Committing to Wisconsin volleyball is a dream come true for 2026 recruit Lynney Tarnow (2024)

Mark StewartMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

MADISON – Lynney Tarnow is standing inside the UW Field House with an almost eaten orange popsicle in her right hand and a big smile on her face.

It’s 2016 and the 8-year-old poses for a photo during a break at Wisconsin’s volleyball camp. She’s having a ball, so much so that over the years she becomes a regular.

The streak went to eight years earlier this month. During that time the native of suburban Chicago not only became a fan of the program but also one of the top middle blockers in the country.

Her worlds converged June 15 when UW offered a scholarship and she accepted a few hours later.

"Why Wisconsin? It’s just everything," she said. "That is my honest answer. I think Wisconsin has everything. I think they have a mix of people. I think they have great coaches and the city of Madison, there is just so much in it. And then the team culture. Everything checked the boxes for me. There was nothing really left out. Even friends of mine have said I could see you at Wisconsin."

Tarnow was the second player to commit to Wisconsin’s 2025, making her announcement about 90 minutes after middle blocker/right-side hitter Kymora Scott did on June 15. Since then the Badgers have added two outside hitters, Audrey Flanagan from Redondo Beach, California, and Halle Thompson from Spring, Texas.

Tarnow is part of the USA Volleyball national team development program and is ranked No. 6 in the 2025 class by PrepDig and No. 33 by PrepVolleyball.

At 6-feet 5 inches she could bring an imposing and powerful presence to the roster when she arrives in two years.

Here are a few tidbits to know about Tarnow.

Lynney Tarnow comes from two programs that have been good to UW

Tarnow plays her high school ball at Benet Academy, which produced former Badgers Lauren Barnes and Tiffany Clark, and club ball with 1st Alliance, 2024 Olympian Dana Rettke’s former club.

When Rettke, also a middle blocker, was at UW she ran some of the drills Tarnow participated in at camp, though the two didn’t chat much.

“There are definitely similarities,” 1st Alliance recruiting director or recruiting Meghan Keck said. " I think Dana had a really, really good arm. Dana was quite good at the slide. I think Lynney is good at the slide, but she’s probably even better in front off two feet. Both of them have the same kind of physical stature. They move very similar. We’re hopeful that Lynney can progress to what Dana obviously continued to progress to late in her career.”

Tarnow's big sophom*ore year set stage for recruiting season

Playing for highly-regarded teams helps, Tarnow helped her cause with a breakout sophom*ore season.

It started in the fall when she helped Benet Acadmey post a 39-3 record and reach the Class 4A state final. She led Benet in total kills (226) and average killsper set (3.2) while hitting .364.

Her play carried over the to club season when she first shined against players her age and then in April played in the open 18 division and showed she could score against older players at a time when coaches were deciding which players to offer.

“The one thing people recognize is she can score points, which is what you could see at the 18 open level, that she could score points against some of the top 18 middles of the country, which will obviously transition to the next level,” Keck said. “And for her size she does really have a quick first step and laterally is quite impressive for her size. Those are two things college coaches are looking for.”

UW camp visits pay dividends

The volleyball recruiting calendar is such that players field offers before they’re allowed to take official visits.

But Tarnow’s experience as a UW camper gave her a sense of how the Wisconsin coaches work with the players. She also feels the experience gave her insight into culture of the team.

She liked the competitiveness and teamwork she saw.

“They were angels off the court. They were so sweet, but when we got on the court they were working hard and they were completely locked in,” Tarnow said. “I just really appreciated that because they weren’t being mean to each other, they were just ready to work and they were making each other better and it’s something that people sometimes have a hard time with.”

June 15 was a busy day for top prospects

June 15 is the first day college programs can contact 2026 players, and the race for the top players not only is competitive, but it often goes quickly.

The process starts at midnight when players often begin to receive emails or texts from programs. Wisconsin scheduled an 8 a.m. meeting with Tarnow, her first of the day. UW coach Kelly Sheffield got to the point, quickly offering the scholarship, talking about the program and answering questions from Tarnow and her parents.

The whole thing lasted about 25 minutes.

“Every coach that I talked to, I wanted to know who I would primarily work with, what their team culture looks like, what playing time might look like,” Tarnow said. “Nothing can be promised, but it’s nice to know what they see for the future with you and just a little bit about living (set up). … All those picky questions, just good things to know before you’re just committing blindly.”

Tarnow had two other calls that day. Then she called Wisconsin back. She was all in.

"It’s such a huge compliment to me that I get to fit into this program and I think I would be a good fit for this program," she said, "so actually having that dream come true is amazing.”

Committing to Wisconsin volleyball is a dream come true for 2026 recruit Lynney Tarnow (2024)

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