FORT MYERS, Fla. – Coming off winning the ASUN title and advancing to the NCAA Tournament second round, FGCU head coach Matt Botsford has announced a trio of incoming newcomers to join the program this upcoming fall. Middle blocker Iyanna Battleoutside hitter Rylen Reidand setter Grace Reynolds will all join the program as incoming freshmen next semester.
The trio will join a strong returning lineup for the 2022 season headlined by two-time ASUN Player of the Year Erin Shoemaker as well as Dana Axner spirit Chelsey Lockey who were all-conference selections last season as well as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and Setter of the Year previously in their careers, respectively.
Iyanna Battle | Middle Blocker | 6-0 | Painesville Township, Ohio | Villa Angela-St. Joseph HS
As a senior, tallied 167 kills with a .221 hitting percentage through 73 sets as a senior under head coach Ellen Cvelbar at Villa Angela-St. Joseph HS … Added 85 total blocks along with 42 solo blocks … Also played for the Academy Volleyball Club under John Matsumoto and Brian Ford.
Head Coach Matt Botsford on Battle:
“Iyanna was a late addition to this class and we are so excited that she will be joining the Green and Blue. While she is still relatively new to the sport, her development over the past year highlights the trajectory that she is on. Her height above the net is as good as anyone we have had here and I suspect that those physical gifts coupled with her work ethic and instincts will position Iyanna to excel.”
Rylen Reid | Outside Hitter | 6-0 | Rolling Meadows, Illinois | Fremd HS
Led Fremd HS under the direction of head coach Curt Pinley to a 37-3 overall record this past fall where she had 403 kills which ranked as the 16th most in Illinois as a senior … For her career, she tallied 901 kills and 105 aces in three full seasons … A two-time All-Illinois selection … As a senior, was the West Co-Player of the Year, and All-Area honoree, and an all-conference selection … As a sophomore in 2019, named the West Player of the Year and was an all-conference and all-area pick … In 2019 and 2021, named to the PrepVB Top 150 players in the nation … In 2021, was honored as one of the top 10 players in Illinois by PrepDig. … Also played for Adversity Volleyball Club on the Adidas 18 squad coached by Melissa Masterson … Mother played volleyball at Eastern Illinois.
Head Coach Matt Botsford on Reid:
“Rylen is a dynamic six-rotation player that is going to be a wonderful addition to our program. She has excellent feet as an attacker to go along with great vision, which will put her in position to be a consistent point scorer at the college level. She also has great platform skills which will make transitioning into the serve-receive phase faster and more efficient. I have always loved the way Rylen plays the game in terms of her competitive drive and passion and I’m looking forward to her bringing that energy into our gym.”
Grace Reynolds | Sets | 5-9 | Martinsville, Indiana | Martinsville HS
A first team All-American and All-Indiana selection in her career at Martinville HS under head coach Kayla Back … A three-time all-conference selection who compiled 3,443 career assists, 219 aces, 1,317 digs, and 339 kills … As a senior , had 882 assists, 379 digs, 131 kills, and 66 aces … Helped Martinsville win back-to-back conference championships in 2020 and 2021 while also winning sectionals in 2020 … Was a junior and senior all-star and named one of the IHSSA Best and Brightest … Additionally, was an Academic All-Indiana selection as well as a Mid-State Scholar … Played club volleyball for the Circle City Purple 18-1s Mafia under head coach Scott McQueen … Has an athletic family as two of her sisters play volleyball and IUPUI and Franklin College, while her brother is currently playing football at Rose Hulman.
Head Coach Matt Botsford on Reynolds:
“Grace is a highly decorated prep setter with a ton of top level competition under her belt. She is a competitor and knows how to win. Her athleticism within the position is what really stood out early as she is able to create for her attackers utilizing that speed and strength. Grace is also a phenomenal floor defender on top of her ability to manage the net very well as a blocker. The combined skillset that she brings to the setting role will allow Grace to make a big impact at the next level and I am really looking forward to working with her.”
The Eagles are coming off a historic season which saw FGCU post a 27-6 overall record en route to the ASUN Championship Title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. In the NCAA First Round, the Green and Blue was able to rally past Texas Tech but fell in the second round against eventual national champion Wisconsin. The championship title and NCAA berth marked the second time in program history (2018) for the Eagles to accomplish both.
The 27 wins tied the program record, alongside the 2016 and 2018 teams, while FGCU also posted its best-ever RPI at No. 31 during the year. Over the last five seasons, the Eagles have the 12th most wins of any team in the country with 144 which is more than Stanford, Penn State, and Washington, but just behind Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The Eagles are set to return 12 newcomers this upcoming season, including three of their top-five point producers.
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Matt Botsford is in his eighth season as head coach of the FGCU women’s volleyball program in 2021 after being hired on Feb. 10, 2014. In his tenure, Botsford-led teams have compiled a 184-59 (.757) record overall, including a 96-20 (.827) record in ASUN play. Including this past year’s unprecedented spring season, he has taken the program to heights it has not seen in the Division-I era (2007-present) – registering at least 20 wins overall in six of the past seven seasons and at least 10 wins in conference play every season. In 2018, he led the program to its first regular season championship since 2012 (fourth overall) and its first-ever ASUN tournament title, NCAA tournament appearance, NCAA tournament win and victory over a ranked team. His first two campaigns resulted in ASUN regular season runner-up finishes, and the following two saw the Eagles advance to the tournament championship and now the team has won three straight regular season titles, including a division title and ASUN tournament runner-up finish in the spring 2021 season. Wed Sept. 10, 2016, Botsford led his team to a five-set win over Indiana in Alico Arena, which signified the program’s first-ever win over a team from a Power-5 conference. In 2018, he led the team to a win over Miami (Fla.) – the program’s first-ever road Power 5 win, and the Eagles followed that up with a straight-set win over the Hurricanes at a neutral site in 2019.
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 87 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 14+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just nine seasons of DI postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 43 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 25, 2021-22), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2021) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as three of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green and Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the general university undergraduate population for 24 consecutive semesters. The 2019 Fall, 2020 Spring, 2020 Fall, and 2021 Spring semesters each saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher team GPA in each. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.