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Montana Western Women's Volleyball Releases 2024 Recruiting Class

Lindsey Branch, UMW Sports Information

DILLON, Mont. - Montana Western Volleyball welcomed four signees in its 2024 signing class, the program announced Tuesday afternoon. 

"I could not be more excited about this incoming recruiting class. Not only have they demonstrated high level performance, but they are all great leaders and people," Head Coach Katie Lovett said. 

This year's recruiting class includes two student-athletes from Montana and two transfer student-athletes from Colorado and California.

Dani Brown | OH | 6'0" | Fair Oaks, Calif. / Bella Vista High School / Folsom Lake College

Dani is an outside hitter who joins the Bulldogs as a transfer from Folsom Lake College and a 2023 graduate of Bella Vista High School. Last season for the Falcons, Brown earned first team all-conference honors while leading her team with 3.35 kills per set and a total of 358 kills on the season. She also ranked in the top 10 in the state of California for total kills. During her high school career, Brown surpassed 500 career kills through four years of varsity volleyball for the Broncos. She was a two-time all-conference selection and league MVP her senior season. Brown also competed in the Sac Performance Volleyball Club for eight years under the direction of Kalani Pananganan. "With Dani transferring in the spring and being able to get acclimated with the team before the season is definitely a benefit," Lovett said. "She has consistently been a go-to offensive and defensive player for every team she has been on. She averaged 3.36 kills per set in a very competitive California junior college league and we are expecting her to fit right into our offense, and even bring it to new heights." Brown is the daughter of Scott Brown and Michelle Brown and will continue to pursue her degree in Biology while at Montana Western.

Megan Hardman | Setter | 5'9" | American Fork, Utah / American Fork High School / Central Wyoming College

Megan is a setter who joins the Bulldogs as a transfer from Central Wyoming College and a 2022 graduate of American Fork High School. In the last two seasons for the Rustlers, Hardman was named setter of the year and earned second team all-conference honors after she averaged 7.59 assists per set and added a total of 482 digs. She also had a total of 82 aces and 116 blocks across her two seasons. At American Fork, Hardman was named second team All-State twice and was an all-valley selection. Hardman also competed in the Club V volleyball organization for eight years out of Salt Lake City, Utah. "Megan had a very successful junior college career at Central Wyoming with her team finishing seventh in the nation her freshman year." Lovett said. "She is used to running a quick and dynamic offense and we feel like she will fit right in here at Western." Hardman is the daughter of Kyle and Anne Hardman and will continue to pursue her degree while at Montana Western.

Taylor Ketchum | DS/Libero | 5'3" | Billings, Mont. / Billings Skyview High School

Taylor is defensive specialist and libero who joins the Bulldogs from Billings, Mont. and will be graduating from Billings Skyview High School this spring. A three-year varsity athlete for the Falcons, Ketchum was selected team MVP twice while earning all-conference honorable mention, first team All-State and first team all-conference in the last two seasons. She was also a three-time academic All-State selection. Last season, Ketchum led the Montana class AA with a total of 426 digs. Aside from playing at Skyview, Ketchum has played in the Rimrock Volleyball Club for the past eight seasons, playing for coach Moodie. "Taylor is one of the most positive athletes I have ever had the opportunity to recruit," Lovett said. "Her work ethic, genuine character and positive communication will make her a great teammate and a standout back court leader." Ketchum is the daughter of Ty Ketchum and Lori Ketchum and plans to pursue a degree in Business while at Montana Western.

Savana Warburton | MB/OH | 5'9" | Joliet, Mont. / Joliet High School

Savana is a middle blocker and outside hitter who joins the Bulldogs from Joliet, Mont. and will be graduating from Joliet High School this spring. A four-year varsity athlete, Warburton earned numerous accolades throughout her time at Joliet High School. During her high school career, she was named first team All-State last season, earned all-conference honors three times, is a four-time academic All-State selection, and holds the record for conference kills with a total of 291. She also holds the school record for digs with 345. She was a member of the 2020 Joliet squad that won the Class B State Championship, in addition to winning their district in 2020 and 2023. Warburton competed in basketball and track and field while in high school, where in 2021 she placed fourth in the state in high jump. "Warburton is very fundamentally sound and is starting her college career with a great foundation to build on," Lovett said. "Savana is a very dynamic player at the net, being an offensive threat from pretty much anywhere. But she is also very defensive minded and has great ball control." Warburton is the daughter of George and Stacey Warburton and plans to major in Applied Science while at Montana Western.

The Bulldogs enter the 2024 season as the reigning Frontier Conference tournament champions after they capped off the historic 2023 campaign with an overall 22-8 record. The Bulldogs posted their highest win percentage since the 1996 season and made their first ever appearance in the NAIA Women's Volleyball National Tournament and went 1-2 overall. UMW will be returning 15 players from last season's conference championship squad, including all-conference players Danyel Martin, Jordan Olson, Jazi Smith, and all-freshman team selection Sophie Worden. In addition, the Bulldogs return standout libero Kelsey Goddard who was third in the conference for total digs (556) and fourth in the conference for digs per set (5.20) after last season.

Danyel Martin, a 6-2 junior middle blocker from McAllister, Mont., was selected first team all-conference, honorable mention All-America, and was an AVCA all-region selection after she totaled 228 kills on the season for 2.19 kills per set with a conference leading .341 hitting percentage. She also was third in the conference with 1.0 blocks per set and a total of 104 blocks this season. Martin was 20th in the nation for hitting percentage (.341) and 27th in the nation for solo blocks with a total of 30.

Jazi Smith was also named an AVCA All-Region Honorable Mention for her contributions this past season. Smith, a 5-11 junior outside hitter from Mossyrock, Wash., was also selected first team all-conference after she led the Bulldogs with 302 kills on the season and 2.63 kills per set. Smith also was a force in the back row, coming in second on the team with 411 digs this season and 3.57 digs per set.

Multiple Bulldogs hit career milestones across the season. Peyton Vogl totaled over 500 kills and 200 blocks. She is now the single season block record holder at Montana Western after she totaled 120 blocks this season and the season blocks per set record holder with 1.12 per set. Both KayLee Kopp and Danyel Martin broke the 500-kill threshold. Martin also broke UMW's total career block record and finished the season with 279 total career blocks.

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