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UB volleyball adds 3 for 2017 season


BUFFALO -- University at Buffalo women's head volleyball coach Blair Brown Lipsitz has announced the addition of three players for the upcoming 2017 season in Larra Bickelhaupt, Kristina Nieves, and Vanessa Marinelli.

Bickelhaupt is a 5-9 libero from Cape Coral, FL, who joined the Bulls prior to this spring schedule after playing in the fall for Hillsborough Community College.  She will be a junior next season.  Bickelhaupt played both outside hitter and libero at Hillsborough where she was named NJCAA second-team All-Conference last season as well as the NJCAA Region 8/FCAA Defensive Player of the Week as her team finished 12th in the final NJCAA National Poll.

She was a high school standout at Oasis High School where she led her team to a 21-9 record as a senior, finishing with 372 kills, 314 digs, and 56 aces, winning a district title in 2014.

"Larra brings stability and a great demeanor to the court," said Lipsitz. "She has already shown that she has the ability to make an immediate impact with her experience and understanding of the game."

Nieves is a 6-3 middle blocker who transfers to Buffalo after playing her freshman season at Saint Peter's College in New Jersey. She played in 25 matches at Saint Peter's where she finished fourth on the team in kills and second on the team in blocks.

Nieves is from Ringwood, NJ and she played for Passaic County Technical Institute where she was named first-team All-County and All-Conference in 2015 as she led the state in blocks with 125.  She became the first ever player from her high school to receive a Division I volleyball scholarship as she holds her high school records for kills, blocks, and service aces.

"Kristina is a quick athlete pin-to-pin who can dominate net play," said Lipsitz. "We are very excited to see her develop in our gym as she joins a talented group of middles."

Marinelli is a 5-9 setter from Leesburg, VA who played for four seasons at Tuscarora High School.  She helped her team to an 18-9 record as a senior as she finished with 52 aces, 97 kills, 10 blocks, 451 assists, and 195 digs.  She set her high school record for service aces.  Marinelli was named first-team All-State, as well as first-team All-Conference and All-Region.  She has played club volleyball for CHRVA High Performance, Dulles Volleyball, and NVVA.

"Vanessa is coming off a great high school season and she understands what it takes to win," said Lipsitz. "That competitive drive and her ability to play multiple position at a high level will continue to serve her well at the next level."

These three newcomers join Andrea Mitrovic and Marija Babic, who both signed National Letters of Intent back in November.