State Colleges

Six games, six wins. This college team is off to its best start thanks to a new coach

Before arriving at NSU, coach Crutchfield won 85.5 percent of his games in 13 seasons at West Liberty, which is the current record in Division II.
Before arriving at NSU, coach Crutchfield won 85.5 percent of his games in 13 seasons at West Liberty, which is the current record in Division II. Nova Southeastern University

It’s almost impossible to believe, but the Nova Southeastern University Sharks men’s basketball team — which is off to the best start in program history — has won two consecutive games by identical 105-102 scores.

The first of those games went triple overtime against Caldwell. The second game was decided in the first overtime against Florida Southern.

NSU, in its first season under coach Jim Crutchfield, is 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Sunshine State Conference. That’s impressive because the Sharks finished just 6-20, 3-15 last season under coach Gary Tuell.

On Saturday, NSU can surpass last season’s win total if it beats visiting Florida Tech. But perhaps the first major test of NSU’s revitalized program will come on Dec. 30, when it hosts rival Barry University, ranked 11th in the nation in the NCAA’s Division II.

Before arriving at NSU, Crutchfield won 85.5 percent of his games in 13 seasons at West Liberty, which is the current record in Division II.

MIAMI

It’s a sad time for the Miami Hurricanes women’s volleyball team.

The Hurricanes’ bounce-back season ended last week in a four-set loss to the second-ranked Florida Gators in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Miami put up a fight in Gainesville, winning the second set and taking a 16-12 lead in the fourth. But the Gators took over from there, and now the Canes must ponder a future without some stellar seniors.

The list starts with ACC Player of the Year Olga Strantzali, a native of Greece. Two local stars have also ended their collegiate careers: defensive specialist Sylvia Hernandez from Miami Westminster Christian and outside hitter Brooke McDermott of Terra. And Texan Sakile Simmons, a middle blocker, must also be replaced.

Still, it was a very good Canes season, finishing 22-6 after going 15-17 with no playoffs in 2016.

The 2018 team will revolve around setter Haley Templeton, who was the ACC Freshman of the Year in 2014 and a first-team all-league pick this season. She will be a senior next season.

Templeton will set up hitters such as Kolby Bird, Lucia Pampana, Elizavela Lukianova, Cameron Dobbs and Madison Dill.

MIAMI DADE COLLEGE

The Sharks women’s volleyball team, which won its second consecutive national title last month, is sending sophomore outside hitter Sun Wenting of China to the next level. She signed with the University of Missouri.

MDC’s Massiel Matos, an outside hitter from the Dominican Republic and the MVP of the national tournament, is deciding between scholarship offers from Missouri and Florida Atlantic.

FIU

The FIU women’s basketball team, with no seniors on its roster, has added depth for 2018-2019, signing three players.

One of the recruits is 5-9 guard Sheslanie Laureano, the most athletic player on a Miami Ferguson team that made it to the 2017 state final.

FIU’s other recruits are 5-11 guard Paris Netherly of Texas and 6-0 forward Ce’Nara Skanes of Oklahoma.

If everyone with eligibility returns to FIU next season, the Panthers would have 14 players on their roster.

Meanwhile, 6-4 Ferguson center Cheyanne Daniels, who has returned after sustaining an ACL injury to her right knee, is just a junior but has already committed to FIU for 2019-2020.

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