Volleyball Team Signs Top Hitter

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball head coach Kathy Gregory has signed one of Canada's top hitters to a National Letter of Intent, the team announced on Wednesday.

Taylor Pischke, who hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba, will join the Gauchos for the 2011 season. The 6-foot-1 left side hitter was named the province's No. 1 high school player and was part of the seven-member All-Manitoba Team.

"Taylor is the whole package," Gregory said. "She'll be our best passer. She is going to take the swings out of the back row and as a freshman she is going to be a leader on this team. Taylor has all the physical attributes and skills to dominate, but what separates her, is her drive. It is unmatched and she has already shown that her competitiveness is not only in the indoor game but she is equally as driven and dominant in beach volleyball."

Pischke was named Fort Richmond Collegiate High School's female MVP and was awarded the Dr. Dale Iwanoczko Memorial Scholarship, both of which are based on athletic achievement, academics and community and school service. Pischke and her partner won the Provincial High School Beach Championships, marking her second title as a doubles team. Her club team won has won seven provincial titles and she has been named provincial MVP five times.

"This school has the best volleyball situation for me," Pischke said. "I believe these coaches can make me the best I can be as an indoor and sand volleyball player. UCSB is ranked high academically and has a beautiful geographical location on the edge of the Pacific Ocean."

Pischke's father, Garth, will be entering his 31st season as the head coach of the University of Manitoba Bison men's volleyball team after a terrific playing career. Garth was a member of the Canadian Olympic Team at the 1976 and 1984 Olympics and also played professionally in the International Volleyball Association. Pischke's mother, Cindy, was a three-time national champion at the University of Saskatchewan and was a Junior Canada National Team player. 

"This is one of the top recruits who is going to be an impact player and will be starting for us on the left side," Gregory said. "I do believe that she is capable of being one of the top hitters in the Big West in her freshman year. She is an outstanding passer and defender and you will see our left side greatly improve with her in the lineup."

A well-decorated player, Pischke has been nominated for no less than six awards following an outstanding high school career. But, her play evokes Gregory's memory of some of the best players ever to wear a Gaucho uniform.

"Her work ethic and commitment," Gregory said, "reminds me of three of the best players that played here - Judy Bellomo, Roberta Gehlke and Brooke Hanson."

As a beach volleyball player, Pischke won two provincial championships in three years and was a national silver medalist in 2007. She was also nominated for Manitoba's Female Junior Athlete of the Year and Female Junior of the Year for her accomplishments in the sand.

"Taylor's ultimate goal is to be a member of the Canadian Olympic beach volleyball team and I will do everything I can to help her reach her goal," Gregory said. "As someone who experienced a great deal of success as a beach volleyball player, I know what it takes to be a tremendous player on the beach and I am excited to help pass along my knowledge of the indoor and beach game to Taylor."

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