Park volleyball coach Mike Talamantes had a daunting task ahead of him for the 2017 season, replacing two irreplacable players in NAIA Player of the Year Wendy Romero and AMC Libero of the Year Daniela Duarte. Talamantes exceeded expectations, adding 17 newcomers that add firepower to the varsity squad and fill the newly formed developmental program.
MEET THE NEWCOMERS FOR 2017
Nada Meawad (L) & Noura Meawad (R) (Cairo, Egypt)
Nada is one of the most decorated players in all of Egypt, with the highlight being representing her country in the 2016 Rio Olympics in beach volleyball. Noura has played along her sister indoors for several years, including wearing the country colors while representing Egypt in the both the African and World Championships.
"To compete on the national stage, you always need impact players, and these two young ladies will do just that for our program. We've been fortunate to have signed some great players the past few years, and Nada and Noura continue that tradition, with Nada stepping in immediately to fill a big hole on the outside for us, while Noura will line up on the far side as our new opposite."
Amanda Santos (Junior, Libero / Outside Hitter)
Talamantes on Santos... "We really wanted to improve our ball control this year, we have great middle blockers returning, so we wanted to make sure we could dig as well as we did last year around the block. Not an easy thing to do but Amanda will help out tremendously as she is a great all-around player who excels on the defensive side of the game."
Originally from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Amanda played for Central Florida in 2015, helping her squad to a top 10 finish in NJCAA Division I, along the way winning the conference and regional championship.
Maren Mair (Sophomore, Middle Blocker/Right Side)
Talamantes on Mair... "Just a stud, that would be the way I describe Maren, one of the most decorated junior college players we've ever signed, who I think still has a huge upside. She can slot as a middle or opposite and make an impact blocking or scoring so expect to see a lot of this young lady for the next three years."
At Johnson County Community College in 2015: NJCAA All American (first team), All Region (first team), All Conference (first team) and Kansas Jayhawk CC Conference Freshman Player of the Year, Twice named KJCCC Player of the Week, NJCAA National Championship fifth place finish (16 teams in Phoenix, Arizona).
As a senior in high school in 2014: Missouri All State (second team, Class 4), All Region (first team), All District (first team), All Conference (first team), Academic All State, MO-KAN All Star Team, Platte County High School record holder with 314 Kills. KC Power, 17-1, 11th place finish in USAV 17 Open Division (32 teams in Minneapolis, Minnesota).
Celina Monteiro (Sophomore, Libero)
Talamantes on Monteiro... "We graduated the best libero in the country last year, and were lucky enough to add one of the toughest libero's we faced all last year, so we know Celina understands what it will take to compete at the levels we want to reach. Huge competitor that I am excited to work with!"
From Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Celina was named the 2016 Heart of America Freshman of the Year along with picking up second team all-conference awards while competing at Missouri Valley College. Will transfer from the Vikings to the Pirates for the 2017 season.
Sarah Baker (Junior, Middle Blocker/Rightside)
Talamantes on Baker... "Another player I'm hoping can help guide our youth movement in the right direction. A signee from Allen Community College, but a local product from Oak Park High School, Sarah will help us at the net and with her experience at the college level she can also set the right example every day in the gym."
Coming to Park University in 2017 from Allen County Community College.
Emily Cordray (Freshman, Setter)
Talamantes on Cordray... "This young lady has a lot of heart, and I'm very happy she chose to become a Pirate. To sustain a strong program we need great players and great people, Emily will battle back from an injury to get to that level as a player because she is already a great person."
The former Lathrop High School setter was a three-year Academic All-State honoree as well as competing for the varsity squad for all four years.
Jac Perry (Freshman, Outside Hitter)
Talamantes on Perry... "Tough young lady to read, but once I understood the intensity on her face is just a sign of how competitive she is, then I knew she was a Pirate. Jac's brings a heavy arm that can help us on the pins and another quality person that will make this another fun year in the gym."
Jacqueline was a member of the Blue Springs volleyball program, captain her final two years along with helping the team to district victories in 2014 and 2015, while also competing for the Boost volleyball club for the last six seasons.
Whitney Johnson (Freshman, Libero/Setter)
Talamantes on Johnson... "Great kid, we just loved her after her tryout and think she'll be a great addition to our program. Plays with a chip on her shoulder which I knew I wanted on our squad."
Whitney played at Kearney High School, alongside fellow incoming Pirate Ashley Mick.
Lilia Thrasher (Sophomore, Outside Hitter/Libero
Talamantes on Thrasher... "Lilia is great, another player who can help our ball control as she has a great platform and can play a couple of positions very well."
An all-conference player at Liberty North High School, she was also an All-Academic performer at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
Sami Cloe (Junior, Setter)
Talamantes on Cloe... "With the youth movement going on this year, we really needed someone with some experience to come in, and the setter position is such a pivotal role that having Sami locked up will really help us reach our potential this year. A lot like our returning All-American setter, Danna Gomes, Sami is very calm but gets the job done!"
Originally from Rogers, Arkansas, she helped her high school team advance to the second round of the state tournament her senior year. After high school, she attended Allen Community College, in the Jayhawk Conference, and led the team with 652 assists on the year.
Carley Ezzell (Freshman, Middle Blocker)
Talamantes on Ezzell… "Great young middle blocker to go along with our two returning senior middle blockers. Carley will learn a lot training in this position group and I'm expecting big things from her very soon."
As a member of the Lafayatte High School volleyball team, in Carley's senior year, the squad won the district title and the city jamboree. She also was a very decorated player being named First-Team All-City, First-Team All Newspress, Firs-Team All-Conference, Second-Team All-District, and Second-Team All-Region.
Ashley Warehime (Freshman, Outside Hitter)
Talamantes on Warehime… "Watch out for this young lady, one of the best athletes we've ever signed, and just a kid who will help us in so many ways. Ashley is a big leaper with a nice arm that can score in and out of system."
At Circle City High School she was named All-League in 2015 and 2016, along with being named to the All-Academic Team.
Makayla Michalski (Freshman, Libero/Setter)
Talamantes on Michalski… "This is going to sound funny, but we needed a talker, someone who just kept everyone engaged. We've got great players but needed someone kept the chatter going in the gym, and Makalya can do that for us and play a couple positions which made her a key pick up for us."
Makayla is a graduate of St. James Academy and was involved in club volleyball throughout her high school career.
Ashley Mick (Freshman, Outside Hitter/Libero)
Talamantes on Mick… "We like chemistry, so signing two players from the same team is always a plus for us, as we know they can work together! Ashley competed for the Boost Volleyball Club and I think will really bring this young team together because she has a great personality, and can play the game!"
Ashley played at Kearney High School alongside fellow incoming Pirate Whitney Johnson.
Alissa Flint (Freshman, Outside Hitter)
Talamantes on Flint… "We were looking for some players, who could come in and bolster our pin offense as we graduated all three starting pins from a year ago, and Alissa can definitely help us in that area, along with just being a great competitor that will fit in nicely with the group we have here."
The Nixa, Missouri native was named all-conference, all-district and all region the last two years while leading her squad to a 2015 championship in the COX.
Mackenzie Nunn (Freshman, Libero)
Talamantes on Nunn… "Fast, really really fast - that's what I think about everytime I watch Mackenzie play. She has the speed to be a great libero and I think will fit in well with the athletes on the roster, just a great kid who competes every play, very excited to have her aboard."
As a senior at Lee's Summit North Mackenzie tallied the most digs in 2017 as well as being named team MVP, All-Conference honorable mention and received the prestigious Hammerin' Hank Award.