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FAU Volleyball Adds 12 New Players in Hopes of Improving Results Quickly

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FAU Volleyball Adds 12 New Players in Hopes of Improving Results Quickly

Head Coach Coach Fernanda Nelson is apparently serious about taking the Owls to new heights under her leadership. FAU announced the addition of 12 new players today in a release from SID Justin Johnson.

The Owls had 14 players on 2012's roster, but saw the departure of four seniors and a RS Junior who decided to graduate early.

That would leave nine remaining, bringing the new tally to 22. However, word is that up to five of those returnees will not be back due to what could best be described as climate changes.

Additionally, a few players will focus on participating in the up and coming  emergence of Sand Volleyball competition.

Round these factors in with the 12 newcomers and you have what would be an expected final roster, numbers wise.

Good to see progress in an FAU sport which has struggled the last few years.

Here's the release:

Florida Atlantic University Head Volleyball Coach Fernanda Nelson has announced the signing of 12 student-athletes. The signing class includes eight high school seniors and four transfers, all of whom will join the Owls in fall.

"We welcome this wonderful group of ladies to the FAU family," said Nelson. "This is a very talented group and I am confident that these young ladies will be successful in the classroom and will elevate our program."

Erika Brown (Westerville, Ohio/St. Francis DeSales High School) is an all-district outside hitter who helped her team to the state final four. As a student, she is a National Honor Society member. Rightside hitter Ivana Bulajic will come to FAU from Tyler Junior College. Originally from Belgrade, Serbia, Bulajic was named to the NJCAA All-Tournament Team as a sophomore.

Alexandra Harvard, a setter from Orlando's Boone High School, had more than 1,000 assists while helping the Braves to a state runner-up finish as a senior. Savannah Hicks (Merritt Island/Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy) has had success both on the court and academically. Hicks, an outside hitter, was named "Rookie of the Year" and an all-star selection at the AAU national tournament. In the classroom, she was a member of the National Honor Society, the National Latin Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, a mathematics honor society.

Liene Mellupe (Riga, Latvia/College of Southern Idaho) was a four-time team MVP in high school, who later earned all-conference team member and a Regional MVP honors while in junior college. Madeline Osburn will come to FAU as an all-region selection while at Barron Collier High School in Naples. Nathalie Rosado (Lakeland/McKeel Academy of Technology) is a two-time 3A Player of the Year who helped the Wildcats to back-to-back district championships and is projected to impact the Owls' back line defense.

Katarina Stepanovic (Lazarevac, Serbia) will transfer to FAU after helping the University of Texas at Brownsville to an NAIA Final Four appearance. At UT-Brownsville, she played for Todd Lowery, who coached Nelson as a player at National American University. Sisters Chelsey and Kristi Tekavec also will join the Owls. Chelsey, a four-year member of the varsity volleyball team at Solon High School (Ohio), helped the Comets to a district title as a junior. She will transfer after playing one season at Valparaiso University. Kristi, Chelsey's younger sister, was a four-time first-team all-conference selection who also won the scholar-athlete award for four-consecutive years. She will be a freshman in the fall.

Nicole Unger (Lake Mary /Lake Mary High School) holds the school record for digs in a match and in a season. Her defense led the Rams to the first state Final Four in school history. Rounding out the class is Brianne Wojciakowski, a middle blocker from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Wojciakowski was a two-time all-conference selection and was named all-state as a senior. She also was a four-time Forest Hiills Northern High School honor roll member.

"I can't wait to get started," said Nelson. "Our staff will continue to work hard to give the team the best experiences of their lives."
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The Owls got a pledge from Wichita Falls High School MH 6-3 Sarah Eakin on Tuesday:

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Welcome to FAU Sarah!
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GeorgiaOwl said

Welcome to FAU Sarah!
Posted On: Nov 20th 2013, 8:03 AM #321907

Posted some crazy numbers in three years basically, just the type of player needed to continue the move upward.
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Release on Aikin and another land, NJCAA All American style:

Florida Atlantic University head volleyball coach Fernanda Nelson has announced the signing of Sarah Eakin and Kristina Rankovic.

“I am happy to welcome Sarah and Kristina to our FAU family,” said Nelson. “They are both talented players who should be able to come into the program and contribute right away. They are not only good volleyball players, but also good people who will represent the university well both on and off the court.”

Sarah Eakin (Wichita Falls, TX (HS)) is a middle blocker who was a four-time member of the all-district academic team. She earned first team all-district honors as a sophomore and was District MVP as a junior. She was on pace to set numerous school records before an injury prematurely ended her senior season.

“I chose FAU and its volleyball program because of the coaching staff’s passion for the sport and their desire to make the program great,” said Eakin.
Kristina Rankovic will come to FAU from Vernon College in Texas where she was a two-time National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American. As a sophomore, she helped the Lady Chaparrals to a Region 5 runner-up finish and was named the team’s outstanding offensive player. She also cited the coaching staff as part of her reason for choosing to become an Owl.

“I feel like the coaching staff can really help me develop as a player. FAU has an outstanding academic program and it’s located somewhere that I would love to live on a permanent basis,” said Rankovic. “It’s location made my decision that much easier.”

Both Eakin and Rankovic will enroll in classes in the Fall of 2014.

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Played a baseball tourney in high school in Wichita Falls...Sarah you will like South Florida a whole lot more.

Teambeer is the most knowledgeable FAU sports fan I know, way smarter than me.
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Add two more per SID Justin Johnson…

Florida Atlantic University head volleyball coach Fernanda Nelson has added Lexi Rhein and Genesis Viera to the FAU volleyball team.

“These two Division I transfers will be great additions to the program,” said Nelson. “The fact that they are able to start in the spring and get a head start on the fall season is a huge advantage.”
Rhein comes to FAU from the College of Charleston, where she appeared in 11 matches, averaging nearly four assists per set. She arrived at Charleston from Eastern York High School where she was a three-time All-District selection and was a first-team All-State selection. Rhein also played for Synergy Volleyball Club, which she led to a 2012 national championship.

“I am so excited about the future of FAU and the volleyball program. I’m so thankful to Coach (Nelson) for allowing me to be a part of the team and I am ready to get to work,” said Rhein.
A three-time Bright House Network Player of the Year at St. Cloud-Harmony High School, Viera will come to FAU after spending a year at the University of Tulsa. She led the Harmony Longhorns to four appearances in the state quarterfinals and a Final Four appearance as a senior.

As a freshman at Tulsa, Viera appeared in 27 matches and recorded 487 assists on the season.
“I chose FAU because it truly feels like a family,” Viera said.  “I also know that the coaching staff will push me every day.”

Both Rhein and Viera are enrolled in classes and will be eligible to play in the 2014 season with three years of eligibility remaning.

“Lexi Rhein and Genesis Viera are two high quality players who have faced high caliber competition and both will be able to come in and contribute right away at the setter position,” Nelson said.
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