Ball State signs recruits from non-traditional volleyball hotbeds Texas, South Carolina

An all-state selection and two players who led their club teams to appearances at the USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championship will join Ball State.

Ball State coach Joel Walton announced last week that high school seniors Nick Martinski, Kaleb Jenness and Brandon Shepard have committed to play for the Cardinals beginning in the 2019 season.

“These three players will be strong additions to next year’s team,” Walton said in a statement. “They will be able to replace two middles and one outside attacker who will finish up their eligibility this season. We are excited to add them to our team.”

Martinski, 6-foot-7 middle attacker from Elk Grove, Illinois, earned first-team all-state honors as a junior last season after having more than 100 blocks and 250 kills. He also was selected as the team captain and ended the high school season with 39 aces.

Jenness, a 6-foot-6 outside attacker from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, helped his club team earn at top-20 finish at the recent USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championship. Along with play outside attacker, Walton said in a statement that Jenness has the capabilities to play opposite and setter at the college level.

Shepard, an outside attacker from Pearland, Texas, helped his club team achieve back-to-back top-15 finishes at the USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championship during the last two years. In addition, Shepard was named to the 2017 Boys’ Southwest Tour All-Tournament Team and made the Texoma Boys Regional Team.

Both Jenness and Shepard are the first players from South Carolina and Texas to play for Ball State in the program’s 58-year history.

Ball State finished last season in fourth place in the MIVA and in the conference tournament semifinals almost upset the eventual NCAA champions Ohio State before losing five games. Among the starters returning for the Cardinals in the upcoming season includes Preseason All-American middle attacker Matt Walsh.