Irvine Valley standout sophomore women's volleyball player Lea Kruse has signed with the University of Hawaii.
Kruse has shined with indoor and beach play for IVC and will focus solely on the sand when she heads to Hawaii.
The 5-10 Kruse will join the Hawaii team in the fall and have two years of eligibility remaining.
In 2018-19, she was named co-Most Valuable Player of the Orange Empire Conference in both beach and indoor, while also helping lead Irvine Valley to Orange Empire Conference titles during both campaigns.
On the beach last spring, Kruse led IVC to an unblemished conference record and a No. 3 state ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) final poll and was named the team of the year as part of the IVC athletic department's 19th Annual Awards.
Irvine Valley ended with a record of 17-8 overall and won an Orange Empire Conference with a mark of 10-0. IVC ended up going 15-1 against community college opponents.
Kruse and teammate Renata Bath (UC Riverside indoor) also finished third in the individual pairs portion of the state championship at the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista.
Kruse, for her part, didn't lose a match in the sand during team dual play against community college opponents on the season, going 16-0 (15-0) with Bath. And only three of those dual team set wins went to three sets.
Overall last season on the beach, including postseason pairs events in conference, regionals and state, Bath had an impressive record of 25-3 overall (24-3 with Bath). One of those defeats was a forfeit in the semifinals of the So. Cal Regional Pairs event.
Kruse and Bath also picked up several impressive wins against four-year colleges, including beating duos from Nebraska, Grand Canyon, Missouri State, Concordia and Westcliff.
Kruse and the women's beach volleyball team was honored by the AVCA with a Team Academic Award for the 2019 season. The award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.
In the last two years with indoor at Irvine Valley, Kruse has helped Irvine Valley to a combined record of 49-3 and two trips to the state tournament. IVC fell in the semifinals in 2018 and finished as the runner-up to Feather River after a thrilling, five-set match in 2019.
She repeated as co-MVP in the OEC this past fall and also an all-Southern California Region selection in both 2018 and 2019.
Kruse averaged 3.63 kills, 3.70 digs and 0.63 aces per set this past season for Irvine Valley and recorded 21 matches with at least 10 kills, including the final 10 contests of the year.
And her efforts in both indoor and beach volleyball, Kruse was named Irvine Valley's Women's Athlete of the Year as a freshman for the 2018-19 school year.
"Lea is one of the best junior college volleyball players in California and will make an immediate impact for our program," UH head beach coach Jeff Hall said. "She's been extremely committed to her academics all while playing two sports at Irvine College for Coach Pesto. We're really looking forward to having her here in the fall."
Kruse has been coached at IVC by Tom Pestolesi, a former Rainbow Warrior volleyball player and Rainbow Wahine assistant coach, as well as Laser assistant coach Nick Castello, who is a former IVC and UH standout.
"Lea's work ethic is as good as anyone I've ever coached," Pestolesi said. "She loves to compete, is an incredible teammate, and a top-notch student. I'm as proud of her as a coach could be and am extremely excited to see her become a Rainbow Wahine."