017. The Golden Eagles return nine players from last season's team as they look to continue to show improvement from last season. Minnesota Crookston returns three players with significant starting experience in Schapekahm, Schueler, and Sikkink. Deaira Gresham (So., OH, Maplewood, Minn.) also logged significant time as a freshman for Minnesota Crookston. Schapekahm notched 1.28 kills and 0.54 blocks per set as a junior. Sikkink tallied 1.47 kills and 0.59 blocks per set in 2017, while Schueler notched 1.88 digs per set. Gresham tallied 1.57 kills and 1.21 digs per set.
The Golden Eagles also return Sabrina Leuer (R-Jr., OH, Hamel, Minn.) from injury, who looks to factor into the lineup for Minnesota Crookston. Sydney Kruisselbrink (So., S, Rochester, Minn.) and Lienemann saw limited time in their first seasons with the squad, while Lauren Wallace (R-So., MH/OH, Bloomington, Minn.) and Thomas sat out last season. All four players look to push to see the court this season. Rodriguez, Porath and Stark will all compete with the returnees to see the floor in 2018.
Lauren Ulibarri (DS/Lib., 5-5, Flagstaff, Ariz./Yavapai College)
Ulibarri averaged 1.04 digs per set as a sophomore for Yavapai College. As a freshman, she notched 1.93 digs per set for the Roughriders. Ulibarri had 13 service aces as a freshman for Yavapai College. Ulibarri tallied a season-high eight digs at Arizona Western Oct. 27. She tallied six digs on four occasions during the 2017 season. Ulibarri is an All-Academic First Team selection in 2018 and an All-Academic Second Team pick in 2017.
Ulibarri is the daughter of Jay and Vonnie Ulibarri. She was born April 15, 1998. Ulibarri plans to major in elementary education. Her father played baseball at South Mountain Community College and California Baptist University.