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L to R: Živa Recek, Nikki O'Rourke, Jackie Swalchick

Friday April 13, 2012Florida Volleyball Adds Additional Three to Already Stellar Signing Class

Gainesville, Fla.

L to R: Živa Recek, Nikki O'Rourke, Jackie Swalchick

The University of Florida volleyball team adds outside hitter Živa Recek (pronounced Ghee-vah Res-ick) (Ljubljana, Slovenia), libero Nikki O’Rourke (Clearwater, Fla.) and outside hitter Jackie Swalchick (Melbourne, Fla.) to an already outstanding 2012 class, Florida head coach Mary Wise announced on Friday. Recek, O’Rourke and Swalchick join fellow incoming freshmen Dana Backlund (Wildomar, Calif.), Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.) and early enrollee Berkley Whaley (Saint Petersburg, Fla.) as a member of next season’s freshman class, as well as redshirt freshman Simone Antwi (Lorton, Va.).


"Beyond Živa's international experience, she brings the skills of a six-rotation outside hitter who has the ability to score points for us in the front row, back row, and behind the service line,” Wise said. “Jackie and Nikki are two of the top players in Florida, currently playing on two of the most successful club teams. They both know how to compete and how to win.”


“The 2012 class as a whole, by its talent and depth, has a chance to play a major role in our success over the next four years," Wise added.


A 6-foot outside hitter, Recek was a three-year member of the Slovenian Youth National Team (2006-09) and joined the Slovenian Junior National Team in 2009. Recek was twice named the best young female volleyball player in Slovenia as a member of the Dolenjska regional team, which is a tournament of every Slovenian U-15 team. Recek began her career with the Slovenian Youth National Team at age 13.


In 2007 and 2008, Recek and the Slovenian Youth National Team won the MEVZA (Middle European Volleyball Zonal Association) summer and winter tournaments. In 2009, Recek was promoted to the Slovenian Junior National Team and took eighth at the Junior European Championships in Serbia.


As a part of her club team, Aliansa, Recek has two Slovenian Junior Championship titles and two Most Valuable Player honors under her belt, as well as three top-five finishes at the Slovenian Senior Championships (2009: 5th, 2010: 4th, 2011: 3rd).


Recek is also an accomplished beach volleyball player. As a 13-year-old, Recek took second at both the U-16 and U-18 Slovenian Beach Championships. The following year, Recek had a banner season, winning the U-16, U-18, U-20 and U-23 Slovenian Beach Championships en route to a ninth-place finish at the U-18 European Beach Volleyball Championships in Greece.


In 2009, Recek defended her U-18 and U-20 Slovenian Beach Championships and finished third in the U23 championship. She finished tied for 13th at the European Beach Volleyball Championships in Portugal. In 2010, Recek swept the U-18, U-20 and U-23 Slovenian Beach Championships and took third at the Slovenian Senior Beach Championships. Last summer, Recek defended her U-20 Slovenian Beach Championship for the fourth consecutive year.


O’Rourke is a 5-foot-7 outside hitter/defensive specialist from Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Fla. She was a 2010 AAU All-American as a member of the Pinellas Heat Elite Volleyball Club, the same program as fellow freshman Whaley. She now plays libero for Tampa Bay Juniors and her 18 Black team recently won both the Big South and Northeast Qualifiers, earning them one of the top seeds at the 2012 USAV Girls’ Junior National Championships.


O’Rourke was named to the Pinellas County Senior All-Star game in 2011 and her Clearwater Tornadoes were regional semifinalists in 2010 and regional finalists in 2011. Clearwater was undefeated in conference play behind O’Rourke this season, who came up with 22 kills in Clearwater’s regional semifinal victory to put the Tornadoes in the 7A region final.


O’Rourke, who plans to major in business, wants to attend graduate school after her time in the Orange and Blue.


Swalchick is a 5-foot-11 outside hitter from Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne, Fla. She is a 2011 AAU All-American and 2010 Space Coast Player of the Year. Swalchick traveled a well-worn route to the Orange and Blue, playing her club ball with Orlando Volleyball Academy, the same volleyball club as former Gator greats Sherri Williams, Callie Rivers and Erin Fleming, as well as future teammate Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.).


Named team captain and team MVP in 2010 and 2011, the Holy Trinity Tigers were state runners-up in 2009 and district champions in 2010. Swalchick was the MVP of the Brevard County All-Star game and is a two-year participant of the USAV High Performance program within the state of Florida.


Swalchick is a member of National Honor Society and the National English Honor Society, maintaining a 4.10 GPA while juggling her responsibilities with the Latin Club, participating in multiple leadership conferences and institutes and earning Highest Honor Roll recognition all eight semesters of high school.


Along with the seven freshmen, the Gators also welcome back eight returners and Louisville transfer Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) to the 2012 roster.


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Members of the Class of 2016




Simone Antwi*

Middle Blocker

Lorton, Va.

Dana Backlund

Setter/Outside Hitter

Wildomar, Calif.

Gabby Mallette

Outside Hitter

Orange Park, Calif.

Nikki O’Rourke


Clearwater, Fla.

Živa Recek

Outside Hitter

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Jackie Swalchick

Outside Hitter

Melbourne, Fla.

Berkley Whaley*

Outside Hitter

Saint Petersburg, Fla.

*already enrolled at the University of Florida

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