Lady Sharks Aiming High
By Jordan Lopez
Despite coming up short at nationals last year, three time conference coach of the year, Origenes “Kiko” Benoit, hopes to bring Miami Dade College its ninth national championship in women’s volleyball this year despite having only four returning players.
But don’t let this young squad fool you, the Lady Sharks were the 2008 state champions and started the season ranked fourth in the nation in the Division I Women’s Volleyball poll. They currently sport a 7-2 (as of publication) record.
Why so much optimism around such a young team? Benoit believes that unity and the team’s hard work ethic have made this year’s squad better.
“We have less power than last year,” Benoit said. “But we are a much [more] organized team over-all.”
With nine new players and four returning members from last year’s state championship team, Benoit feels that the competition to fill out the rest of the roster spots has benefited the Lady Sharks.
Freshman middle blocker/outside hitter, Yenifer Calcano, a freshman, leads the team with 51 kills and 11 aces in just four pre-season games.
Another freshman showing promise is Mima Hajdukovic, who leads the team with 65 assists. But it’s not just the rookies who are shining; sophomores Sandra Montoya and Edgaris Franchesca” Leon, two of the four returning players from last year’s state championship team, lead the team with 51 digs and 12 blocks respectively.
Two other key players are sophomore Alexis “Joy” Barquin, a defensive specialist who has 11 digs,and freshman Anne Stebner-Chala an outside hitter.
Despite all the improvement the team has shown, Benoit stresses that the team has to work on blocking better and on serve-receiving. But Benoit is hoping the hard work will take the Lady Sharks deeper into the playoffs this year.
”It is anyone’s game once we get to nationals,” Benoit said. “There is very hard competition at that level; it’s not always the best team that wins it’s the team that plays the best. I just tell the girls to have fun and put 110 percent into every game and we should come out on top.”