Middles to Keep an Eye on in 2025: Watchlist Alert
Going over my rankings for 2025, I noticed some interesting prospects that I was unable to fit into the first uploaded rankings. These 5 prospects have a range of skills that coaches at the next level are looking for in…
Going over my rankings for 2025, I noticed some interesting prospects that I was unable to fit into the first uploaded rankings. These 5 prospects have a range of skills that coaches at the next level are looking for in new recruits. Each of these prospects have their own game to bring to the table, yet all able to be an impact for their school and club teams this season. Because the middle position is so scarce at the highest level, any one of these prospects could see their way into a great program and be a huge asset to their future collegiate team.
Mckayla Stockwell (JJVA)
The first thing you notice when Mckayla steps on the court is her athleticism and length. She may not be the tallest middle I have ever seen, but she uses her vertical jump and arm length to her advantage. Having so much length, it’s surprising to see the level of control and the quickness she’s able to swing through the ball at. She does a great job driving into her bow and arrow right off of her jump. This allows her to whip her arm through the ball in a short amount of time, increasing her ability to find seams or to beat defenders to the spot. Mckayla also plays with a ton of IQ. She understands when to tip and where to tip the ball while at the same time approaching the ball as if she is going to swing. This gives her the ability to reach at her highest point not only on her swing, but on her tips and pushes as well. When it comes to the defensive side of the net, she is a smart blocker who knows when it’s necessary to close the block and when it is necessary for her to grab the ball. She forces the opposing offense to turn to get outside of her or make easier shots for her own team to play defense off of. Most prospects aren’t going to have the same overall ability on both sides of the net. Mckayla does a great job of not just doing her job on offense and on defense but she exceeds expectations and performs her job to the best of her ability throughout the film and tournaments I have been able to watch her play in. Overall she is a very well rounded athlete and player that gives the teams she plays for an edge against other teams.
Kayden Barber (OPU)
Kayden is eerily similar to Mckayla when it comes to the athleticism she puts on display. She not only has lateral quickness to close blocks pin to pin, but has the jumping ability to compete and win against bigger opponents. Kayden is the type of athlete that you don’t see everyday. Whether it’s her hops or it’s her ability to move side to side she always puts herself in a great position to play the ball. What really separates Kayden from the pack is her tenacity and hunger to win. She always plays with a chip on her shoulder and never takes a play off. When you have the combination of her athleticism with the requisite skills, she can play at a very high level. You can see her instincts when she goes up to block whether it’s her eye work to be able to drop a hand or even to dive into angles. You don’t see that level of play at that age all the time, so it’s definitely a treat to watch. Offensively she uses the same IQ she displays on defense; understanding the open spaces on the court and being able to take advantage of them. The one note that I would give Kayden is to stay aggressive with her mindset no matter the type of shot or swing you are going to do on a particular play. She has the athleticism and the skills to really make defenses have to second guess themselves or play on their heels. Kayden is an impressive prospect that I’m very excited to see how she continues to improve and produce for her team.
Jamesyn Haynes (Game Point)
Compared to the first two previous prospects, Jamesyn plays a lot closer to the traditional version of the middle blocker position. The first thing I notice about Jamesyn’s game is her ability to read the blockers and to understand what the opposing defense is doing situationally. For example, if she is running a slide and the blockers stay inside on the angle, she will either hit the ball hard down the line or sneak it just outside of the block to hit in between defenders. She does this consistently on offense which allows her to use more tips and pushes to her game while still scoring for her team. When she does decide to swing, she uses her height and reaches high to contact the ball. On top of a high reach she also has good arm rotation to allow her arm to be fast while being in control of her movements. Jamesyn’s full offensive package is what college coaches look for at the next level. Defensively, she uses her IQ to understand what hitters want to do situationally and does a good job either closing the block or grabbing the ball independent of her pin blocker. This allows her coaches to really focus on the person setting up the block, not having to worry about whether or not the opposing hitter will be able to hit the seam or get blocked in doing so. Overall Jamesyn’s game is very translatable to almost any style of offense or defense and is going to be and already is a huge asset to her school and club teams.
Taryn Newton (River Ridge HS)
I had the pleasure of coaching against Taryn for a few years; she loved to make my life hard as an opposing coach trying to figure out ways to stop her offensively and how to get around her block. Her main sport she focuses and excels in is Softball, but she’s just as dominant on the volleyball court. Even from a young age she would always be playing up in age on top of her team playing in competitive tournaments throughout the season. Taryn is an absolute force on both sides of the net and consistently gives opposing teams fits. The biggest thing you’ll notice about Taryn is her size and the athleticism, balance, and control that comes with that size. She not only has a strong vertical leap but has the lateral quickness to close pin to pin. Even on top of that she has the ability to have the balance and control of her body that she can manipulate her hands or arms on the block to really press over the net. She uses that same athleticism on the offensive side to hit over and around opposing blockers and defenders. She’s almost impossible to stop, and yet she does so many things outside of the skill set aspect of volleyball. She’s had a fantastic attitude and tenacity that she brings to the court that you only see out of the best athletes in the country. If Taryn ever chooses to pursue volleyball over softball, she’s going to have ample opportunity to display her assets and skills for some of the top college programs to consider.
Riley Greene (Sarasota Juniors)
Riley is someone I had the great pleasure of being able to coach at the University of Tampa volleyball camp back a few summers ago. When I first started working with her, she was a raw athlete. What I mean by raw athlete is she had all of the necessary tools like vertical leap, lateral quickness, and overall athleticism to compete with anyone. However, she just needed some coaching to really get herself to the next level. I’ve been able to watch her on her club team for the past couple of seasons and it has been a huge improvement of skill and IQ from when I first met her until now. She has learned and gained the necessary skills to compete at a very high level and even take over games for her club team especially. Riley’s calling card on offense is when she uses her arm swing to beat blockers because of how high she jumps, how high her contact with the ball is, and the timing she has from the start of her swing until she finishes her swing. She has a very smooth swing that stays very flexible and loose; allowing her to contort her body to the ball and hit the ball with tons of range. She can have her shoulders face to area 6 on a quick 1 set and she’s able to turn either way at a very hard angle. With the type of range she’s able to hit along with her arm speed, she’s able to dictate the pace and flow of the game when she receives the ball. Although her hitting is probably my favorite part of her game, she’s also fantastic getting her feet there to close the block on defense. When you have the skills that Riley brings to the table game after game, she just becomes more and more impressive to me and more importantly coaches at the next level.
The middle blocker class for 2025 is one of the deepest I have seen in a long time. There is top tier D1 talent, but there’s a great mix of different collegiate volleyball programs that can really benefit and expose these athletes to very high level play. Each of the five prospects show a different skill set and ways to succeed at the position while also positioning themselves to get recruited by collegiate programs. It’s such a nice sight to see that there is a ton of talent to choose from not only in Florida but throughout the position groups as a whole. The most remarkable part is that the middle position is usually the hardest to find great prospects in; yet Florida has a great list that seems like it keeps growing throughout the years.