By: NU Athletic Communications
Lincoln, Neb. -- The Nebraska volleyball program and Head Coach John Cook announced the 2021 signing class on Wednesday. The Huskers' class is ranked No. 1 by PrepVolleyball.com and all six signees are ranked in the top 70 nationally by the site. The stacked class includes five of the top 16, four of the top 10 and all of the top three recruits. Nebraska is the only school that is expected to sign more than two top-16 recruits this signing period, according to PrepVolleyball.com. The class also includes three Nebraska natives, something Cook boasted about.
"The state of Nebraska produces some of the best volleyball talent in the country," Cook said. "We are committed to keeping the top kids here to play at home."
Outside hitter Ally Batenhorst (Houston, Texas), middle blocker Rylee Gray (Elkhorn, Neb.), outside hitter Lindsay Krause (Papillion, Neb.), outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein (Waverly, Neb.), setter Kennedi Orr (Eagan, Minn.) and defensive specialist/libero Lexi Rodriguez (Sterling, Ill.) make up this year's signing class.
"In the summer of 2017, we decided to run a camp and call it the Dream Team Camp," Cook said. "We invited our top recruits in the class of 2021. Well, a little over three years later, their signing day has now arrived. All of them have taken different paths to get to this point and some verbally committed at the camp or soon after. The three days of camp were awesome. Bonds were formed and intensity was high. We had a blast coaching the kids at the camp. We have enjoyed watching their development over the last three years and getting to know them as student-athletes.
"Because of their accomplishments on the national and world stage, the expectations will be very high, but that is why you go to Nebraska. When they start in 2021, they will be freshmen, figuring out how to be away from home, adjust to college life and Husker volleyball. We will make sure they 'Dream Big' and understand the song lyrics, 'To whom much is given, much is tested.'
"We look forward to getting them all on campus and start building a team that embraces working together and building ultimate trust. At Nebraska we get everybody's best shot and that is why we say, 'the only easy day was yesterday.'
"Husker Nation will have fun following the journey of this large recruiting class. They are talented, passionate and driven to excel on and off the court."
Batenhorst is ranked the No. 3 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com and the No. 2 outside hitter. The Houston, Texas, native has played four varsity seasons for Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas.
To date, Batenhorst has played in 400 career sets. She has recorded 2,143 kills, 242 blocks, 1,232 digs and 160 aces. As a senior, she's hitting .366 and is averaging 6.5 kills per set, which are both on pace for career-best totals.
A two-time MaxPreps Underclass All-American and a first-team Under Armour All-American, Batenhorst was on the 2020 USA National Training Team. In 2019, she was named a PrepVolleyball.com All-American. In 2018, Batenhorst helped the USA 18U National Team win the gold medal at the NORCECA Volleyball Championships in Honduras. In 2017, Batenhorst was named PrepVolleyball.com's National Freshman of the Year in addition to earning All-America accolades from the site. Batenhorst also ran track and won several awards in the high jump for Seven Lakes High School. Outside of athletics, she is a member of the National Honor Society and is a mentor for PAL (Peer Assistance & Leadership). In 2020, she earned academic all-state honors. Batenhorst is active in her community and has coached young athletes, volunteered at events through her church and has helped with hurricane Harvey and flood relief efforts.
Batenhorst was born on July 26, 2002, in Omaha, Neb. She is the daughter of Kurt and Susan Batenhorst. Susan attended UNL and Kurt played basketball and ran track at Nebraska-Wesleyan. Batenhorst has two sisters, Casey and Danielle. Casey is a junior on the volleyball team at Seven Lakes High School, while Danielle plays volleyball for Gonzaga.
Gray played four varsity seasons for Elkhorn South High School in Elkhorn, Neb., and advanced to the state tournament all four years. A middle blocker, Gray helped the Storm win the district title in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and the metro conference championship in 2019 and 2020. In 2020, Gray hit a career-best .442 and helped the Storm earn the No. 1 seed in the Class A State Tournament and win the state title after just two seasons in Class A.
The 6-4 standout was named to the all-metro team in 2018 and 2019. Gray also was an all-class pick as a sophomore and a junior, even with Elkhorn South's move from Class B to Class A for the 2019 season. In the Storm's first season in Class A, Gray hit .408 and averaged 3.3 kills per set. She also totaled 43 aces and 99 digs for Elkhorn South as a junior.
Gray finished her career with 1,383 kills, 476 blocks and a hitting percentage of .423. She played in 406 sets and also had 75 aces.
Gray also played basketball and ran track for the Storm. Off the court, she is a member of the National Honor Society and earned academic all-state honors in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Gray is active in her church and has volunteered with Relay for Life since the age of 13.
Gray was born on Sept. 22, 2002, in Omaha, Neb. She is the daughter of Scott and Deb Gray. She has one sister, Skylar.
