Tag Archive | "Volleyball"

Volleyball takes down rival Taylor


There’s no such thing as an easy win when Indiana Wesleyan University and Taylor University play each other.

This proved true Friday night in Luckey Arena, as the IWU Lady Wildcats volleyball team defeated Taylor three games to one in a hard-fought match from both teams.

Head Coach Candace Moats said matches between IWU and Taylor always have an extra intensity to them.

“It’s always a battle,” Moats said. “I always look forward to this match because the reality of it is is that I know the best game’s going to come out for both teams.”

The Wildcats’ student section battled the sizable Taylor crowd all night, providing an electric atmosphere for the teams. Coach Moats said the team fed off of the crowd’s energy.

“The crowd was our 7th man,” Moats said. “We asked them to come out and to bring that Wildcat pride, and they did not disappoint me.”

Opposite hitter Alijah Mulitauopele (sr) appreciated the support.

“I think … our fans are great,” said Mulitauopele. “We knew it was going to be loud in here, so we were just ready to play as a team.”

The teams battled back and forth the first two games, but the Lady Wildcats prevailed by scores of 25-19 and 25-23.

Down two games to none, Taylor came back with an impressive showing in the third game. The Trojans opened the game on an 8-0 run and controlled the pace en route to a 25-21 win.

Thirteen ties and fourteen lead changes occurred in the fourth game, but the Wildcats prevailed by a final score of 25-23 to take the match.

“I think we matured tonight,” said Moats. “We’re starting to believe in that confidence, we’re starting to believe in each other, we’re starting to bond together, and that’s what’s bringing us to this level.”

“I think that we know how we can play now as a team with that intensity,” said Mulitauopele. “We should just keep doing that and keep playing with high energy.”

Coach Moats said a win against a big rival like Taylor builds momentum for the rest of the season.

“This moment tonight is what brought us together,” said Moats. “Now that’s going to carry us to go into some other matches.”

The Wildcats play home again Saturday against Mt. Vernon.

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Young volleyball team prepares for tournament


This is uncharted territory for the Indiana Wesleyan University volleyball team.

The Wildcats have won 30 or more games in each of the last three seasons under the veteran senior leadership of legendary names like Yui Iwase (alumna ‘12), Kelsey Masuda (alumna ‘11) and Taryn Cocallas (alumna ‘10).

But this season’s roster holds a lot more youth than previous teams, with 11 underclassmen on the 15-player active squad.

Even with the team’s overwhelming lack of experience, IWU ended the regular season tied with senior-laden Bethel College for the Crossroads League title heading into the first round of the conference tournament Tuesday.

Remy Bucknor (fr) stretches above the net for a block against Mt. Vernon.

“With the team that we have, I feel privileged and grateful that we’re tying for co-champions in the conference,” said coach Candace Moats. “I saw the athleticism we had with the young group, but I didn’t quite know if the maturity would get us to that. So the accomplishment today to get there feels like it was all worth it.”

The young Wildcats ended the regular season with a 3-0 victory against Mt. Vernon Nazarene University to clinch a share of the league title and raise IWU’s record to 25-10.

While it would take a winning streak of historic proportions to earn a fourth consecutive 30-win campaign, Moats said she communicated a “nothing to lose” mindset to her team heading into the Crossroads League tournament.

“Let’s get ourselves to a place where we get experience at as high a level as we can so that when next year comes around you’re going to be familiar with this pathway,” Moats said. “Because we’re going to be back on this pathway again.”

The team isn’t solely focused on conditioning for future tournament runs, although Moats added this year’s young players will be “phenomenal” in the coming years. Another goal the 12th-year coach outlined was keeping the seniors on the court as long as possible.

Rae Brandes (sr) leaps high in the air for a kill against Mt. Vernon.

Seniors like Rae Brandes.

The three-time Crossroads League Hitter of the Week and two-time Player of the Week finds herself in a major leadership position this year along with her twin sister Rebecca Brandes (sr) and Kristine Egebrecht (sr). For this group, that means producing on the court in each match.

“The leadership role this year is playing our best every game just because we’re going to be big key players, and we’re working hard to keep the team unity alive,” Rae said.

But Rae also said the transition is easier because of the immense underclassmen talent.

“It’s a testament to how good they truly are even just as freshmen and how much potential they have,” Rae said. “It’s been a little different because now we’re the seniors and it’s a different feeling. It’s big role, but with the underclassmen we have, it’s been good.”

