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WCU Volleyball Inks Three to National Letters of Intent

April 16, 2004

Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina University head volleyball coach Angell Benson has announced the signing of three student-athletes to NCAA National Letters of Intent. Meredith Harmon (Villa Hills, Ky.), Melissa Parana (Raleigh, N.C.) and Andrea Smith (Marietta, Ga.) will all join the Catamount squad in the fall of 2004.

Harmon, a 6-1 middle/right side hitter, helped her Notre Dame Academy squad to a national ranking of 69 and to the state championship match as a senior. Harmon has garnered several honors, including being named Cincinnati Enquirer Northern Kentucky Player of the Year, district and regional MVP, first team All-State, state championship all-tournament team, Bishop Moore all-tournament team and the state championship Sportsmanship Award. The team captain wrapped up this past season with 311 kills, a .452 hitting percentage, 3.84 kills per game and 84 solo blocks in 81 games. Harmon was selected for the 2003 International Volleyball Tournament to represent Kentucky. Harmon was a three-year starter on her school's varsity squad.

"Meredith's 6-1 stature illustrates a strong volleyball player that adds height to our team," Benson said of her signee. "Her powerful arm swing will be valuable at the middle and right side positions. I am pleased that she chose Western over other Division I programs and it is a great reflection on the institution."

Parana, a 5-11 utility player, is a three-year letter-winner and three-year all-conference selection for Sanderson High School where she led her squad to the 2001 and 2003 state quarterfinals. Parana served as a captain during her senior campaign, was named her team's MVP as a junior and senior and was selected conference Player of the Year as a senior. She played three years of club volleyball for the NC Challengers and Triangle Volleyball Club. She was additionally a four-year letter-winner in track and field for Sanderson and will be competing with the Catamount track and field team during the 2004-05 season. In track and field, Parana was her team's MVP as a junior and an all-conference performer and two-time regional finalist in the high jump and shot put. She placed third in the high jump at the North Carolina 4A state meet as a junior, first in her conference in both the high jump and shot put as a junior and first place in Wake County in the high jump as a senior.

"Melissa is a true athlete that will compete in both track and field and volleyball at Western," Benson said. "Her leaping ability adds quality and quickness to our team. She is very versatile and is a great addition to this recruiting class. It is an added bonus to acquire another student-athlete from North Carolina."

"Melissa will add both depth and great potential to our high jump and multi-event groups," WCU head track and field coach Danny Williamson said. "Not only is she a great athlete, but a fine person with outstanding character. This is the type of student-athlete that we enjoy recruiting."

Smith, a six-foot outside/right side hitter, is a three-year varsity letter-winner for Lassiter High School who helped her team to a second-place finish in the state as a junior and a ninth-place showing during her senior campaign. She was selected to the all-county first team as a senior and was an honorable mention selection in her junior year. Smith was named her team's MVP as a senior as well as being voted a team captain for the year. Additionally, she was a scholar athlete at her school as a junior and senior.

"Andrea will be an incredible asset to our program," Benson said. "She will not only contribute her exceptional ability to play volleyball, but her disposition and caring attitude to our success. Andrea is a great example of the type of athlete I enjoy coaching."

The Catamount volleyball team will be hosting its spring tournament this weekend in the Reid Gym as they host Mars Hill and Carson-Newman on Saturday (Apr. 17), beginning at 10:30 am.

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