Markella Lanara, a 6-foot-2-inch middle blocker from Athens, Greece, will round out volleyball’s 2020 roster, head coach Sarah Bernson announced in a press release Thursday.
In Greece, Lanara played for The Moraitis School, where she was named the top blocker in the conference and helped claim back-to-back school championships in 2018 and 2019. Lanara called GW her “dream university” in the release.
“It will give me the opportunity to combine academic excellence with competitive athletics while being in one of the most influential locations,” Lanara said in the release. “I believe that joining the GW volleyball family will help me grow as a player and person and take my athletic and academic career to a whole new level.”
Lanara also won a pair of titles for her club team, the Olympiakos volleyball club, and she helped the squad qualify for national competition for the past four years.
Bernson said Lanara will add “experience and depth” to GW’s returning middle blockers, a position that has historically been the team’s strong suit. Last season, the Colonials ranked third in the Atlantic 10 in blocks per set (2.52), and two Colonials finished among the top 10 in average blocks per set.
But last year’s top three blockers – graduate student middle blocker Caroline Sklaver, graduate student opposite Paty Valle and senior setter Jaimeson Lee – graduated, allowing Lanara to help shore up the gaps.
Assistant coach Brianna Barry said Lanara’s calm court demeanor and “fiery competitive spirit” fit well with the team’s dynamic.
“I am thrilled to work with her in the middle position and see how much she can grow,” Barry said in the release.
Lanara will join two other freshman recruits – opposite Liv Womble and outside hitter Elizabeth Drelling – on the court this fall. Two transfers junior setter Lauren LaBeck and graduate student opposite Ashley Waggle complete this year’s recruiting class. The Colonials will return nine members of last year’s squad.