As for the team producing in postseason play, Rae said the Wildcats are just now hitting their stride after snapping a four-game losing skid.

“You hit those dog days and it gets kind of slow for a little bit and I think we just got our energy and passion back full force and it’s a good time for it,” Rae said. “We’re a super athletic team so as long as we go all out the whole time and not make as many errors as the other team I think we’re going to have a lot of success.”

The Wildcats face Mt. Vernon in a rematch to open the Crossroads League Tournament Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Luckey Arena.

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Women’s volleyball bounces back strong


Twelve sets in a row. The Indiana Wesleyan University women’s volleyball team has dominated the past four Crossroads League games by not losing for almost two weeks.

Sept. 13 marks the last loss the Wildcats team had. In that game, they played at home against the Bethel College Pilots, and lost in three straight sets.

Since then, the team defeated Goshen College, Huntington University, Marian College and Grace College.

Head coach Candice Moats said the game against Bethel allowed the team to identify how they still need to improve. Prior to that match, the team won four Crossroads games in a row, and 12 sets just like the streak they are on now.

Even though they had that previous stretch of games, Moats said the offense still needed to improve even more to get past the loss.

“Sometimes you can just cruise through, and then all of a sudden something happens that makes you stop, and you go, ‘how did that happen?’” Moats said. “And then you start looking deeper at things, and evaluating things better.”

Outside hitter Kristin Predajna (so) said after the Bethel loss, the seniors on the team pointed out that they needed more energy and communication.

“We were playing kind of individually instead of playing as a group together,” Predajna said. “So we worked on each game for more maturing and to cheer for everyone else, and not become selfish or consumed with our own play, but play for the team.”

In addition, Moats said the coaches decided to control the offense a little more on the sidelines, especially having a young and new setter this year — Katey Holler (so) — who Moats said needs to learn not only her own techniques, but those of all the other hitters on the team.

Holler took over for All-American setter Yui Iwase (alumna ‘13) this year after only playing a little last season in the back row of the court.

After the Sept. 18 victory against Huntington University, Holler said she and the coaches focused on her setting in practice for just one day. Through that and the next two games, Holler won the setter of the week for the Crossroads League.

“I was really shocked about it,” Holler said of her accolade. “But it meant a lot because it showed me that hard work does pay off if you do come in and put in the work.”

In addition to Holler, outside hitter Rae Brandes (sr) was selected Crossroads League player of the week.

From Sept. 27-28, the team plays in the Judson/Robert Morris Tournament in Elgin and Chicago, Ill. Moats said these tournaments are usually more challenging than normal Crossroads League games.

“We generally go to those tournaments with the expectation that we’re going to be playing a little bit over our heads with some of the teams there,” Moats said.

The Wildcats play against Columbia College and Judson University Sept. 27, and then Trinity Christian University and Robert Morris University Sept. 28.

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Wildcats dominate in Crossroads opener


The Indiana Wesleyan University Wildcats volleyball team looks to continue its dominance over the rest of the Crossroads League during the 2013-14 season. Heading into Wednesday night’s league home opener, the Wildcats had tallied a 33-3 record versus conference opponents since 2010.

Make it 34-3.

Kristine Egebrecht (sr) had 13 kills as IWU shook off some early rust to stymie Spring Arbor University in straight sets, 25-12, 25-13, 25-22.

The Wildcats and Cougars played a close first set to start, battling to a 7-7 tie. But IWU took over from there, going on an 11-2 run highlighted by back-to-back emphatic kills by Kristin Predajna (so), leading to an eventual 25-12 victory.

Egebrecht stepped up in the second, leading the Wildcats as they raced out to a 6-0 lead that turned into a 25-13 set win. IWU took care of business in the third, holding off a late Spring Arbor run to close out the match with a 25-22 win.

“As we keep going through our season you can tell we have a lot of young people,” coach Candace Moats said of her team. “We’re learning and getting better; some of the improvements showed up tonight.”

Rae Brandes (sr) contributed to the cause with eight kills on the night, with Predajna posting six. Remy Bucknor (fr) had four kills of her own as IWU won its fourth straight.

The Wildcats (6-3, 1-0) take on rival Taylor University this Friday at 6 p.m. in Luckey Arena.

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