Clubs set sights on gold medal, victory

University of Miami club volleyball players are gearing up for nationals.

The team will compete at the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation’s tournament in Dallas, Texas, beginning Saturday.

“I’m excited about nationals,” junior Andre Abadin said. “This is the best team we’ve had since my freshman year.”

At the tournament, teams compete against each other in their respective pools, and depending on how many games a team wins, it is placed into one of three divisions, Abadin said.

The goal is to be in the gold division, because those teams will play for the national title, while the other two divisions, silver and bronze, are for showcase.

“Nationals is the biggest tournament around the country,” said sophomore Jesus Melendez, who is inactive from the club this semester to focus on academics. “Even schools from Europe and Canada come to participate.”

In 2012, the men’s team placed fifth overall, losing only two games to the University of Florida and to eventual champion UCLA in the semifinals.

The women’s team has placed second in each tournament they’ve played in this year, and Miami took first place at a Florida Atlantic University tournament.

“Playing in the club is great because we still get to compete without the huge commitment of playing on a varsity team,” freshman Alexandra Rios said.

When asked of their expectations for nationals, Abadin and Rios said they expect both teams to compete for the championship.

Men’s coach Dan Marinberg, a lawyer who played club volleyball in college, is a large factor behind the continued growth and success of the volleyball club.

The club was founded at UM in the early 1980s with barely enough members to fill each position on the court.

It slowly grew to more than 50 members throughout the 1990s, and  has become one of the strongest club sports on campus.

The UM club has also competed in tournaments at the University of Florida, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University, University of South Florida and Florida State University. Usually, men and women do not participate in the same tournament, with the exception of the national competition.

Current players hail from Brazil, France, Australia and all over the United States.

“Volleyball is fun,” Abadin said. “It’s a great stress reliever, and you build friendships with people you don’t normally see.”