Archive | Women’s Athletics

Portera’s caring attitude aids volleyball team

It’s pretty easy to tell that Indiana Wesleyan University Volleyball Middle Blocker Kylie Portera (so) is a nursing major.

“I could tell within the first week [I met her] that she was a nurse,” Outside Hitter Sarah Collicott (so), one of Portera’s roommates, said. “Just through the way she treats people and cares for people, she’s really level-headed in a lot of situations.”

Kylie Portera (#7) brings her nurse's attitude to the volleyball team.

Kylie Portera (#7) brings her nurse’s attitude to the volleyball team.

“Kylie has a personality that is perfect for a nurse,” Head Coach Candace Moats said. “She sees peoples’ needs and she cares for them.”

Portera’s caring personality and hard work on the court have been instrumental in the volleyball team’s success this season. Through Nov. 12, she ranked fourth on the team with 238 kills. Now, the Wildcats are entering the final stretch of a very successful season in which they won the Crossroads League regular-season title for the third straight year.

But ironically enough, Moats and Portera actually formed their relationship in the midst of defeat.

“I was at a club tournament the summer after my junior year [of high school] and I was playing a game and I had heard from someone that there was going to be someone from IWU there,” Portera said. She added her team was not playing well that day.

“It was one of those games where, at the end, you talk as a team and then everyone just splits out and goes by their parents,” Portera said.

Moats didn’t care that Portera’s team was playing badly. She saw something special in Portera that she knew she liked.

Portera goes up for a block.

Portera goes up for a block.

“Kylie’s team was not doing well at the time, but I saw her constantly staying focused and talking to her teammates, telling them to keep their heads up,” Moats said. “Her coach was getting somewhat angry, and she was keeping her poise. And I just was so impressed with how she handled this whole disappointing experience. For her, it seemed like it was bigger than just the game.”

Moats approached Portera after the game. Portera was surprised that anyone would want to talk to a member of her team after its subpar performance.

“I just spoke truth to her and said, ‘I watched you and you inspired me,’” Moats recalled.

From that moment, Portera said she knew she had to look at IWU as a possible college to attend. One month later, she visited, and she was sold right away. She decided she would attend the university as a nursing major and play on the volleyball team the next fall.

Portera’s nursing mentality showed itself immediately to her teammates.

“I could tell that she really had a heart for God with everything, whether through her actions or words spoken,” said Defensive Specialist Sam Elkin (so), who now also rooms with Portera.

Portera didn’t play much her freshman year because the Wildcats already had All-American Middle Blocker Kristine Egebrecht (alumna ’14), but she’s had a breakout campaign this fall.

“[Kylie’s] gotten a lot more confident this year, and she’s taking a lot more responsibility as she finds herself as more of a contributor on the court,” Moats said.

But Portera hopes Wildcats fans will watch her team for more than just good volleyball – she wants them to see a glimpse of the love of Christ.

“Now I know I don’t [treat my teammates] perfectly,” Portera said. “But I hope when people watch our games, they see that the way we work together on the court is glorifying to God.”

Posted in Sports, Women's AthleticsComments (0)

Volleyball cruises past Marian in Crossroads League Quarterfinals

The No. 19-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University volleyball team (30-7) ran through the Marian University Knights (11-22) in the quarterfinal round of the Crossroads League Tournament Tuesday.

Top-seeded IWU had no problem against the eighth-seeded Knights, winning the match 3-0.

Wildcats Head Coach Candace Moats said she knew IWU was the better team coming in, and it got the job done.

“I think that, for us, we worked to a place where we kind of established ourselves,” Moats said. “It’s just being consistent now and playing hard and really going after it.”

Bianca Cifaldi (so) had 15 kills for the Wildcats.

Bianca Cifaldi (so) had 15 kills for the Wildcats.

The Knights kept the score close in the first set until IWU’s Ashlen Buck (so) began serving with the score at 14-10. Behind Buck’s strong serving, the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run and eventually won the game 25-12.

Marian again came out strong in the second game, tying the game at 10 and forcing Coach Moats to call a Wildcats timeout. The Cats went on a 15-4 run after the timeout and took the game 25-14.

Coach Moats said she thought the Wildcats let their guard down a bit during Game 3. They won the game easily by a score of 25-17, but allowed the Knights to hang around and score easy points on kills.

“I think we just need to really seriously play sharp all the time and we can’t let down,” Moats said.

Bianca Cifaldi (so) had an outstanding match for the Wildcats, finishing with 15 kills. Coach Moats said she was happy for Cifaldi.

“She needed this kind of game,” Moats said. “She’s been working really hard and she just hasn’t quite reached that next level, and so to be able to do that tonight was really encouraging.”

