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Apr 05, 2023

Simpson Kirr Inks Seven to 2023 Class

CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson volleyball head coach Jackie Simpson Kirr has announced the addition of seven signees to the incoming class of 2023 on Wednesday. This is Simpson Kirr’s second signing class at the helm of the Clemson program. The seven additions: Audrey Armbruster, Mckenna Gildon, Ava Hewitt-Smith, Courtney Nix, Kitty Sandt, Kate Simington and Kennedy Wagner, join mid-year transfers Katie Culumovic (Mississippi State), Katie Hurta (Penn State) and Adria Powell (Ohio State), as newcomers for the 2023 fall season.

“The 2023 class spans every skill position and will provide great depth for our program,” said Simpson Kirr. “They are from all over the country, but the common thread is their passion for the sport of volleyball, and that they all have been a part of championship teams at either the high school or club level. They all know what it takes to win at a high level.”

Audrey Armbruster · Setter/Outside · Cincinnati, Ohio · Mount Notre Dame HS

  • Named team captain of Mount Notre Dame HS in 2020
  • On the JVA Watchlist (2021 & 2022)
  • Played club ball for the NKYVC (2014-18)
  • Member of the Elevation Club Team from 2018-23
  • Helped guide Elevation to being OVR Champions in 2021 & 2022

Simpson Kirr said: “Audrey will provide great depth to our program with an ability to set and run an offense but also play six rotations as an attacker. Her passion for the sport is evident, and she is a very composed competitor that will be a great addition to our gym.”

Mckenna Gildon · Libero/Defensive Specialist · Plano, Texas · Liberty HS

  • Ranked as the second-highest libero by Prep Dig for Class of 2023
  • Participated in the 2021 Fall Training Camp with the National Team Development Program
  • Played club for Madfrog and TAV
  • Selected as a team captain of the 16s and 17s with TAV
  • Helped TAV become Mid-East Qualifiers and 17 Open Champions
  • Member of TAV that became NEQ and Northern Lights Champions and USAV 16 Open Champions
  • Tallied multiple champion titles while competing with TAV for 12-15s

Simpson Kirr stated: “Mckenna has a super smooth platform in serve receive. She is a gritty defender and will bring a lot of fight to our back court defensively.”

Ava Hewitt-Smith · Middle Hitter · View Park, Calif. · Sierra Canyon HS

  • Appeared in 96 sets her senior season at Sierra Canyon with 107 kills on 244 attempts
  • Maintained a .395 hitting percentage as a junior tallying 153 kills through 96 sets
  • Finished high school with 260 kills, 153 blocks (14 solo) and one ace
  • Clocked 26 digs and seven assists in high school
  • Played club volleyball with City Volleyball Club

Simpson Kirr stated: “Ava is a versatile attacker who plays as a middle or pin attacker. She is dynamic on the attack. She is such a fun player to watch compete and is always bringing great energy to her team.”

Courtney Nix · Libero/Defensive Specialist · Harrisburg, N.C. · Cannon School

  • Was a First Team All-State selection 2019-21
  • Helped lead Cannon School to being NCISAA Volleyball State Championship Runner-Ups in 2020
  • 2021 AVCA Phenom Watchlist and JVA Watch List (2020-22)
  • 2019-22 Prep Volleyball Frosh 59
  • Guided CUVC 17 Premier Bid to club’s first USAC Nationals berth in 2022
  • Helped CUVC capture multiple first-place finishes, including JVA Challenge and K2 18 Open

According to Simpson Kirr: “Courtney beautifully balances the internal drive to pursue personal excellence with the ability to give to and inspire those around her. Her communication, effort and drive allows her to flow into seams as a passer and defender.”

Kitty Sandt · Setter · Western Springs, Ill. · Nazareth Academy HS

  • Helped guide Nazareth Academy to a state title in 2021
  • Named a 2021 All-State Second Team and All-Conference selection
  • Selected as an AAU All-American in 2021
  • Also, a JVA All-American in 2019
  • Guided Nazareth Academy to a third place finish at state in 2019
  • Played club for Sports Performance
  • Was a team captain and guided Sports Performance to a second place finish at the AAU National Championship in 2021

Simpson Kirr said: “Kitty is a smooth setter who can reverse flow with ease to set either pin from anywhere on the court. She is also a strong block and defender who can make big time plays for her team on the defensive side of the ball.”

Kate Simington · Middle Hitter · Excelsior, Minn. · Minnetonka HS

  • 2023 Prep Volleyball 2023 Watchlist (2018-22)
  • AAU Academic All-American (2022)
  • JVA Watchlist (2018-22)
  • Under Armour All-American Invite (2021 & 2022)
  • Selected as Minnetonka HS’s captain in 2022-23
  • Played club for MN Select 17-1 and helped them to a second-place finish in 17 Open at GNC
  • Named an All-Tournament selection by Volleyball Magazine
  • Honor Roll selection every semester

According to Simpson Kirr: “Kate is laser focused and super passionate as a competitor. She works very hard away from the ball to always be an option as an attack off one or two feet. She reads opponents’ setters well, always finding a way to close blocks pin to pin.”

Kennedy Wagner · Outside · Valparaiso, Ind. · Valparaiso HS

  • An AVCA All-Region selection in 2022
  • AVCA Second Team All-State (2022)
  • Conference MVP in 2022
  • Set Valparaiso HS’s school record for kills in a single match, in a single-season and for a career
  • Surpassed 1,000 career kills in 2021 and 2,000 career kills in 2022
  • Post Tribune Player of the Year (2022)
  • An All-District and All-Conference player all four years of high school
  • Class 3A/4A Senior North All-Star Team
  • Played for 1st Alliance Volleyball club
  • Guided her club team to become USVA National Champions in 2022
  • Named USVA National MVP (2022)
  • Helped guide club team to numerous other victories, including President Date Saint Louis Champs in 2021

Simpson Kirr stated: “Kennedy is a true six-rotation pin attacker. She can do it all. She is an aggressive and efficient attacker from anywhere on the net, a strong passer and a great communicator. Kennedy is fun to watch play the game.”

The current volleyball team is training and participating in spring semester scrimmages. The team has two scrimmages left, including a trip to College of Charleston (April 9) and at home vs. Wofford (April 14). Both scrimmages are free and open to the public. Fans are encouraged to attend the final spring scrimmage on April 14 inside Jervey Gym beginning at 5 p.m.