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Dec. 7, 2005

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – University of Virginia head volleyball coach Melissa Aldrich Shelton has announced that Lauren Dickson (Austin, Texas/Westlake) and Tara Hester (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) have signed national letters of intent to attend the University of Virginia and play volleyball for the Cavaliers beginning in the 2006-2007 academic year.

Dickson is a 6-1 outside hitter from Austin, Texas, and was a two-year starter on the Westlake High School volleyball team. She helped lead the Chaps to the Texas 5A State Championship in 2004 and to the title match of the state championship in 2005. She was named to the All-Tournament Team at the 2005 Texas 5A State tourney. Dickson is a 2005 Texas Girl’s Coaching Association All-State selection and a two-time first-team All-District 16-5A pick. She holds Westlake’s records for kills in a season (583), match (29 – twice), and career (1,002). The last two seasons, Dickson was named to the All-Tournament teams at the Pearland Tournament, Fraulein Volleyfest, and Duncanville Tournament of Champions. She was the Most Valuable Hitter at the Pearland Tournament this season and the Most Valuable Attacker at the 2004 Duncanville Tournament of Champions.

In 2004, Dickson was named to the Austin American Statesman All-Centex First Team and to the LoneStar Volleyball All-Texas Second Team. She led Westlake in kills (375) and digs (349) as a junior.

In the classroom, Dickson is a 2005 Academic All-State selection and was an All-District honoree in 2003 and 2004. She is a National Honor Society member as well as a National Merit Commended Scholar.

Dickson is 44th on’s top 100 recruits for 2006. She was also rated in the top 50 on the 2006 Senior Aces list in January of 2005. Dickson plays club volleyball for the Austin Juniors Volleyball Club and helped her team finish fifth in the Girls 17 Open Division of the 2005 Junior Olympic Championship.

“Lauren is a perfect fit for the University of Virginia both on and off the court,” said Shelton. “In the gym, she is a powerhouse hitter who will immediately challenge for playing time. She is also a very strong passer and blocker. Off the court she is a terrific student who has excelled in several leadership positions at her high school. I’m thrilled Lauren chose to become a ‘Hoo and I believe her future as a student-athlete is very bright.”

Hester is a 5-11 outside hitter from Naperville, Ill., and a three-year starter on Naperville Central’s volleyball team. Hester helped lead Naperville Central to the 2005 Illinois Class AA State Championship as well as the DuPage Valley Conference Championship. She was named to the 2005 Chicago Tribune All-State First Team and is a two-time Chicago Sun Times First Team All-Area selection. Also in 2005, Hester was named the Gazette (Champaign, Ill.) Player of the Year and to the Gazette’s All-State First Team in 2004 and 2005. She received All-Tournament team honors for her play during the St. Charles East Mizuno Cup and the Glenbard East Autumn Fest in 2005. She was named to the Glenbard All-Tournament team in 2004 as well.

Hester is a three-time Daily Herald All-Area First Team selection as well as a three-time Naperville Sun All-City First Team pick. A three-time DuPage Valley Conference honoree, Hester was a unanimous selection in 2004 and 2005.

Off the court, Hester is a three-time DuPage Valley Conference All-Academic Team selection and is a two-year member of the National Honor Society.

Hester has played for the Sports Performance Volleyball Club the past three years. She helped lead the team to a first-place finish in the 2005 USAVB National Championship in the 18-Open Division. Hester also helped Sports Performance to the 2005 AAU National Championship in the 18-year old division. She was selected as a 2004 AAU All-American after helping Sports Performance to first place in the 16-year old division.

“Tara is the quintessential all-around volleyball player,” noted Shelton. “She is strong in every single skill and is an extremely steady player. She has the height and jumping ability to be a strong hitter in the ACC as well as the training and desire to be a force in the back row. Tara is also a great performer in the classroom and she will fit right in with the student-body at large. Tara slipped under the recruiting radar last year because of an injury and I believe our team is very lucky that she decided to join us.”

“Both Lauren and Tara come from high level experiences in high school and club,” Shelton said. “They’ll both have to fight with our returners to earn playing time, but each one is more than capable of contributing to our efforts on the court during their first year. I am looking forward to adding their personalities and skills to our team next August. They are both the type of competitor that will help us achieve great things as a program.”

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