McNeese first year volleyball head coach Sasha Karelov announces incoming class

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LAKE CHARLES — McNeese first year head volleyball coach Sasha Karelov has announced her first recruiting class and its one that consists of six transfers and two freshmen.

“I am thrilled to be adding this group of transfers and freshmen to our program this fall,” said head coach Sasha Karelov.  “Not only are they talented and high-achieving, but they are also such amazing people off the court.  They will play a huge part in shifting the culture in this new era of McNeese Volleyball.”

The newcomers include Carlee Brooks (Raleigh, N.C./Western Carolina), Nejra Hanic (Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina/Little Rock), Sanni Rantanen (Tampere, Finland/Kuortane HS), Dejah Dade (Corona, CA./UC-Riverside), Raina McWhirter (Montgomery, Texas/Palm Beach Atlantic), Nadia Manitzas (San Antonio, Texas/St. Mary’s), Mia Perales (San Antonio, Texas/UTSA), and Meagan Mayfield (Baytown, Texas/Barbers Hill HS).

CARLEE BROOKS – 6-1, SOPH., MIDDLE BLOCKER – RALEIGH, N.C. (WESTERN CAROLINA)

In her first playing season with the Catamounts in 2021, Brooks played in five matches and collected seven kills, and seven blocks…attended Wake Forest High for her final two prep seasons…began her high school career as a standout at Knightdale High School where she set the program record in blocking with 83 total blocks…three-time all-conference player…also played basketball and softball…comes from a very athletic family as her parents played football, basketball, softball, and volleyball…played club volleyball for Triangle Volleyball Club.

“Carlee is quick off the ground attacking and an active blocker.  She played at the same club I played for and I know she loves to compete.”

NEJRA HANIC – 6-0, JR., OUTSIDE HITTER – SARAJEVO, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (LITTLE ROCK)

Hanic played two seasons at Arkansas-Little Rock where she played in 45 matches…she hit .153 in while with the Trojan with 1.93 kills and 2.16 points per set…In two her two seasons at Little Rock, she totaled 255 kills, 44 digs, 49 blocks (four solo) and 284.5 points…put down a career-high 19 kills and 20.5 points against Troy (10/1/2021) …registered a career-high five blocks against ULM (10/29/2021)…Graduated in the top 15 percent of her high school class …Played club at OK Novi Grad … Led her club team to first place at the International Tournament in Makarska where she claimed the individual prize as well as first place at the International Tournament in Sarajevo where she was named MVP …Guided her club team to a third place finish at the National Youth Tournament.

“Nejra has a fast arm and can score on the left-side and right-side. I’m excited to help develop her all-around game.”

SANNI RANTANEN – 6-3, FR., MIDDLE BLOCKER – TAMPERE, FINLAND (KUORTANE SPORTS HIGH SCHOOL)

Member of the U16, U17, U18, and U19 championship teams… Played for the Mestaruusliiga Champion League her senior season (2020) where she was named Most Valuable Player…Member of the U19 Nevza Northern European Championship Gold Medal Team…Member of the U18 Finnish Championship Gold Medal Team…Northern European U17 Nevza Gold Medal Team…Member of the U17 Championship Team that qualified for the Finnish National Team…Member of the U17 Nevza Northern European Championship Bronze Medal Team…Member of the U17 All-Star team…Member of the U16 Silver Medal Finnish Championship Team…Member of the U16 Nevza Northern Championship Gold Medal Team.

“Sanni brings a ton of international experience to our gym. She has a calm, mature demeanor as well as great court vision and a fluid arm swing.”

DEJAH DADE – 5-10, FR., SETTER, CORONA, CA. (UC-RIVERSIDE)

Played three seasons at UC-Riverside where she played in 62 matches and dished out 711 assists including over 300 in each of the last two seasons…Dished out a career high 39 assists against Cal-Baptist her sophomore season where she averaged 6.18 assists per set…Was second on the team in assists the last two seasons…Graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in 2018.