The Wildcats advanced to the semifinal round of the Crossroads League Tournament. They will play Bethel Thursday, Nov. 13 at Luckey Arena.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Sports, Women's AthleticsComments (0)

Split season brings challenges for golf and tennis teams

Soccer is a fall sport and basketball is played in the winter. But when do sports like tennis and golf play their seasons? The answer is both fall and spring.

The women's golf team has a split season: playing half their schedule in the fall and half in spring.

The women’s golf team has a split season: playing half their schedule in the fall and half in spring.

The men’s and women’s golf and tennis teams at Indiana Wesleyan University have split seasons: playing half of the season in the fall and half in spring.

Unpredictable Indiana weather is the main reason for the split season, according to Men’s Golf Head Coach Austin Conroy. There simply isn’t enough good weather in either individual season to play a full schedule.

Conroy said a split season is necessary at the collegiate level.

“If we just did a spring season, then you know, that’s what high school sports do,” Conroy said. “We’re a college program.”

Conroy said there are lots of events in the fall that help improve the team’s NAIA national ranking in the spring, when they play their league season and the NAIA national tournament is held.

Women’s tennis Head Coach Eddy Shigley said he “loves” the fall season.

“The weather’s awesome and [players] get to play all summer and they come ready,” Shigley said. “They come prepared, they come tennis-ready.”

The Crossroads League is the only NAIA conference to play its tennis conference schedule in the fall. Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams won the league championship, earning an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament next May in Mobile, Ala.

Men’s tennis player Kyle Johnson (sr) said it’s tough to have such a long wait between qualifying and playing in NAIA Nationals.

“You have to wait six months before [you] can play which is kind of unfortunate when you’re coming off such a high,” Johnson said.

Coach Conroy also said it’s hard to maintain the momentum from the fall into the spring season, about a four-month layoff. He sees the fall and spring as two different seasons.

Johnson said team chemistry is also a disadvantage to the split-season format.

“We try to keep in contact with each other and camaraderie going but at the same time we aren’t with each other as much,” Johnson said.

Kyle Johnson (sr) said it's hard to keep momentum going during a 4 month break in the season.

Kyle Johnson (sr) said it’s hard to keep momentum going with a 4 month break in the season.

Both Coach Conroy and Coach Shigley said their teams stay together through offseason workouts, study tables and devotional times.

“I think it’s really important for us to have shared spiritual experiences that aren’t just in season,” Shigley said.

Another problem with the split-season format is practice times during the winter months. The tennis teams are able to practice in the Troyer Fieldhouse, but spring teams like baseball, softball and track and field have priority. The golf teams are not so lucky, as they cannot practice in the fieldhouse.

The tennis teams finished up their fall seasons at the Crossroads League championship on October 4. The golf teams wrapped up their fall seasons this week at the NCCAA National Championship tournament in Panama City Beach, Fla. Spring seasons begin in the middle of March.

Posted in Men's Athletics, Sports, Women's AthleticsComments (0)

Women’s soccer gives gutsy effort in loss to unbeaten Spring Arbor

The Indiana Wesleyan University women’s soccer team lost 0-2 Wednesday, Oct. 22 in a physical contest against the Crossroads League’s only undefeated team, Spring Arbor University.

From the start of the game, the Cougars, ranked No. 9 in the NAIA, put a lot of pressure on the Wildcat defense. They finally broke through in the 12th minute when Shannon Balcer (jr) headed in a corner kick from the far post to give Spring Arbor a 1-0 lead.

Photo by by Becka Roth

Photo by by Becka Roth

The Wildcats held strong the rest of the half, quelling several Cougar attacks while producing a few offensive strikes of their own.

The even possession continued through into the second half, but the physicality of both teams increased significantly after the intermission. Overall, IWU committed eight fouls in the contest, while the referees called three fouls on Spring Arbor.

In the 68th minute, a deflected ball by IWU goalie Megan Weiss (fr) bounced off of Spring Arbor’s Aubrey Schierbeek (fr) and into the goal to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead and conclude the game’s scoring.

Wildcats Head Coach Tim Strader said he was proud of his players’ effort against a very talented Spring Arbor squad.

“To lose 2-0 against a very high-quality team like Spring Arbor is really good,” Strader said. “The fight [the team] brought was unbelievable.”

As the last home regular-season game of the season, the Wildcats celebrated Senior Night for their seven seniors: Kerrin Clancy, Caitlyn Mains, Tracey Tiernon, Elisa Teller, Haley Svrcina, Megan Hardesty and Jillian Owens.

photo by Becka Roth

photo by Becka Roth

“The seniors have showed a lot of heart and determination for us all year,” Strader said.

With the loss, the Wildcats moved to 3-4-1 in Crossroads League play. They conclude their regular season 3 p.m. Saturday at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

Posted in Sports, Women's AthleticsComments (0)

Follow The Sojourn on Twitter