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App State Volleyball Adds University Christian’s Smith

App State head volleyball coach Sarah Rumely Noble announced the addition of four athletes to the volleyball team on Wednesday. Joining the Mountaineers for the 2024 season will be Julianna Horta, Bella Hutchens, Elise Marchel, and Maddie Smith.

“I am so excited about the addition of these four amazing women to our program,” said Rumely Noble. “Not only are they high character individuals, they are incredibly gifted athletes with unmatched work ethic and drive. They are all committed to giving their all to App State and will help us take App to the top.”

Julianna Horta | Setter | Clayton, N.C. | Corinth Holders HS
Horta will be joining the Mountaineers for the 2024 season as a setter. Horta, who intends on pursuing a degree in exercise science, was an all-conference honoree and tournament standout. Horta also competed for the NC Volleyball Academy club team under the direction of Jon Garner, Andi Bentley, and Romel Lightbourne.

Horta has one brother and enjoys working out, shopping and sleeping.

Why Horta Chose App State: “I chose App State because from the moment I stepped on campus, I immediately felt at home and knew this place would allow me to achieve my dreams and be part of something bigger than myself.”

Rumely Noble on Horta: “We are really excited to add Jules to our program in the setting position. She is incredibly driven, a hard worker, and a natural setter. Her ability to locate from anywhere on the court will help our offensive efficiency greatly. We are excited for her to join us this spring.”

Bella Hutchens | Outside Hitter | Pilot Mountain, N.C. | East Surry HS
As an incoming freshman, Hutchens will join the Mountaineers as an outside hitter next fall. Hutchens holds the East Surry High School record for most kills in a match and posted over 1,000 kills during the course of her high school career. She is a four-time All-Conference selection and two-time Player of the Year. She also earned an All-Tournament selection. In addition to her high school career, she played for the Twin City Volleyball Academy club team under the direction of Caley Gilley and Amber Brandon as well as the Triad United Volleyball Academy under the direction of Jan Dowling.

Hutchens intends on majoring in business. Her mother, aunt, and uncle are App State alumni and she has a cousin who is currently attending App State. Hutchens enjoys fishing and hanging out with friends.

Why Hutchens Chose App State: “I’ve grown up being a fan of App State. I love the atmosphere of this beautiful school, not only in academics but in athletics as well.”

Rumely Noble on Hutchens: “Bella is a Mountaineer through and through. She is fast off the ground, incredibly twitchy, and her potential is unmatched. She hits a heavy ball, is dynamic on both pins and has a super fast arm. We can’t wait to see where the future takes her in the Black and Gold.”

Elise Marchal | Middle Blocker/Outside Hitter | Kings Mills, Ohio | Kings HS
Marchal will be joining the Mountaineers as a middle blocker/right side hitter next season. During her high school career, Marchal was a two-time all-conference and all-district honoree. She also was named to the 2021, 2022, and 2023 USA Volleyball Nationals All-Tournament Team. Marchal was named the 2023 OHSCVA District 16 Player of the Year on Nov. 7 and will compete with the Kings High School volleyball team in the Final Four of the OHSAA State Volleyball Tournament on Nov. 11. The Kings Mills, Ohio native also played for the Elevation Volleyball club team under the direction of Greg Ulland.

Marchal has three siblings and enjoys playing basketball, playing pickleball, traveling, painting and working out.

Why Marchal Chose App State: “I chose App State because I instantly felt connected to the coaching staff and players. The culture is strong and focused, and the team works hard and has fun!”

Rumely Noble on Marchal: “Elise is an exciting athlete with a huge skill set. She can pass, play defense, play middle, play on a pin and she is going to kill a lot of balls for us in the Black and Gold. She has incredible versatility and a huge upside. We are thrilled that she is a Mountaineer.”

Maddie Smith | Outside Hitter | Hickory, N.C. | University Christian HS
Smith will be joining the Mountaineers as a true freshman outside hitter. During her high school career, Smith was a three-time all-state selection, two-time Player of the Year, and helped her team to the 2022 NCISAA 2A State Champion title. She also tallied over 1,300 kills. The Hickory, N.C. native also competed on the Carolina Union Volleyball club team under the direction of John Brannon, Bill Ferguson, and Abbi Hayes.

Smith intends to pursue a degree in exercise science and would like to play volleyball professionally after college before attending PA school to be a dermatology PA. Smith’s grandmother, uncle, and aunt all attended App State. Smith enjoys shopping, traveling, walking her dogs, and drawing landscapes.

Why Smith Chose App State: “I chose App State because I love the campus and the culture. The family atmosphere is awesome, and the coaches and my teammates are really special. I also love that it is close to home.”

Rumely Noble on Smith: “Maddie is a gritty outside hitter who isn’t afraid to take big swings. She has a heavy arm, great athleticism and she never backs down. Her ability to play six rotations coupled with her ability to score, makes her an exciting addition for our program. We are glad she will get to be with us this spring.”