Sinclair’s women’s volleyball team ended their season on Nov. 3 after qualifying for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Regional Volleyball tournament held in Port Huron, Mich.
The Tartan Pride finished third in the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) with an overall record of 23-12.
They had a rocky start to the season, only winning two of their first nine matches. Their first game of the season was a hard fought loss at home against conference rivals Lakeland Community College.
Despite this, they were able to come together and win 21 out of the next 24 matches, including a 3-0 win in the rematch against Lakeland.
They qualified for the District Tournament on Nov. 1 when they beat Lansing Community College 3-2.
The team excelled despite the fact that Shayna Bierlein, one of the team captains, had to sit out for a good part of the season due to a torn ACL.
After Bierlein’s injury many of the players were forced into new positions, but they stepped up and really showed their flexibility. Two players who specifically stood out were sophomores Caroline Smith and team captain Sarah Bettinger, who both placed 1st team all conference.
“[The injury] pushed us as a team to start playing better not only for us, but for Shayna too since she couldn’t play,” Bettinger said.
The tournament run for the team ended after two losses in the district qualifiers. One of those losses was to Muskegon Community College, who was ranked 19th in the division.
This was a big year not just for the players, but for the volleyball program itself as they earned their 800th win and Coach Gan earned his 350th win.
With the season now over the team is looking ahead to next season. Bettinger finished her career with the team, but she will still be attending Sinclair and looks forward to contributing from the sidelines.
Those who are returning next year have high expectations for the upcoming season. Carly Barhorst, a freshman middle back on the team, said that she’s excited for next year.
“After seeing the improvements we made this year we’re going to add to that and we’ll be able to lead the incoming freshman,” Barhorst said.
Coach Gan is also looking forward to next year, which will be his 20th season. He already has four new recruits committed to the team. Gan’s goal is to make it to Nationals next season. He says he has the talent, with six players currently set to return next year.
He is very happy to continue coaching this team. “They are very respectful,” Gan said. “They love the sport so they play their heart out every game.”