Volleyball Team Loses Nationals
The unfamiliar feeling of losing a game still lingered in the minds of the Miami Dade College women’s volleyball team when they returned from the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I National Championship.
The Lady Sharks, who hadn’t lost a game all season until the national tournament, finished the season 35-2, and 12-0 in the Southern Conference. They didn’t win the national championship they coveted, instead finishing sixth in the country.
“It’s terrible, we had a goal and it wasn't accomplished,” said freshman middle blocker Marifranchi Rodriguez the only MDC player named to the All-Tournament Team. “I don't know what happened to us as a team.”
After opening the tournament with a straight-set victory against 16th seeded Gadsden State Community College 25-11, 25-12, 25-17, the Lady Sharks were stunned by 8th seeded Salt Lake Community College 31-29, 25-22, and 25-15.
The loss was the first of two for the team during the three-day tournament held in late-November at Missouri State University-West Plains
“We had 16 good teams, and whoever played the best is the one that actually ended up taking everything,” said Head Coach Origenes “Kiko” Benoit. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Assistant Coach James Exley attributed the loses to a lack of game-day execution.
“A lot of them were shell-shocked about it,” Exley said. “It was a funk, but we had a meeting and most of them responded pretty well for the next game.”
The Lady Sharks then defeated 5th seeded Blinn College 18-25, 25-14, 25-11, 25-14, before losing in three sets to North Idaho College 25-21, 25-23, and 31-29.
Freshman outside hitter Steffany Roldan said she sees the defeat as a learning opportunity.
“We need to communicate with more enthusiasm and a little more energy," Roldan said. “I am pretty sure next year we will win it all.”
Although the season has ended for the Lady Sharks, Benoit said he will hit the recruiting trail hard to replace the eight Lady Sharks expected to graduate.
“If you don’t expect big things, nothing will happen,” Benoit said. “We’re going to train hard to win again; we don’t train to lose.”