Passionate Seniors Leave Their Mark

by Ashleigh Young

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – It has been a season unlike any other.  

Six matches in three weeks and countless COVID-19 tests later, Miami Volleyball enters its final week of the 2020 fall season with a 4-2 record and a program-record No. 11 ranking.

 It is uncertain what will happen in the spring season and if players will return due to the new NCAA ruling, but what is certain is that four seniors have learned a lot from their time in Coral Gables and have loved every moment of being a Cane.  

 For Cameron Dobbs, her time at Miami has been filled with countless memories and unfortunate injuries, which sidelined her for her final season at The U.

 Dobbs serves as a student assistant coach for Miami this season and although it is  not what she envisioned for her final year, she is grateful to still be working with her teammates and be a part of the team.  

 The emotions will be high with this week’s matches not only being the final two of the fall season, but also senior day on Friday against rival Florida State.  

“It’s going to be bitter sweet for me and definitely emotional,” Dobbs said. “I’ve worked hard over the last four years, but also the fact that I can’t actually play my senior night is going to be tough. I’m getting emotional thinking about it now, but it will be really special being able to celebrate with my teammates and having my parents in the stands.”  

Madison Dill learned how resilient she truly was after returning to play after having her son, Kasen, in the 2018 season. Two years later, Dill is proud of what she has accomplished over the years and relishes in the fact Miami was allowed to have a player-guest list for the final matches of the season.  

 In Miami’s opening weekend of competition, no fans or family were allowed in attendance. The volleyball team’s praise and thankfulness toward athletic director Blake James could not be contained, but specifically for Dill who will have her family and son in the stands for the final time as a volleyball player.  

 “When [Jose] Keno [Gandara] told us we would be able to have our families in the stands, I texted them immediately,” Dill said. “The most important thing to me is that they are able to see me play one last time and I’m literally losing sleep over how excited I am for them to be there and can’t thank our admin enough for allowing and making this happen.”  

 With the season winding down, senior Janet Kalaniuvalu is thankful for the growth she has seen in herself since arriving to campus just last year. In her two years with Miami, Kalaniuvalu’s serve has been one feared by countless teams heading into matches.  

It’s her growth since playing for Miami she’s most thankful for.  

“It’s been a really different year with everything going on and I’ve been challenged into playing a different position than I’ve ever played before, but I think I’ve grown so much from when I got here,” Kalaniuvalu said.  

Miami has been led by dominant performances by Elizaveta Lukianova twice this season, registering 28 kills against Georgia Tech and 30 against Clemson, both top-10 marks in Miami history in a single match. Lukianova has three of the top five most kills in a single match in the conference after four matches.   

Despite it being senior day and the matches, Lukianova and company are not slowing down, especially with the Seminoles coming to town.   

“We head into every match with the mindset that it’s the most important match and this week it happens to be Florida State is the most important,” Lukianova said. “Obviously this is a special match and we want to beat them, but we’re just going to go out there and play hard and smart.”   

Miami plays Florida State on Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. and, for senior day, Oct. 16 at 3 p.m.