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2026 Recruiting Needs and Potential Targets of Last Years Elite 8

2026 Recruiting Needs and Potential Targets of Last Years Elite 8

College Volleyball's 2023 Elite 8 Programs: 

Needs and Potential Targets Heading into 2026 Recruiting

Texas Longhorns

2025 Class (Unofficial)                             2026 Projected Needs

Setter-None                Setter-Yes

OH- #1 A. Vander Wal #2 C. Spears     OH- No

OP. - #4 A. Gaido                                   OPP-No 

MB- #1 T. Harvey                                   MB- Not a Need 

Libero- #1 C. Krueger                            Libero- No

Overall Outlook: Setter would be the #1 need in this class. 

Any OH will have difficulty beating out what is in front of them in the Texas program, but the Horns will sign one.  Texas has signed the #1 MB in the past two classes, so it isn't an immediate need, but the Longhorns are stockpiling talent, so if there is one they really like, they may offer. Libero and OPP are both positions that the champs have talent on the roster, but my guess is that they add another Libero for sure and handle the OPP like MB, and if there is a prospect they really like, they will target.

Potential Targets: #1 OH Henley Anderson, #1 Setter Genevieve Harris, Libero Kaitlyn Nguyen

Nebraska Cornhuskers

2025 Class (Unofficial)                                 2026 Projected Needs

Setter- #1 Campbell Flynn            Setter- No

OH- #3 OH Teraya Sigler    OH- Yes 

OPP- #8 Ryan Hunter (ACL tear)    OPP-?

MB-Manaia Ogbechie    MB- Yes (1 for sure)

Libero- #5 Carrie Leimbach    Libero- No

Overall Outlook:  Huskers will be in on the nation's top middles and will take one.  They also have a very crowded OH room, but they will still add one.  OPP is tricky as it could depend on how they view Hunter's injury.  Our guess right now is that they pass on one early and maybe sign one later in the class.  

Nebraska seems to be adding a top libero to every class. It may not be critical, but they will do so again this year.

Potential Targets: #2 OH Halle Thompson, #3 OH Ayanna Watson, #2 MB Ella Andrews, Utility Layli Ostovar

Stanford Cardinal

2025 Class (Unofficial)                             2026 Projected Needs

Setter- #2 S Logan Parks                      Setter- No

OH- #6 OH Kaci Demaria                       OH- Yes (1 for sure)

OPP- No                                                  OPP- Yes

MB- #8 Erika Sayer                                MB- Yes 

Libero- No                                               Libero- Yes

Overall Outlook:  Because their admission policy doesn't allow athletes to "verbal" until they are accepted into school, It is hard to project what the Cardinal may do accurately.  But, we will give it our best shot.  The Cardinal will target the positions of Outside and Opposite for sure.  This class a couple top Opposites that would fit the Stanford program perfectly.  Look for them to take a Libero (especially if they don't sign one in the 2025 Class).

Potential Targets: OH Joy Udoye, #1 MB Keoni Williams, #1 OPP Sarah Hickman, #2 OPP Nadiya Johnson, Libero Ella Grimes

Pitt Panthers

2025 Class (Unofficial)                       2026 Projected Needs

Setter- No                                             Setter- Yes

OH- #7 OH Samara Coleman              OH- Yes 

OPP- NO                                               OPP- Yes

MB- Addy Emch                                   MB- Yes 

Libero- No                                             Libero- Yes

Overall Outlook:  The Panthers took a smaller class in 2025, so look for them to add 4-5 to this class.  Every position is on the table for the Pitt in 2026.

Potential Targets: #3 Setter Isabelle Hoppe, Setter Rayna Christianson, OH Morgan Williams, Bryah Breux OH/OPP, #2 Libero Emma Cugino, #3 MB Kendall Northern

Wisconsin Badgers

2025 Class (Unofficial)                             2026 Projected Needed

Setter- #6 S Addy Horner                          Setter- No

OH- #5 OH Madison Quest                       OH- Yes 

OPP-No                                                       OPP- Yes

MB- #2 MB Natalie Wardlow     MB- Yes 

Libero- #10 Libero Kristen Simon              Libero- No

Overall Outlook:  The Badgers have built their program on long, physical volleyball players who have some grit.  Look for one MB in this deep class.  They also will look to fill two pin spots in with the 2026s.  Again, I think most Top 20 programs are taking a Libero in every class, if possible.

Potential Targets: #6 MB Lynney Tarnow, #4 OH Jayden Robinson, #2 MB Brooke Harwood

Louisville Cardinals

2025 Class (Unofficial)                               2026 Projected Needs

Setter- No      Setter- Yes

OH- Chloe Meester      OH- Yes

OPP-No      OPP- Yes

MB- Addison Makun and Kayla Blackshear MB- No

Libero- Hannah Kenney       Libero- No

Overall Outlook:  Louisville will look to keep pushing for higher-ranked recruits, and they can be a little particular in this class.  They need to sign one Setter and add another power arm pin.  I think they will look for an OPP if the right one is available.

Potential Targets: #5 Setter Blair Thiebaud, MB/OH Jessica Smallwood, #7 OH Gabi DiVita, OPP Bellamie Beus, OH/OPP Nadiya Shelby, #2 Setter Mallory Matheny, #6 Setter Danielle Whitmire, #4 OH Jayden Robinson

Arkansas Razorbacks

2025 Class (Unofficial)                               2026 Projected Needs

Setter- No      Setter- Yes

OH- Parker Duncan      OH- Yes 

OPP-Sydney Maue      OPP- No

MB-Journey Peppers      MB- Yes 

Libero- No      Libero- Yes

Overall Outlook:  Arkansas will try and capitalize on last year's run to the Elite 8.  This is a big year needing to land a Setter, MB and OH for sure.  Libero will also be a priority.

Potential Prospects: Setter Madison Victoriano, Setter Sydney Lund, MB Lacy Tinnell, Libero Aubree Fernandez 

Oregon Ducks

2025 Class (Unofficial)                                  2026 Projected Needs

Setter- Kamden Mitchell and Setter- No

Izzy Mobridge

OH- Logan Bell OH- Yes (1 for sure)

OPP- No OPP- Yes

MB- Kenna Cogill  MB- No

Libero- No  Libero- Yes

Overall Outlook:  Oregon's priority one may be a Libero for this class.  Look for them to try and sign both an OH and OPP in the 2026s.  Taking two Setters in the 2025s, the Ducks are fine there.

It will be interesting to see if joining the Big Ten changes Oregon's type of athlete they target or if they stay with what has worked very successfully for Coach Ulmer's staff.

Potential Prospects: #3 OH Ayanna Watson, OH Laura Eichert, #2 MB Brooke Harwood, #3 Libero Erin Clark, #5 OPP Finley Krystowiak, #8 OH Audrey Flanagan, Libero Presley Thompson

Darren Tipton