Rookie Roundup: Athletes taking pro careers to AU Volleyball

credit: Julia Kostopolous Photo, Wisconsin Athletics
Savanna Collins
Oct 02, 2023

This season’s Athletes Unlimited Volleyball roster includes eight rookies from some of the top collegiate volleyball programs in the country. Three will make their professional debut with AU while five from the group continue their first years as pros after some experience overseas.

Here is a guide to those who closed the chapter on their NCAA careers after the 2022-2023 season who you may have watched play for or against your favorite university last year.

Katie Lukes – San Diego – Outside Hitter

Katie Lukes was one of six draftees selected in the 2023 Athletes Unlimited Volleyball College Draft. She competed for five years at the University of San Diego, playing in 100 matches from 2018 to 2022. Lukes ranks seventh in San Diego history with 1,359 career kills and was a four-time All-West Coach Conference selection, earning first-team honors in her final two seasons. She ended her collegiate career on a high note, earning 2022 WCC Player of the Year honors and leading her team to the NCAA semifinals.

Lukes’ cause this season is Morgan’s Message.


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Gabby Blossom – Penn State/San Diego – Setter

Gabby Blossom is another San Diego grad and member of the 2023 College Draft Class. She competed her undergraduate years at Penn State where she had 3,271 assists, 865 digs, and 76 aces. She earned two second-team All-Big Ten selections as a Nittany Lion in 2019 and 2020.

As a Torero, she had 310 assists, was named 2022 West Coast Conference Setter of the Year, and received First-Team All-America honors by the American Volleyball Coaches Association and

Blossom is playing for the Michael J Fox Foundation.


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Anota Adekunle – Rice University – Middle Blocker

Anota Adekunle is a five-year letter winner for Rice University. She is one of the most notable middle blockers in program history, setting the Rice career record with a .408 hitting percentage. She also ranks fourth all-time in block assists (365), tied for fifth in blocks (454), and 11th in career kills (1,324).

In her senior season in 2022, Adekunle ranked 10th in NCAA Division I with a .413 hitting percentage. She led the Owls in kills (363), points (430.5), and blocks (95). She is a two-time selection to the United States Women’s Collegiate National Team, receiving invitations in both 2019 and 2021.

Adekunle is playing for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.


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Brooke Nuneviller – Oregon – Outside Hitter

After Brooke Nuneviller’s five-year career at Oregon, she finished as the first player in Pac-12 Conference history to tally 1,500 career kills and 2,000 career digs. She’s also the first three-time All-America selection in Ducks program history and a three-time All-Pac-12 Conference honoree. In her senior season, she recorded career highs with a .281 hitting percentage and 3.98 kills per set.

She most recently competed with the U.S. Senior Women’s National Team at the 2023 Volleyball Nations League and contributed to Team USA’s Gold medal win at the 2023 NORCECA Pan Am Cup Final Six as well as a Bronze medal at the 2023 NORCECA Pan American Cup.

Nuneviller is continuing her rookie year with AU after making her pro debut with Nilüfer Belediyespor in Turkey.

Brooke is playing for the Pink Fund.

Kayla Caffey – Missouri/Nebraska/Texas – Middle Blocker

Kayla Caffey began her college career at Missouri where she was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2017. She spent four years with the Tigers before transferring to Nebraska in 2020. Across two seasons for the Huskers, she contributed 369 kills and 179 total blocks to her collegiate stats. Caffey concluded her career at Texas where she contributed to the Longhorns 2022 NCAA title.

Since graduating, Caffey competed with Criollas De Caguas in Puerto Rico alongside fellow Athletes Unlimited athletes Nia Read and Shelly Fanning.

Caffey’s cause this season is BUILD (Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development).


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Claire Chaussee – Louisville – Outside Hitter

Claire Chaussee is a five-year letter-winner for Louisville who found her way onto the floor season after season. Her consistency leading the Cardinals culminated in the peak of her career in 2022, earning ACC Player of the Year honors. In her senior season, Chaussee had 25 matches with double-digit kills, including three matches with 24 or more kills. She led the team with 452 total and hit .304 on the year.

She recently made her professional debut with CBF Balducci HR Macerata in Italy during the 2022-23 campaign.

Chaussee is playing for the Lesley & Rhyan Prather Foundation.


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Danielle Hart – Wisconsin – Middle Blocker

Danielle Hart is a 2021 National Champion and four-time Big 10 Conference Champion from Wisconsin. She played for the Badgers from 2017-2022 garnering 596 career kills, 416 blocks, and maintained a .359 hitting percentage. Hart is a three-time All-Big Ten Conference selection, a third-Team AVCA All-American, and a 2022 First-Team All-American pick by

Since graduating she has competed for Team USA in the 2023 Pan American Cup and NORCECA Championship.

Hart’s cause this season is the Alzheimer’s Association.


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Marin Grote – Washington – Middle Blocker

Marin Grote was a three-year start for the Huskies in her five-year career at Washington. Her career hitting percentage of .380 ranks her fifth in program history and is in the record books for her single-season hitting percentages of .415 in 2021 (ranks sixth) and .210 in 2022 (ranks eighth).

She was the team leader in solo blocks her final two seasons, earning her Second-Team AVCA All-America honors in 2021 and receiving Fourth-Team All-America recognition from Volleyball Magazine.


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The season begins on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT featuring 44 of the world’s best women’s professional volleyball players competing for a share of $1 million over five weeks at Legacy Park in Mesa, Ariz.

Tickets are on sale now.


Savanna Collins is the Digital Media Reporter at Athletes Unlimited. You can follow her on Twitter @savannaecollins.

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