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WILMINGTON, NC (UNCW) -– The UNCW volleyball program has announced the signing of outside hitter Leah Gagliardi to a National Letter-of-Intent during the spring signing period. She will join the Seahawks program as a freshman for the 2011 season.

“We are thrilled Leah has decided to join our Seahawk family next fall,” UNCW Head Coach Amy Bambenek said. “With the graduation of five seniors, three of which were outside hitters and one right side hitter, Leah could not have come in to our program at a better time.”

A native of La Crescenta, CA, Gagliardi earned First-Team All-Area accolades for the second straight season after leading Crescenta Valley with 200 kills during her senior campaign.

A three-time All-Pacific League selection, Gagliardi was named Team MVP following her freshman and senior seasons and was the squad’s Most Improved selection after a sophomore campaign that saw her record 121 kills and 23 service aces.

In the classroom, Gagliardi was a three-time recipient of the Falcons Scholar-Athlete Award, given annually to Crecenta Valley student-athletes who maintain a 3.5 PGA or higher during the academic year.

“Leah is a versatile attacker on the outside or right side positions and has all the right tools to be a 6-rotation player,” Bambenek said. “She elevates extremely well and knows how to create kills in any situation. Although Leah will have a chance to earn significant playing time as a freshman, it’s her long term potential to become a physically dominant hitter that excites me the most.

“Coming from California, Leah is used to playing tough competition weekend after weekend and against girls who are going on to play at the top 25 level. Leah has proven herself as an impact player in this environment. She has had top notch training with the Legacy Volleyball Club and will bring a high volleyball IQ to our team.”

Gagliardi is the third student-athlete to sign with the Seahawks in 2010-11 as McKenzie Keightley (Pompano Beach, Fla./Westminster Academy) and Morgan Kline (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) inked National Letters-of-Intents during the early signing period in November.

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