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Volleyball finishes season strong, heads to tournament

Updated: Oct 27, 2023



The University of South Carolina Salkehatchie’s volleyball team finished its season with five straight wins, advancing to play Monroe College as the sixth seed in the Region 10 tournament. The team lost the tournament match 0 - 3.


“I am beyond proud and blown away by the progress we’ve made not only as a team, but also as individuals on the court. I knew during the recruiting process that I was bringing in some winners, but it’s always a gamble when it comes to their chemistry on the court and how it will all come together,” Coach Dani Aquino said. “We, as a team, have not been without our challenges this season. But, no matter what, we come together as a family when it counts, and that is what has brought us our success.”


Aquino says the team is elated to have landed a spot in the regional tournament.


“This is such a great group of athletes, and I look forward to continuing to push them through the spring season and to prepare for regionals and beyond next season, as well,” she said.


Her thoughts are echoed by freshman captain Sydney Kashner who says she is excited to have the opportunity to continue the season in the tournament surrounded by teammates that have the same aspirations.


The winning streak began with a win over USC Union on Oct. 12 and was followed by a victory against Guilford Technical Community College in three sets on the teams’ sophomore night. JoJo Ibarra (assistant coach), Dakari Gant and Jessica Fluharty (captain) were recognized before the match for their contributions to the team.


“I wasn’t even sure I was going to play volleyball in college,” said Fluharty. “Being recognized for my achievements here was super special. Qualifying for this tournament means everything. After the first couple of practices I told the girls that with all our talent and hustle, we would go far. I am so proud of our team and our coach for pushing us to be the best we can be. I wouldn’t have wanted to share this moment with any other group of girls.”


Colleton County native Dakari Gant says she is grateful for the opportunity to play in her hometown. “Coach Aquino took a chance on me as a local player and gave me the opportunity to play the sport I love. I’m so grateful for that,” she said.


Salkehatchie followed the Sophomore Night win with victories against USC Lancaster (3-1) and Andrew College (3-1, 3-1). Aquino said taking down Lancaster, who finished second in the Region 10 regular season, was an especially satisfying victory for the team. Salkehatchie had not previously defeated Lancaster in the program’s history.


Coach Aquino says she is lucky to have some dynamic offensive players this season. Leading the team in kills are Connelly Smith with 178, Sydney Kashner with 150, Julie Anna Padgett with 108 and Faith Harvley with 106.”


Leading the defense with digs are Jessica Fluharty with 351, Leah Tevid with 298 and Julie Anna Padgett with 271. Freshman setter Serah Rego put up an incredible 482 assists for the season.



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