A flood of talent signed with Arizona volleyball on Thursday. Former USC outside hitters Jordan Wilson and Kalen Owes headline the group, but first-year head coach Rita Stubbs also added several defensive specialists to a team that needed help with passing and defense to reach its potential.
Wilson announced her intent to transfer to Arizona the second week of May. At the time, it was rumored that USC teammate Owes would be joining her, but there was no announcement by the legacy Wildcat that she would be coming back to Arizona. Now, it’s official.
Both Wilson and Owes hail from the Phoenix area but Owes has a long family history with the Wildcats. The fifth-year transfer from Ahwatukee is the daughter of former Arizona men’s basketball All-Pac-10 forward Ray Owes and Arizona volleyball All-Region setter Laura Owes (nee Bartsch). Her aunt Michelle Bartsch was also a member of the Wildcats volleyball program in the early 1990s. Both Laura and Michelle are originally from Tucson and Kalen Owes was born in town before her family relocated.
In three years on the court with the Women of Troy, Owes averaged 2.19 kills, 1.28 digs, and 0.4 blocks per set. She did not play in 2022 and appeared in just seven matches her sophomore year.
Owes was highly recruited out of high school after winning a state title at Desert Vista in 2015. In 2016, she was a member of the USA Volleyball U15 national championship all-tournament team. She was No. 11 on PrepVolleyball.com’s Senior Aces list for 2019.
Her past and future teammate Wilson was the No. 2 recruit in last year’s class. As a freshman, she averaged 2.87 kills per set with a .243 hitting percentage. She accounted for 3.11 points per set. Both the kills and points per set were second for USC behind Skylar Fields.
The addition of the pair of left-side hitters makes a talented group even more formidable. The two transfers join a group of pins that includes 2020 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Sofia Maldonado Diaz, 2021 Pac-12 All-Freshman team member Puk Stubbe, and Jaelyn Hodge, who was second on the team in both kills and kills per set last season and first in both stats the season before.
What influence the influx of talent had on those already on the roster is up for debate. Rising sophomore outside hitter and middle blocker Lauren Rumel announced that she was transferring to Oregon State last week.
The two transfers will be joined by yet another intraconference transfer in former Oregon libero Becca Morse. Morse sat out with an injury last season, but she will be in line to replace four-year starting libero Kamaile Hiapo.
Morse will have competition, though. In addition to the group of littles already in Tucson, Arizona brings in two more freshmen at the defensive specialist/libero positions.
Kenzie Schoenhardt arrives from Gilbert High School and the Arizona Storm Elite VBC. In high school, she also played outside hitter, but the 5-foot-9 addition is meant to play the back row for the Wildcats.
Giorgia Mandotti adds to Arizona’s growing reliance on international players. The 5-foot-7 libero comes to the Wildcats from Milan, Italy. She joins current international players Sofia Maldonado Diaz of Mexico and Puk Stubbe of the Netherlands on the UA roster.