Krause is ranked the No. 2 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com. She played four seasons for Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, Neb. The outside hitter led the SkyHawks to four straight Class B state titles in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The outside hitter was named the 2019-20 Nebraska Volleyball Gatorade Player of the Year after hitting .418 with 360 kills, 152 digs and 28 blocks as a junior in 2019. The three-time all-conference pick was named to the Omaha World Herald All-Nebraska First Team and the Lincoln Journal Star Super-State First Team in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Krause finished her career with 1,449 kills and 135 solo blocks in 338 sets played. Krause hit .411 which included a career-best .475 as a senior in 2020.
Krause played club volleyball for Premier Nebraska and was a member of the 2019 USA 18U National Team that won the FIVB Volleyball Girls' U18 World Championship in Egypt.
Krause also played basketball for Skutt and was an all-state honorable mention in 2018 and 2019. In the classroom, she earned academic all-state honors, academic all-conference honors and has been named to the Skutt Catholic Honor Roll.
Krause was born on Dec. 11, 2002, in Omaha, Neb. She is the daughter of Pat Krause and JoAnna Draper. She has two brothers, Conner and Landon.
Lauenstein (pronounced LAWN-steen) is ranked the No. 16 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com and is the No. 2 player in her class in the state of the Nebraska. An outside hitter, Lauenstein played three varsity seasons for Waverly High School in Waverly, Neb., and helped the Vikings reach the Class B State Tournament all three seasons.
Lauenstein played 281 sets for the Vikings and finished with 1,366 career kills, 121 blocks, 740 digs and 87 aces, while hitting .338. As a junior in 2019, Lauenstein hit a career-best .407 and was named to the Class B All-Tournament Team at the state championships. Following her impressive season, she was named to the Lincoln Journal Star Super-State First Team.
Lauenstein was a two-time Class B all-state pick, earning first-team honors as a junior in 2019 and second-team honors as a sophomore in 2018. She was named to the all-conference teams in 2018 and 2019. Lauenstein played club for VC Nebraska.
Lauenstein also ran track for the Vikings. In the community, Lauenstein has volunteered with the Matt Talbott kitchen and with her high school team.
The daughter of Ryan and Carla Lauenstein, she was born on Sept. 24, 2002. She has one older brother, Tyler and two younger sisters, Hallie and Gracie.
Orr is ranked the No. 1 recruit in the nation. The Minnesota native has been the starting setter for Eagan High School since the end of her seventh-grade season. A two-time Minnesota Volleyball Gatorade Player of the Year, Orr led the Wildcats to five straight state championship matches, which included two state titles in 2015 and 2016.
As a junior in 2019, Orr finished with 405 assists, 242 kills and 204 digs. The setter also recorded 43 blocks and 32 aces while hitting .414. In 2018, Orr finished with 411 assists, 380 kills, 230 digs and 68 blocks.
Orr has been a star on the international level as well. In 2019, she helped the USA 18U National Team win the FIVB Girls' U18 World Championships in Egypt and was named the best setter at the event. In 2018, she helped Team USA win the gold medal at NORCECA in Honduras, while also being named the best setter at the event. Additionally, she was a member of the 2018 USA Volleyball Junior Olympics National Championship Team and was named the MVP.
Off the field, Orr has volunteered with Spare Key, an organization that raises money for families with children in the hospital.
Orr was born on Nov. 7, 2002, in Eagan, Minn. She is the daughter of Lorenzo and Gretchen Orr, and has one sister, Brie.
Rodriguez is the No. 10 overall prospect according to PrepVolleyball.com and is ranked the No. 1 player in her position group as well as in the state of Illinois. The defensive specialist played three seasons on varsity for Sterling High School before her senior season was cancelled. However, despite not getting a senior season, Rodriguez set the Sterling High School record for career digs after finishing with 1,618. She also set the school record for single-match digs and single-season digs. A two-time MaxPreps Underclass All-American, Rodriguez finished with 120 career aces and averaged 7.2 digs per set.
The 2019-20 Illinois Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year led the Golden Warriors to a pair of Illinois 3A State titles in 2018 and 2019. She was named the best volleyball player in the state by MaxPreps in 2020 and was a first-team all-conference pick all three years. Rodriguez was named to the Champaign News Gazette's All-State Team and the Sauk Valley Media All-Area Team three times.
On the international stage, Rodriguez was a member of the 2020 US Women's Junior National Training Team and was a member of the 2019 USA 18U National Team that won the FIVB Volleyball Girls' U18 World Championship in Egypt.
A three-time AAU All-American, Rodriguez played club for Sports Performance and Fusion. She was a four-time national finalist and a three-time national champion in the open division.
Off the court, Rodriguez has spent three years as the Sterling High School Student Body President and holds a 3.8 cumulative GPA. Rodriguez is also an active volunteer in her community and through the Sterling School Foundation.
Rodriguez was born on March 11, 2003, in Sterling, Ill., and is the daughter of Chris and Crystal Rodriguez. She has one older sister, Kaylee Martin, who plays volleyball for Illinois State.