All six sophomores who won back-to-back national championships with the Lady Sharks volleyball team were awarded scholarship offers to continue their careers at four-year schools.
Outside hitter Massiel Matos will be attending Florida Atlantic University; outside hitter Sun Wenting will be attending the University of Missouri; outside hitter Rafaella Bonifacio will be attending Bakersfield College in California; libero Thais De Castro Andrade will be attending Columbia College in Missouri; libero Camila Hernandez will be attending Texas A&M University and middle blocker Paula Barbosa Louro will be attending Park University in Missouri.
“They need to remember that they are coming from Miami Dade College and to represent us well,” said Lady Sharks head volleyball coach Origenes “Kiko” Benoit.“They have a goal to get a degree, get an education and keep working hard.”
Matos was the team’s top player. She averaged 3.68 kills per set, totaled 368 kills this season, 2.31 digs per set and averaged .63 service aces per set. Matos was named the National Junior College Athletic Association Volleyball National Tournament Most Valuable Player two years in a row.
“My season was amazing and unforgettable,” Matos said. “It was a team that any player would like to have. We managed to be champions because the teamwork was key in every game, always united on and off the court.”
Wenting also played a huge role for the Lady Sharks. She averaged 3.45 kills per set, totaled 324 kills this season while averaging 2.96 digs per set. Wenting also had 278 digs and a hitting percentage of .343.
“The season for me was the best season forever,” Wenting said. “It’s not because we didn’t lose any games, but also because we fight together. To be a volleyball player, my dream is to play a game that don’t care to win or lose but use all my power to play every point with my teammates. After I played for the sharks my dream became reality.”
Bonifacio averaged 3.10 kills per set, totaled 291 kills, 348 digs and averaged a hitting percentage of .314.
“My season was perfect,” Bonifacio said. “My team is awesome. I will never forget this team. We won every game of the season. I do not think it was easy, but I think we worked very hard for this.”
Liberos, Thais De Castro Andrade and Camila Hernandez also contributed to the team’s success.
Andrade contributed 455 kills and averaged 4.89 digs per set. Hernandez was named to the 2017 NJCAA Volleyball National All-Tournament team.
Louro led the team in blocks per set (1.17).
With back-to-back national titles, a 34-0 perfect season and a 44-game winning streak dating back to Oct. 25, 2016, the departing sophomores leave a legacy but all agree they also got a ton from their time at MDC.
“The important thing is not how to be a better player, but how to be a better human being,” Wenting said. “That is also what Coach Kiko always taught us about. No matter where I am going in the future, I will never forget that I was a shark. And I will take the spirit of MDC with me the rest of my volleyball career.”