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Head of the class

Megan Hodge fronts Penn State's talented recruiting haul

Posted: Wednesday June 28, 2006 3:45PM; Updated: Wednesday June 28, 2006 3:55PM
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As a senior, Megan Hodge was named Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year after compiling 363 kills, 197 digs and 86 aces.
As a senior, Megan Hodge was named Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year after compiling 363 kills, 197 digs and 86 aces.
Photo by Steve Rogers

It's not even July, but expectations for the upcoming women's volleyball season at Penn State are already through the roof. This can be attributed to the fact that veteran coach Russ Rose has rounded up the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation -- and probably one of the most talented groups in NCAA history.

Gatorade has put its stamp of approval on the incoming foursome -- which includes Megan Hodge, Blair Brown, Alisha Glass and Jessica Yanz -- by crowning each girl state Player of the Year. But the group is led by Hodge, who was named Gatorade's National Volleyball Player of the Year.

The versatile 6-foot-3 Hodge enjoyed a brilliant career at Riverside (Durham, N.C.), leading the team to a combined record of 74-14. As a senior she compiled 363 kills, 197 digs, 86 aces and 36 blocks. In her junior year she produced even more impressive numbers: 633 kills, 300 digs, 130 aces and 59 blocks. She also starred for several USA national youth teams in the offseason and achieved a sparkling 4.5 GPA in the classroom.

Brown, a 6-4 middle hitter, was ranked No. 1 in Virginia after leading Loudoun County (Leesburg) to a 29-0 record and the Class AA state title. She set a state record with 1,463 kills over four years, leading her team to a 93-14 record and a 55-match winning streak. She posted a 3.8 GPA.

The 6-foot Glass -- a strong hitter and an extremely talented setter -- garnered numerous honors in Michigan while starring for Leland (Lake Leelanau). She had 48 kills in the Class D state championship match. She holds national records for season aces (296), career aces (937) and career kills (3,584). Her GPA was 3.7.

Yanz won Gatorade's top honors in Illinois, while leading Naperville Central to the Class AA state championship. The 6-foot setter was a four-year starter for Naperville Central, the same school that produced Tennessee hoops star Candace Parker.

Hodge, the class's crown jewel, has impeccable volleyball credentials -- her father, Michael, and mother, Carmen, both played for the Virgin Islands national volleyball team. Her father is 6-6, and her mother, who had a 40-inch vertical leap, is 5-8. But they both expect Megan to eclipse their success.

"She can be one of the greatest players in U.S. history," Michael said. "She is a hard worker and her volleyball IQ is very high. The sky is the limit, but she has to stay healthy."

And her coach-to-be doesn't disagree.

"She has the potential to play beyond college," said Rose, who speaks conservatively by nature. "She is a very good offensive player. She is a very aggressive terminating attacker. She can play a variety of positions and has a great feel for the game."

Hodge boasts an intimidating style of play at the net that is built on power. 

"The ball explodes off her hand," Michael Hodge said. "A lot of people come to watch her hit. It's like the floor shakes. She's given some concussions. She's hit me with the ball and it hurts."