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Nov. 20, 2003

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – University of Virginia head volleyball coach Melissa Aldrich Shelton has announced that Melissa Caldwell (Houston, Texas/Stratford), Sarah Kirkwood (Tampa, Fla./Plant), Katie Oakes (Lorton, Va./Evangel Christian School) and Beth Shelton (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Ursula Academy) have signed national letters of intent to attend the University of Virginia and play volleyball for the Cavaliers beginning in the 2004-2005 academic year.

Caldwell is a 5-9 libero from Houston, Texas. Caldwell plays middle blocker for Stratford High School and outside hitter for the Texas Tornadoes club team. She will play in Stratford’s third consecutive state final four (5A) this weekend. The 2003 team captain was an All-District pick in 2002 while helping Stratford finish second in the Texas 5A State Championship. In 2003, Caldwell was selected as the Most Valuable Hitter in the SBISD Tournament and the Cy-Fair Tournament, and was also named to the Pearland All-Tournament team. She is a National Merit Commended Scholar.

“Melissa is a dynamite athlete with experience in several positions, however, we will be training her exclusively as a libero. She has the skills, quickness, and most importantly the internal fire to excel in this spot for us,” said Shelton.

Kirkwood, a 6-0 outside hitter from Tampa, Fla., is the sister of current UVa first-year setter Emily Kirkwood. Kirkwood led Plant High School to the 2003 5A Florida State Championship after helping the team to the 4A State titles in 2001 and 2002. She is ranked as the 18th-best outside hitter recruit in the class of 2004 by The 2002 High School All-American is a two-time first-team All-State pick (2001 and 2002). She is also a 2000 and 2001 All-American swimmer in the 50 freestyle. Kirkwood plays club volleyball for the Tampa Bay Juniors and was named to the 2002 17 Open USAV All-Tournament Team. Kirkwood is a National Merit Commended Scholar.

“Sarah is a dynamite outside hitter who has a knack for getting kills in clutch situations. Her fiery competitive nature will be an asset to our team right away,” noted Shelton.

Oakes is a 6-1 middle blocker from Lorton, Va. She led Evangel Christian School to Old Dominion Association of Church Schools (ODACS) state titles in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Oakes was named the MVP of the ODACS Tournament in 2002 and 2003 after being selected to the All-Tournament Team in 2001. She helped lead Evangel Christian to the Mid-East Region of Church Schools (MERCS) Tournament championship in 2003 and was selected as the MVP. Oakes also excels in basketball and is a two-time ODACS MVP after leading her team to the ODAC Tournament title in 2003 and 2003. She serves as the senior class president after serving after the junior class president. Oakes is also active in choir, cheerleading and the school newspaper. She plays club volleyball for NOVA Volleyball Club.

“A natural athlete, Katie has all the tools to become a major player at the collegiate level. We are very fortunate to have found this talented sleeper right under our noses in Virginia,” Shelton said.

Shelton is a 6-0 outside hitter from Cincinnati, Ohio. She was the starting outside hitter for 17 Open and 16 Open USAV Junior National champions in 2003 and 2002, respectively, and was named to the 16 Open 2002 USAV Junior Nationals All-Tournament Team. Shelton helped lead St. Ursula Academy to the 2003 High School National Championship and is ranked as the 33rd-best outside hitter in the class of 2004 by St. Ursula Academy won the 2001 and 2003 Division I Ohio State Championship after finishing as the runner-up in 2002. Shelton is a four-time All-State selection, including second-team honors in 2003.

“Beth is an accomplished player who brings a complete game to the court. She can terminate from all areas of the net and she handles the ball like a pro. Her steady court demeanor and team outlook will make her an integral member of our squad,” Shelton stated.

“This is a tremendous class for Virginia volleyball. The four signees meet our needs in terms of generating points with big swings and blocks as well as adding to the depth of our ball control. All four are terrific students and accomplished leaders, perfect fits for the University and our program. This class gets us one step closer to winning the ACC and being a contender on the national scene.”

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