Transfers Burkhardt and Melton set to bring ladies to Division II
By Devon Jeffreys and Andrew Bernius
Photo by Devon Jeffreys
PHOTO CAPTION: Freshmen Justine Burkhardt and Leah Melton will bring NCAA experience to the Lady Saints in the fall.
Saints volleyball coach Taylor Mott’s recruiting efforts for the fall just got a little bit easier.
Mott has added two St. Augustine natives to the squad – freshmen transfers Leah Melton and Justine Burkhardt. Both ladies graduated from Pedro Menendez High School in St. Augustine in 2005 and went elsewhere to play volleyball and were reunited this semester in transferring to Flagler.
Melton went to Bartram Trail High School for her first three years in high school before going to Menendez for her senior year. While in high school, Melton was selected to the St. Johns County All-County Team and made the second team All-State. She spent the first half of freshman year at Eckerd College where she started at middle blocker for the Lady Tritons. At Eckerd, Melton was named to the Sunshine State Conference All-Freshman Team and was ranked fourth in NCAA Division II with 1.43 blocks per game.
Burkhardt spent her entire high school career at Menendez where she was named to the third team All-State in 2004 and All-State Honorable Mention in 2003. She also played on the USA High Performance Team Florida in 2005 and on the 2004 Bring-It USA European Tour. Burkhardt went to Winthrop University for her first semester and red-shirted on a team that went to the NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament.
Both players thought they did not fit at their schools and were offered scholarships when they contacted Flagler about the possibility of transferring. Melton and Burkhardt said they feel more comfortable at Flagler.
“Being from St. Augustine, you kind of discount Flagler,” Burkhardt said. “But then, when I came back it just made me realize how good a fit it was.”
Both players have ties to coach Mott from their high school days. They each played club volleyball with Mott, and Burkhardt attended Mott’s volleyball camp for seven years.
“Knowing coach Mott and that she was a good stable coach was a big influence,” Melton said. “You know what she expects of you, which is probably the most important thing.”
The players felt that their coaches at Eckerd and Winthrop pushed the team too hard and took the fun out of the game.
“It’s more [like] we’re playing because we love to play now,” Burkhardt said. “I think that produces better results than playing just to play or win.”
Mott is happy to bring both ladies into the team. She is excited that the team will be moving up to Division II with two players who already have NCAA experience.
“[Leah] will bring strong blocks and speed to her position of middle blocker,” Mott said. “Burkhardt will be very consistent for us at outside hitter,” she added.
Both players are excited to play with the Flagler team which includes players they had already worked with while playing club ball.
“Continuing to build the relationships that we’ve already built with this team, we’re building strong foundations,” Melton said.