“Dejah has four years of experience setting and hitting in the Big West.  She’s a gifted athlete and an excellent communicator.  She will undoubtably make our gym better.”

RAINA McWHIRTER – 5-9, SOPH., SETTER, MONTGOMERY, TEXAS (PALM BEACH ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY)

Attended Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2021 where she saw action in two matches… Recorded an assist in each win over Florida Tech (Oct. 9) and West Georgia (Oct. 22)…Graduate of Montgomery (Texas) High…member of the National Honor Society…earned Academic All-District and Academic All-State honors…named team MVP her senior season…earned all-district most valuable setter her final year after being all-district second team as a junior…named to the 5A All-State team in 2020…won the 2018 Homeschool National Championship.

“Raina is a dynamic setter with the drive to be the best in everything she does.  She’s a natural leader and makes everyone around her better.”

NADIA MANITZAS – 5-4, JR., LIBERO, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (ST. MARY’S UNIVERSITY)

Attended St. Mary’s in San Antonio, Texas for two seasons where she was third on the team with 23 service aces and fourth with 192 digs for an average of 2.18 per set her sophomore season…tied for the team lead with 12 service aces and averaged 1.97 digs per set as a Freshman…named to the Lone Star Spring Commissioner’s Honor Roll twice…was a three-time All-District selection at Reagan High (San Antonio)… helped lead the Rattlers to back-to-back Co-District Championships… graduated Cum Laude.

“Nadia’s platform is calm and she moves on the court with ease.  Her bubbly personality and ability to connect with others will be great for our culture.”

MIA PERALES – 5-6, GR., SETTER, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (UTSA)

Attended UTSA for four years…as a senior with the Roadrunners, she played in 70 sets…third on the team with 179 digs for an average of 2.56 per set, 18 assists and 14 service aces…recorded 10 or more digs in eight matches including 10 or more in her final four matches of the season…recorded a season high 23 digs against La. Tech and a season high three service aces against North Texas…attended Antonian College Prep High School…a three-time all-district selection…led team to the second round of the playoffs as a sophomore and to the final four as a junior…had 376 digs and 766 assists as a junior…named to the academic honor roll and academic all-state.

“Mia has four years of experience setting and defending in Conference-USA.  She plays some of the best right-back defense I’ve seen and has a high volleyball IQ.”

MEAGAN MAYFIELD – 5-10, FR., MIDDLE BLOCKER/OPPOSITE, BAYTOWN, TEXAS (BARBERS HILL HS)

Attended Barbers Hill High where she a four year leatterwinner…member of three district championship teams…two time All-District…two-time All-Academic…as a senior, she was the 2021 Baytown Sun Area’s MVP, 2021 AVCA All-America watchlist, 2021 GHVCA Post-Season Academic Team, 2021 GHCVA Post-Season Team, 2021 THSCA Academic All-State, 2021 District MVP, was one of the 2021 Houston Area standout Middle Blockers…selected to the SETCA All-Star Game…also was a member of the track team where she holds the school high jump record with a jump of 5’7″…three-time district champ…area, regional, and state qualifier.

“Meagan jumps well and has the potential to play different positions for us.  Her attention to detail and coachability is unmatched.”

2022 McNeese Volleyball Newcomers

Carlee Brooks- 6-1, Soph., Middle Blocker, Raleigh, N.C. (Western Carolina)

Nejra Hanic- 6-0, Jr., Outside Hitter, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina (Little Rock)

Sanni Rantanen- 6-3, Fr., Middle Blocker, Tampere, Finland (Kuortane HS)

Dejah Dade- 5-10, Sr., Setter, Corona, CA. (UC-Riverside)

Raina McWhirter- 5-9, Soph., Setter, Montgomery, Texas (Palm Beach Atlantic University)

Nadia Manitzas- 5-4, Jr., Libero, San Antonio, Texas (St. Mary’s University)

Mia Perales- 5-6, Gr., Setter, San Antonio, Texas (UTSA)

Meagan Mayfield- 5-10, Fr., Middle Blocker/Opposite, Baytown, Texas (Barbers Hill HS)

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