The Lady Sharks volleyball team finished third at the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas in late November.
It was the first time the team didn’t reach the national championship game since 2015. They finished the season with a 29-3 record.
“I know it’s impossible to win every year. This year, even though it was not what we’re looking for, I think we still had a great year,” said head coach Origenes “Kiko” Benoit. “We won the conference, we won the region, we won the state and being third in the nation is not bad at all.”
The Lady Sharks kicked-off the tournament on Nov. 21 with a victory against 15th seeded Gadsden State 3-0 (25-9, 25-19, 25-15). In the quarter finals, they faced some resistance but were able to overcome it, defeating 10th seeded Iowa Western 3-1 (21-25, 25-14, 25-20, 25-23).
In the semifinals, Miami Dade College lost to third-seeded Seward County 3-2 in a five-set thriller on Nov. 22. The Lady Sharks were down 0-2, but won two consecutive sets before losing the third and final set 15-8.
On Nov. 23, they defeated Polk State College 3-0 in the consolation match to finish third in the nation.
“We were almost there, a few points only separated us from the final and that was very painful for us,” said freshman libero Paola Pimentel. “We had to make the worst situation productive so that we could lift our heads and move on to win one last game.”
After the tournament, three MDC players were named to the NJCAA DI All-America teams. Yaniris Miller-Green, who had 327 kills and 180 digs in 111 sets was named to the first team; Camila De la Rosa, who had 1,200 assists and was ranked fourth in the nation in assists per set (11.32) was named to the second team. Scherine Dahoue, who led the Sharks in kills (410) and kills per set (3.66), received honorable mention.
Although the team struggled with chemistry and communication at the beginning of the season, they accumulated important wins that led them to the state and regional championships. This year’s state title marks the 45th championship in the program’s history.
Miami Dade College finished the season ranked in the top 10 in most national statistical categories. They ranked third in kills per set (13.64) and assists per set (12.91), fifth in points per set (17.6), sixth in hitting percentage (.305) and seventh in blocks per set (2.86).
The Lady Sharks lose several key players to graduation—outside hitters Scherine Dahoue, Julia Ortiz, Issaura Santos and Yaniris Miller-Green, and middle blockers Kimberlie Correa, Alexis Dow and Vanda Zimova—but head coach Origenes “Kiko” Benoit is confident his team will be playing in the national tournament next season.
“We had a very solid team, which we’ve been having those things for last three, four years,” Benoit said. “My expectation here is to do better every year. I mean, work harder and try to do better and do better, that’s what we’re here for.”