Dave Fleming knew before this past volleyball season began that he'd need to find a couple of outside hitters and another setter.
He can check that off his list now, but late in the season, another must-have popped up, so the Colorado Mesa volleyball coach isn't finished recruiting just yet.
"Now that Kasie (Gilfert) decided not to come back, that opens up kind of a small hole," he said of losing not only senior middle blocker Camille Smith, but Gilfert, a junior who decided to give up her final year of eligibility. She's graduating in May and is getting married next fall. Both middles were All-Americans after the 2018 season.
"We have Courtney Moore (a 6-foot-3 freshman) on the roster, but she came in recovering from surgery, so she's still a question mark. We feel we definitely need one more middle."
Fleming announced three signings on Tuesday, two outside hitters and one setter, all from the Front Range.
Sierra Hunt is a 5-11 outside hitter from Rangeview High School, and Gabby Vogt is a 5-11 outside/right side hitter from Eaglecrest. Fleming also signed 5-6 setter Sabrina VanDeList, and said all three could push for playing time next fall.
"Both of those kids, Sierra touches close to 9-10 (on her vertical leap) and Gabby is just a couple of inches lower than her," Fleming said. "Gabby plays right side for her club and outside in high school so she can play either position, but she's also a good passer, which is the big hole we have right now, a pin hitter who can pass.
"Graduating Katie (Scherr), she's been doing that for four years and has been really solid at it. That's the hole we have to address with our current pin hitters, we have to find someone who can pass the ball and get our middles involved and run the offense we want to run."
Vogt's ability to pass will make her a candidate for that position next fall, and Hunt will be playing for one of the top junior clubs this year, Colorado Juniors, which Fleming said should help her ready for college in the fall.
One of CMU's starting setters in the 6-2 offense, Sam Ritter, is graduating, and VanDeList will push to play right away.
"No matter what, she's going to compete for a 6-2 and has a chance to run a 5-1 because she jumps well enough to where she wouldn't be a blocking liability, and she attacks well enough in the front row," Fleming said, calling VanDeList a "high-level setter" who was looking at Division I schools, but wanted to stay in the West.
Right now, the players are in the rest and recovery portion of the offseason, not Fleming's favorite time of the year. He's staying busy with recruiting and tweaking ideas for next season. High on that list is how to get Maddi Foutz on the floor.
The transfer from Colorado State, where she was a libero and defensive specialist, started as an outside hitter, but an ankle injury took her out of the rotation. She finished the season as a defensive and serving specialist, but Fleming wants her on the floor as much as possible. She's a candidate to fill Scherr's role despite being only 5-5.
Until the spring semester starts, Fleming won't shake the feeling from being bounced from the RMAC tournament in the first round.
"My therapy is getting back in the gym after a loss and start working again," he said.
"I told the team, maybe it was after we lost to Mines, that I still believe this is the most talented room in the RMAC. That was kind of hard to swallow, that we knew we were really talented and didn't do as well as we thought we could."