VUVB opens 2024 recruiting class with addition of Ashley Earp


VINCENNES, Ind. – The three-time defending Region 24 Champion Vincennes University volleyball team opened their 2024 recruiting class with a new addition with a pretty familiar name.

The Trailblazers begin their 2024 recruiting class with five-foot-six defensive specialist / libero Ashley Earp from Mattoon, Ill.

Earp is the stepsister of 2021 NJCAA Division I Region 24 Player of the Year Grace (Earp) Bartimus.

“Ashley comes from the right family,” VUVB Head Coach Gary Sien said. “After coaching Grace for two years and seeing her succeed on every single level imaginable, both as a student and an athlete, Ashley definitely comes from some great roots.”

“As for positional need, we are looking at bringing in several defensive players,” Sien added. “Especially with the new rule change where you can now dress and play two liberos in the same set. So Ashley fills a positional need and of course she’s going to be another excellent student.”

“I also like our liberos to be able to use their hands when we are out of system and they have to set a hitter,” Sien said. “Ashley has set a lot more in high school than she has been a defensive player. For her club team, she’s more of a defensive player. With that setting background, not that we necessarily need her to set to run our offense, we can use that experience as a second setter when we are out of system. Which leads into the second new rule change for next year, where you are allowed to double hit the ball on the second contact, as long as the ball stays on your side of the net. That should give a lot more freedom to anybody to be able to use their hands.”

Earp joins the VU Volleyball program after a stellar career, both athletically and academically, at Mattoon High School, playing four sports, four years of volleyball, two years of track and one year of basketball and cross country.

Earp earned All-Tournament Team honors at the Mattoon High School Volleyball Invitational and was named Volleyball team captain.

Earp was also a four-year member of the student council, serving two years as treasurer and was a four-year member of the National Honor Society.

Earp was also very involved in various clubs and organizations at Mattoon H.S., including two years on the Lighthouse Leadership Team and being a member of the Believe it or not I care (BIONIC) mentoring group, Team Massive, the school’s student spirit club and a member of the Key Club.

Earp received purple graduation cords from Mattoon H.S. for over 150 hours of service at school, church and community events and will graduate Summa cum Laude.

“One of my sayings every year is that ‘you can never have too many defensive specialists’,” Sien said. “We are a very defensive minded team. We’ve had some big time hitters all of the years I’ve been here. Last year’s team for most of the season hit over .260. If you’re hitting over .200 as a team, that’s pretty good. So hitting over .260 at this level is just outstanding. But I’ve always been more defensive minded than anything else.”

“From a leadership perspective, the last four years we’ve had great consistency at the libero position, with one player playing two years and then another player playing two years,” Sien added. “They both did excellent as a player in the libero position. But they were also great leaders on the court. So whoever is going to earn that job of libero this year is going to need to be a leader. They have to be able to lead that defense out there. I always say that the setter is the leader of the offense. Well, the libero is the leader of the defense. As a coach, I typically communicate with our libero on any adjustments defensively that need to be made.”

Earp also played for the Club 217 travel volleyball team while in high school under Coach Lori Potter, who has also coached at Lake Land College and Eastern Illinois University.

“Ashley has been in the gym with us for as long as we can remember,” Club 217 Coach Lori Potter said. “Starting with lessons when she was very young through her senior year of club. It’s been a joy to watch her love and knowledge of the game grow.”

“Ashley is a gifted and hard working athlete with incredible speed which will allow her to adapt quickly to the college game,” Potter added. “She’s always asking for more and looking for ways to excel and improve.”

Ashley is the daughter of Dave and Lisa Earp and is a recipient of the Vincennes University Val/Sal Scholarship and plans to major in Nursing at Vincennes University.

“We graduated quite a bit of offensive ability,” Sien said. “But we also bring back quite a bit of offensive ability and have the ability to increase that. We have some pretty good hitters coming back who are going to have to have a bigger role in the offense next year.”

“We were able to have a really good spring season, which is important at any level,” Sien added. “Because when you sign to play here, you are basically signing to play four seasons because I always consider the spring season to be its own season. We were able to do some things during our spring season to really help us.”

“At the defensive position and libero we were able to try some different things and see what we have,” Sien said. “But the main thing I was looking for was the leadership. I can’t impress enough on anybody how important that is. I’ve been in a situation where we had close to no leadership on the floor and we just weren’t as good. If you have that good, positive, consistent leadership, you are going to be better. Positive leadership can take a team that’s pretty good and help them be great. I’ve seen that both as a player and definitely as a coach, you are elevated when you have that type of leadership.”

“It can come from anybody,” Sien added. “One of the things that was so good about last year’s sophomore group was that they didn’t hesitate to be leaders when they were freshmen. That can come from anyone that’s on the team. I’m not going to pass you over and say that you can’t be a leader because you are new. I’m looking for leaders and to me, it doesn’t matter who it’s going to be. So definitely one of the primary things that this year’s team needs to have right from the beginning, is the ability to lead.”

The Vincennes University Athletic Department is excited to welcome Ashley Earp to the 2024 Trailblazer recruiting class.