San Jac volleyball players sign to four-year universities

05.09.2018 | By Jeannie Peng Mansyur

Nelson reflects on program’s last season

PASADENA, Texas – The San Jacinto College volleyball team captured a slew of awards, ending the 2017 season with all of the team’s roster signed to transfer and continue their collegiate education and volleyball careers.

This year’s team included 10 sophomores and five freshmen. All 15 will transfer to continue their education, and most continuing to play while doing so.

“Over the history of the program we have seen numerous players transfer with full scholarship offers to continue their educational and athletic goals,” said Head Coach Sharon Nelson. “Consistently, year after year, if a player wanted to move on and play at the university level then they had an opportunity to do so. San Jacinto College and its community have provided an amazing beginning for their journey.”

Nelson said she is proud of the College’s tradition of academic and athletic prowess throughout the program’s history. This season was no different. Nine of the 15 members consistently made the dean’s list with many holding Phi Theta Kappa membership. The sophomore class has nine of 10 graduating, and the entire team is transfer eligible. Nationally, the program boasts three National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Academic All Americans (GPA 3.6+), is a two-time NJCAA Academic Team of the Year (Team GPA +3.0), and is on pace to repeat as an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Academic Team of the Year (Team GPA 3.25+).

“We’ve been very blessed with focused, talented, and determined student-athletes,” added Nelson. “They have accomplished great things for many years. The transfer rate for our players over the history of the volleyball program is well into the 90 percent range. There have been a few players who had opportunities to play on, but decided to focus solely on their academic careers. Many of those went into nursing, some right here in our nationally recognized nursing program. The majority are just like this year’s team, who came to San Jac, found a home, jump started their academics with phenomenal professors, grew into confident women, and gained valuable experience for the next step of their journey. When you add the regional and national athletic honors and the 100 percent athletic opportunity to transfer and continue, you simply put a nice final touch to the package that is San Jacinto College women’s volleyball.”

MarKayla Dickie and Bradyn Rice both graduated early in December 2017 to transfer to their universities of choice. Dickie, a dean’s list student and Region XIV All-Academic Team selection, will play for the University of Arkansas – Monticello. Rice, a dean’s list student and Region XIV All-Academic Team selection, opted to transfer to Sam Houston State University to further her studies while not playing collegiate volleyball. 

The San Jac volleyball MVP, Madison Rhoder, signed with the University of Tulsa. Rhoder’s awards during her freshman and sophomore years include Region XIV Player of the Year, NJCAA National Player of the Week for October 23 – 29, 2017, All-Region XIV Region Tournament Team, First Team All-Region, NJCAA First Team All-American and AVCA Second Team All-American.

Addie Bryant, a dean’s list student, All-Region player, two-time Libero of the Year and Lee College All-Tournament Team player, will play for the University of South Carolina.

Moerani Maire, All-Region XIV, two-time Setter of the Year, two-time First-Team All-Region selection and Lee College All-Tournament Team player, will play for Lamar University.

Elena Hadzhieva, a dean’s list student and NJCAA Academic All-American, will play for Mid-America Christian University.

Raven Oates, All-Region XIV and Lee College Tournament MVP, will play for University of North Carolina – Pembroke.

Margarita Buvinic, a dean’s list student and All-Region XIV, Region XIV All-Academic Team selection and NJCAA Academic All-American, will play for Barry University.

Mir Tillman, a dean’s list and Honor’s student and Region XIV All-Academic Team selection, will play for Huston-Tillotson University.

Savannah Sheridan, an All-Region award recipient, is in the final stages of narrowing her transfer university choices.

Freshman Brenna Munsch will transfer to focus on her degree at Blinn College before moving on to a four-year university, and classmate Caitlin Pray will join the U.S. Army.

The remaining freshmen will transfer to continue playing while achieving their academic goals. Radka Brichackova, a dean’s list student, will play for Lee College; Destiny Leon will play for Marshall University; and Haley Nelson will play for Brookhaven College. 

The San Jac volleyball team ended its last season with a 27-7 record, finishing second in conference while weathering Hurricane Harvey. During the Harvey aftermath, the team gave back to the community at a local Red Cross Shelter and collected donations of water and supplies for hurricane victims. The season ended with the team ranked 12th in the NJCAA.

On trying to summarize the program’s impact and history Nelson said, “That’s practically impossible to state. But I can tell you my first memory of San Jac was as an opponent walking into the presence of Ander’s Gym right after the San Jac volleyball team claimed the national title and when Sam Cassell roamed the hallways of the Central Campus. The presence of ‘San Jac Success’ literally sat on you when you entered the gym as an opponent, and you were already mentally beaten. Student-athlete after student-athlete developed that presence and confidence here and that is a powerful impact for the future.”

When the opportunity came in 2002, Nelson joined the San Jac volleyball program and said she has not regretted that decision one time in her 16 years.

“It’s been a true honor to be a part of this program,” she said. “Being provided the opportunity to help develop future leaders in a powerful program, built by so many, was a dream come true. Although it is ending, I am incredibly blessed to have been on this journey at an amazing institution with phenomenal women who we had the opportunity to impact and who have changed my life forever.”

The San Jacinto College volleyball team won one national title in 1987, under Head Coach Becky Lidolph, and has finished as national runner-up three times since the program began in 1974. Between Becky Lidolph (1981-2001) and Sharon Nelson (2002-2018), the program has recorded more than 1,100 wins including 20 conference championships, seven conference runner-up finishes, 17 Region Coach of the Year awards, 16 regional championships and 16 national tournament appearances.

About San Jacinto College 

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. As a fiscally sound institution, the College currently holds bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. San Jacinto College is a 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Rising Star Award recipient and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. Approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students each year benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success. The College offers eight areas of study that prepare a diverse body of students to transfer to four-year colleges or universities or enter the workforce with the skills needed to support the growing industries along the Texas Gulf Coast. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce. 

For more information about San Jacinto College call 281-998-6150, visit sanjac.edu or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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