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Feb. 12, 1997

MSU Volleyball Signs Four Top-Notch Players

Michigan State University head volleyball coach Chuck Erbe has announced the signing of four players, Sarah Gustin, Christie Landry, Jessica Sanborn and Maren Witzel to national letters of intent to attend MSU next year and play for the defending Big Ten Champion Spartans.

The four players comprise one of the most important recruiting classes in Erbe's four-year tenure at MSU. The Spartans, who were 26-7 and captured their second-straight conference crown in 1996, must replace four-year starters and First-Team All-Americans Dana Cooke and Val Sterk.

"This is, without a doubt, our finest recruiting class in the last four years," Erbe said. "It's coming at a good time, with the loss of our two All-Americans, Dana and Val, who laid the foundation for this program. With their work ethic, commitment and athleticism, this class will help fill the void left by Dana and Val and they will also be a springboard to excellence for Michigan State volleyball over the next four years.

"This could also be the top recruiting class in the nation because of its depth, experience and future potential."

SARAH GUSTIN, a 6-3 middle from Hesperia, Calif., is a Second-Team High School All- American and Fab 50 selection by Volleyball Magazine. A four-year letterwinner at Hesperia Christian, she was the California Interscholastic Federation (C.I.F.) Player of the Year in 1996. A three-time league MVP, she was named the San Bernardino Sun County Player of the Year in 1996 and the Daily Press Volleyball Player of the Year in 1996.

Gustin, class valedictorian, earned All-America honors for the Asics Tiger Volleyball Club (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.) last season. She now plays for the Nike Ichiban Volleyball Club (Long Beach, CA), the defending Junior Olympic National Champions (18-and-under).

"Sarah has more than been discovered on a national level," Erbe said. "She is the potential heir apparent to Val Sterk. She has a similar background to Val, with the size, athleticism and intelligence we want in the middle position. Sarah is another potential All-American for Michigan State."

CHRISTIE LANDRY, is a 6-2 outside hitter from Naperville, III. She was a three-time all-state and four-year all-conference honoree at St. Francis of Wheaton High School. Landry, who was the 1996 Chicago Sun Times Player of the Year as a senior, earned Honorable Mention High School All-America honors from Volleyball Magazine. The National Honor Society member is also a Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selection. Landry plays for Sports Performance, one of the top volleyball clubs in the nation. She is a two-time USA Volleyball All-American for the perennial national contenders.

"Christie is the best high school volleyball player in the nation," Erbe says. "She has highly developed skills and has the best understanding of the game of volleyball at this age that I've ever seen. She will make immediate contributions to the program and is another potential All-American for Michigan State."

JESSICA SANBORN, a 6-2 middle from Colbert, Wash., is another Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selection for the Spartans. A three-year letterwinner at Mead High, Sanborn guided the Panthers to a regional title in 1996. A National Honor Society member, she earned first-team all-league and league MVP honors as a senior.

Sanborn is a member of the Inland Empire Volleyball Club (Sandpoint, ID) that captured the 1995 regional championship and qualified for the open division nationals twice.

"Jessica is the icing on the cake in this recruiting class," says Erbe. "She has a tremendous competitive attitude and she is just beginning to scratch the surface of her potential. I feel she will be a future leader and potential All-American in our program."

MAREN WITZEL, a 6-0 middle from Palmer, Alaska, rounds out the Spartan recruiting class. She is a four-year letterwinner at Colony High where she was a first-team all-region honoree as a junior. Witzel has guided the Knights to a record of 63-13 heading into her final season. She has played for the Midnight Sun Volleyball Club 18-and-under elite team for three years.

Witzel, who recently guided her basketball team to a state championship, is a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society and has been a member of the student government for four years.

"Maren is potentially the best athlete of this class, but is the least known on a national level," Erbe said. "She is a great athlete with an excellent competitive demeanor, who has a great future at Michigan State."

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