Iowa Volleyball Inks 3 for 2014 Season

Nov. 14, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa volleyball head coach Sharon Dingman announced that Jess Janota, Kaylee Smith, and Chenelle Walker have signed a National Letter of Intent and will join the Hawkeye roster in 2014.

“Today is a great day to be a Hawkeye for our volleyball program and for the three student-athletes we signed,” Dingman said. “Our three new Hawkeyes will bring high level IQ, a physical presence that we need, and a competitive spirit that will raise the level of training and competition in our gym. I love the unique qualities that each of them will add to the program.”

Janota is a four-year letter winner and three-time all-district honoree from Gilmour Academy in Concord, Ohio. As a senior, the middle blocker was an Under-Armour All-American nominee, named AVCA Player of the Week on Oct. 21, the District MVP, a first team All-District selection, and a first team All-Ohio pick after posting 421 kills. She helped Gilmour Academy accomplish state runner-up finishes in 2010, 2011, and 2013. In her high school career, Janota recorded 1,102 kills, 397 blocks, and 119 service aces. She was also a four-year basketball letter winner, who scored more than 1,000 career points.

Janota played club for JO Volleyball and helped them to AAU National Championship runner-up finishes in 2011 and 2013, a USA National Championship runner-up finish in 2013, and a third place USA National Championship finish in 2012. In addition, Janota was a member of the USA Women’s National Training Team in 2012.

Janota also excels in the classroom, acheiving High Honors in 2011, 2012, and 2013, receiving the Headmaster Award in 2011 and 2012, and is a member of the National Honor Society.

“Jess Janota will bring a level of competitiveness to the program that will have an immediate impact,” Dingman said. “She measures her success on championships. Because of the level of training that she has received through high school and club volleyball, the transition to college volleyball will be easier for her than most first-year players. She is versatile, physical and loves to compete.”

Smith is a four-year letter starter, all-conference honoree, all-district selection, and captain at Indianola High School in Indianola, Iowa. The setter is also a two-time all-state selection who was named Record Herald Player of the Year as a junior and a Senior State All-Star as a senior. Smith helped Indianola accomplish back-to-back conference championships and state qualifications as an upperclassman. She is also a three-year golf letter winner.

Smith played club volleyball for Central Iowa Select. She helped the team qualify for national championships in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013, accomplish a USA Junior National Championship in 2012, and finish third at the 2013 USA Junior National Championship. Smith was a USA Junior National Championship all-tournament team selection in 2012 and 2013, and was named to the USA Iowa Regional all-tournament team in 2012. She also captained the USA Women’s Junior National Team that earned a gold medal in 2013 and the Iowa High Performance team in 2011 and 2012.

Smith was named academic all-conference in 2012 and 2013 and is active in several extracurricular activities, including Student Council, Science Club, Mu Alpha Theta, and dance. She is also the DECA President for 2013-14.

“Kaylee Smith will come to Iowa with an understanding of the game at a much higher level than her age would dictate,” Dingman said. “Having the opportunity to play for her mother (Simpson College Head Coach and former Hawkeye player) in club, and to watch college volleyball since she was a baby will be very beneficial to our program. Kaylee completely grasps what being a setter entails. She has been a leader on every team with which she has played.”

Walker hails from Riverdale High School in Fort Myers, Fla., where she was a four-year volleyball letter winner, three-time all-area selection, and a two-time all-conference honoree. The middle blocker/right side hitter led Riverdale to four straight conference championships and led the team in kills and blocks in 2011-13. She also lettered in track and field and basketball.

Walker helped the Florida International High Performance team to fourth place and ninth place finishes at the High Performance Championships in 2012 and 2011, respectively. In addition, she guided the USA South Volleyball Club team to a 2012 Tri-County Invite championship and Junior Olympic Qualifier in 2012 and 2013. Walker was also a National A2 Volleyball team invitee.

Walker has received a long list of academic awards and was most recently named the Wendy’s High School Heisman State winner, which honors students that excel in academics, athletics, and leadership. She is involved in the Florida High School Athletic Association Student Advisory Committee, math team, Interact club, Florida Christian Athlete Association, chorus ensemble, National Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society, art club, Riverdale docent, drama club, Infused Christian youth group, Alzheimer’s art therapy, Riverhall Elementary mentoring program, hunger initiative program, girls youth basketball, and ministry youth group.

“Chenelle Walker is an explosive, strong, athletic player,” Dingman said. “However, she is much more than just a great athlete. She brings academic credentials to the University of Iowa that are just as impressive as all the athletic accolades she has garnered. We are thrilled to have a student-athlete with her level of commitment to excellence.”

2014 Recruiting Class
Name Pos. Ht. Hometown
Jess Janota MB 6-3 Concord, Ohio
Kaylee Smith S 5-11 Indianola, Iowa
Chenelle Walker MB/RS 6-1 Fort Myers, Fla.