Bulldog volleyball signs four

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

Louisiana Tech volleyball head coach Amber McCray announced the addition of four student-athletes to the Bulldog program during the early signing period Sunday.

LA Tech added outside hitter Gabrielle Hairston (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster HS), middle blocker Rori Gray (Washington, D.C./Jackson-Reed Senior HS), defensive specialist Shelby Groat-Hannah (Cullman, Ala./ICL Academy), and right-side hitter Sydnee Rodriguez (Cibolo, Texas/ Byron P Steel HS).

Hairston, a 6-0 Lancaster product, is a three-time All-District performer for Kristine Presley at Lancaster High School.

“We are thrilled about the fire and physicality Gabby adds to our gym. It has been so exciting to watch her develop over the years into a dominant presence on the net at either pin. Her explosive approach and power will make her an offensive threat, while also possessing the ability to be a shut-down blocker for us. We can’t wait to have her grit competing in our gym every day, and not to mention to have the Hairston sisters together once again.”

Hairston earned Freshman of the Year in 2020, Offensive Player of the Year in 2022, and won the district title in 2020.

“I choose Tech because it felt like a home away from home. Everyone is nice and kind. Coach McCray was one of the most loyal coaches who seen and believed in me and my potential. The university has great programs for my major and has a lot of opportunities for my career. I got a along with the players and new it was where I wanted to be from the moment I first visited.”

Her older sister, Anaya, currently plays volleyball for LA Tech. 

Hairston had 259 kills, 173 digs, and 52 blocks during her senior season at Lancaster. 

Gray is a 6-3 middle blocker for Washington, D.C. powerhouse Jackson-Reed and coach Dr. Perette Arrington. 

“Rori brings size and athleticism that will match up well with our opponents in C-USA. Her long frame enables her to cover significant ground quickly on the block and allows her to play the game at a height most people simply can’t reach when she’s attacking. Playing for a nationally ranked club program and one of the top clubs in the DMV has provided her with experience that will serve her well here at Tech, and we can’t wait to see how she impacts our program and continues to develop with such an incredibly high ceiling.”

Gray and Jackson-Reed were runner-up in the DCSAA Championship.

“LA Tech is a tech school which is what I’ve been looking for regarding what I want to study and do after college, and it’s also a very good school then I really enjoyed my visit.”

Groat-Hannah, a 5-4 defensive specialist from Cullman, Ala. and played AAU for Alabama Performance. 

“Shelby is exactly the type of spark plug a coach looks for when recruiting a libero/defensive specialist, in addition to a having a solid platform. She has the range to make plays on all the balls near her and the speed to run down balls that are not. She is also the type of player who LOVES training and being in the gym, and it just oozes out of her through her level of relentless pursuit and how she plays the game.”

Groat-Hannah is a member of the National Honor Society.

“It had a very welcoming and fun culture and seemed like everyone there wanted to work hard for each other! I wanted a place where I could grow not just as a volleyball player but as a person too and I felt tech was the right place for that! I loved what the school had to offer academically, especially in the major I intend to go into!”

Rodriguez is a 5-10 right side hitter for Byron P. Steel High School and coach Jordan Madill in Cibolo, Texas. 

“Sydnee is a player who is just fun to watch compete because of the confidence and joy she plays the game with. Her versatility with extended experience in the middle and on the right side allows her to find success on a variety of different set tempos. She has also impressed us with her smart shot selection and pure ability to score, both of which will be valuable assets in our gym.”

Rodriguez is a two-time First Team All-District performer, earned Second Team honors her sophomore season, and Honorable Mention during her freshman campaign. She is also a four-time Academic All-District performer.

Rodriguez finished with 210 kills and 143 blocks her junior season.

“Felt like home! Immediately fell in love with the team, the campus, and the people. It was the easiest yes ever!”