The men’s volleyball team defeated Cornerstone University on Saturday to rack up their 20th victory of the season. The game was the last of the season after not qualifying for national tournament pool play.The men ended the season with an overall record of 20-9 and an even 7-7 record in the Wolverine-Hoosier Conference (WHAC).
The home game was preceded by a time to honor the program’s nine graduating seniors. This group has seen the program through its four years of existence since the sport was added just three years ago in 2019.
Before recognizing the seniors, Lauren Ford, the head coach, spoke about their dedication to the program.
“These seniors are the rock and foundation on which this program is built,” Ford said. “Their hard work and dedication will not be forgotten.”
Dr. Erica Albertin, athletic director, and Taylor Eash, men’s volleyball assistant coach, joined Ford on the court to recognize the seniors.
The first player to be recognized was Andy Bennett. An accounting major, Bennett has played in 352 sets throughout his athletic career.
“It is impossible to ever be mad or sad around Andy for too long, because he doesn’t take himself too seriously,” Ford said. “His defense at the net is what makes this team so good defensively.”
The second senior, Matias da Fonseca, joined the volleyball team this year and has been a part of the soccer team for the past two years. With a major in business and a minor in sports management, Fonseca plans to design his own soccer company after graduation.
“Matias is a tremendous athlete,” Ford said. “He came in fearless and picked up on a sport he never played at the collegiate level so quickly.”
Alexander Rabadzhiev has collected 1,416 kills within 353 sets during his time at GC. A biochemistry major, he plans to go on to get a master’s degree in biotechnology.
“Alex has forced everyone around him to be better, even the opposing team,” Ford said. “He made me a better coach. Alex will go down in the books as one of the best players in the WHAC and the NAIA.”
Christian Rodriguez, an accounting major and sustainability management minor, “is normally known for back-row play,” Ford said. After college, Rodriguez plans to complete his master’s degree and gain experience in an accounting firm. Over his athletic career, Rodriguez racked up 397 digs and 293 kills.
“[Christian] came in his senior year to a role he hadn’t seen in a while,” Ford said. “He flourished.”
Ford described the next player, Lucas Sauder, as “one of the most coachable athletes I’ve ever coached.”
In his time at GC, Sauder has had 686 kills and 169 blocks. “I’ve seen him improve every single year,” Ford said. “You can tell he just loves to play.”
After graduating with an engineering physics major and environmental studies minor, Sauder will be continuing his studies at Notre Dame to get an environmental engineering degree.
Adolfo Sigala Flores is one of the seniors that was a part of the original team back in 2019. As an accounting major, Flores plans to return to GC next year to reach 150 credit hours, making him eligible for the CPA exam.
“I’m so happy Adolfo decided to finish with us,” Ford said. “He pushes all of us in practice and he always has our backs. He knows the true meaning of family.”
Michael Wahl leads the team with over 3,000 assists, a mark he broke last week. “This team doesn’t run without Michael’s skillset, leadership, desire to win and personality,” Ford said.
With a sign language interpreting major and psychology minor, Wahl plans to work as an interpreter and a volleyball coach after college.
Brayton Yoder was the final athlete to receive recognition. Over the course of three seasons, Yoder had 570 assists.
After graduating with a double major in biochemistry and molecular biology, he plans to finish getting his master’s degree.
“Brayton is one of the most athletic students to suit up for Goshen in any sport,” Ford said. “He is a coach’s player and will do anything for the team.”