Nov. 14, 2002
TUCSON, Ariz.- A year after landing the top recruiting class in the nation, Arizona head coach David Rubio and his assistants have put together another stellar class for the 2003 season. The Wildcats announced today the signing of three high schools players to National Letters-of-Intent in the early signing period.
Opposite hitter Kristina Baum, setter Stephanie Butkus and middle blocker Enobong (pronounced Ana-bong) Ibok have all signed a Letter-of-Intent to play collegiately for the Wildcats.
"The three players that we signed for next season are a perfect fit," says Rubio. "They meet the needs of the team and the program. They are all athletic players that have competed at a high level and will be an excellent compliment to the four players that we signed last year."
Baum, a 6-foot-2 opposite hitter from Whittier, Calif., recently helped California High School to its first-ever league championship. Playing mostly middle blocker in high school, Coach Rubio expects the athletic Baum to have little trouble sliding over the to the right side when she dons the Cardinal and Navy next season.
"Kristina has played for Cal Juniors, one of the top club teams in the nation for a number of years," says Rubio. "She brings a complete game with her. She has sound fundamentals and her ability to pass, serve, block and attack are already there. She also possesses a great mental approach to the game."
Butkus, a 5-foot-11 setter from Bridgeview, Ill., wrapped up her third varsity season at Queen of Peace High School by garnering all-area honors from the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. Butkus is expected to replace departing senior Laurie Gardner in the Arizona lineup next season.
"Stephanie is the perfect setter to follow (former Arizona All-American) Dana (Burkholder) and (current Arizona senior setter) Laurie (Gardner)," says Rubio. "She has good skills and sound fundamentals, but more importantly she'll be able to step in and play right away because of her mental approach to setting. In the Pac-10, the mental part of the game is more important than the athletic part."
Ibok, who moved from El Paso to Irving, Texas, for her senior year in high school, is an athletic 6-foot-3 middle who will pair nicely with current Wildcat freshman middle blocker Bre Ladd.
"In my mind," says Rubio. "Enobong has the athletic ability to be as good as (current Arizona All-America candidate) Kim (Glass). Her upside is nearly limitless. She possesses amazing athletic talent, a sound mental approach and an impressive work ethic. She has experience playing against top competition and I'm excited to have her as part of the class."
Arizona's 2002 Early Signing Period Recruiting Class Player Ht. Pos. Hometown/High School Kristina Baum 6-2 MB/Opp Whittier, Calif./California HS Stephanie Butkus 5-11 S Bridgeview, Ill./Queen of Peace HS Enobong Ibok 6-3 MB Irving, Texas/Irving MacArthur HS