STHS volleyball player to play for up-and-coming Division II program |

STHS volleyball player to play for up-and-coming Division II program

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune Bob and Pam Bettencourt with their daughter Jessica as she signs her letter of intent to Seattle Pacific University. Looking on are Don Borges, left, and former STHS volleyball coach Gary Hankoff.

Jessica Bettencourt wasn’t sold on Seattle Pacific University until she visited the Pacific Northwest. Then it became an easy decision.

“There is so much for me to do in Seattle,” said the South Tahoe High School senior. “It’s just like Tahoe. There is skiing 45 minutes away. There are beaches to play beach volleyball. But it’s the people that really made the difference. It’s an awesome place.”

Bettencourt signed a national letter of intent with the NCAA Division II school this week and the 5-foot-11 front-row player will look to improve a program that went 22-6 last year and tied for first in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The Falcons qualified for the NCAA tournament for the third time in six years and finished No. 16 in the final coaches poll.

Seattle Pacific loses two seniors off last year’s team and boasts a recruiting class that includes Kylie Johnson (Tucson, Ariz.) and Robin DeJong (Goleta, Calif.). Both Johnson and DeJong are standout middles like Bettencourt.

Falcons’ head coach Chris Johnson will be entering his second season with Seattle Pacific next fall, and former STHS volleyball coach Gary Hankoff thinks he will be pleased with the program’s newest addition from the Tahoe area.

“I think she’s a Division I player physically,” Hankoff said of Bettencourt. “The thing that really held her back was her footwork and blocking. Those were her only real weaknesses. If she can get those things straightened out, she can be an impact player in that conference.”

Bettencourt was named to the Sierra Division’s first team last season after helping lead the Vikings to a 25-10 record and a berth in the Northern 4A semifinals. She led the team in kills (237) and kills per game (2.25). As a junior, she led the team in kills (121) and was named to the division’s second team.

Although her high school numbers were impressive, Bettencourt’s performance with Hankoff’s Sierra Nevada Volleyball Club is what attracted Seattle Pacific. Coach Johnson noticed Bettencourt at a tournament in Denver and began recruiting her.

Former Douglas volleyball player Chelsea Myers was a senior for the Falcons last year and Galena graduate Whitney Dibble will be a senior next year. Both played for Hankoff’s club team.

“It wasn’t really out of the blue,” Hankoff said of Bettencourt’s recruitment. “We have a little bit of pipeline from our club to that school. The coach is familiar with Sierra Nevada and knows how fundamentally sound the kids are. If Jessica can get it all together, she’s really going to be something.”

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