Volleyball wins national title in Dallas

The Miami football team didn’t get to play for an ACC title last fall, and the basketball team may not have gone as far as many predicted in the NCAA tournament. But one Hurricanes team flew under the radar and brought a national title back to Coral Gables.

The men’s club volleyball team won the 2013 National Collegiate Volleyball Federation championship in Dallas last weekend, after beating North Carolina State in the Division 1-AA gold bracket.

Coach Dan Marinberg’s team was slotted in that bracket along with the toughest competition. Despite a first-round struggle against Texas, Miami defeated the Longhorns 28-26, 20-25, 15-12. It was the Canes’ only match that reached a decisive third set.

After dismissing Texas, Miami took down Colorado State and Boston College.

Those three victories set up a championship match against N.C. State. The Canes found motivation in the fact that Miami came away with wins over the Wolfpack this past year in football, and twice in basketball.

The streak of dominance over the Wolfpack continued in the volleyball finals: The Hurricanes pulled out a tight first set 27-25 before securing the crown with a routine 25-15 second set.

“Going to Dallas and winning the national tournament was something very special to me and our program,” said team captain Pedro Schneider, who was named tournament MVP. “It’s nice to see where the program was when I first got here and where it is today. There’s nothing better than sharing that moment with your close friends and teammates.”

Brett Hollenbach, a junior middle hitter and blocker, called the experience incredible.

“It’s my third time going to nationals, and we had really high hopes for this year,” Hollenbach said. “My freshman year we came in 16th, sophomore year we were fifth, and that was good, but we needed to improve. This year we worked our butts off in regional tournaments and we made it to Dallas. Just playing in the tournament in this big stadium – and finally winning – it was just the most amazing experience.”

With the Hurricanes losing only two seniors after this season, the team’s future looks bright.

“Expectations for next year are high,” Hollenbach said. “Definitely [going to] be a strong contender to repeat next year with our core coming back and a strong set of reserves ready to come up and fill the positions we’re losing.”

The triumph last weekend at the Dallas Convention Center left Hollenbach satisfied for now, but next season is a different story.

“It’s going to be my senior year, and I’m not going to allow a letdown on my watch,” he said.