Tag Archive | "Volleyball"

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 Dec. 1, she ranked fourth on the team with 271 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.”


This story is a part of Co-Editor-in-Chief Jared Johnson’s “Stars in the Background” series on overlooked stars in IWU athletics. For more information, click here.

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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.

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Coach Moats focuses on players, not 700th win

Without even realizing it, Wildcats Head Volleyball Coach Candace Moats brought home her 700th career win Oct. 7 against Mt. Vernon Nazarene University.

In previous years, her assistant coaches kept track of her record, but this year she had no idea the game was a landmark win.

“I came to the office later that day and someone tells me congratulations for 700, and I said, ‘700 what?’” Moats said.

Kelly Cypher (jr) said Moats is more focused on her players than she is her own record.

“She isn’t just about the wins we get or the stats of the game,” Cypher said. “What she wants more than anything, is to be invested in each one of us as her players to help us grow as a person in our character and our walk with the Lord.”

Photo taken by Jared Johnson

Photo taken by Jared Johnson

At her first college, the University of Nebraska, she struggled to find her own identity outside of volleyball. She transferred to Crown College, a Christian college, and carries that experience over to coaching and supporting her players.

“I just try to live as a woman of God would live in front of the girls that he gives me to mentor and in some ways be accountable for,” Moats said.

“She really wants to know who we are outside of volleyball,” Cypher said. “As we go through the volleyball season, she reminds us of the bigger picture of why we play: ‘For Him.’”

Moats had not planned to go into coaching. She was prepared to go into elementary education, but, as she states, that was not God’s plan for her. She helped coach her final semester at Crown since she was ineligible as a transfer student. When the head coaching position opened up after that semester, the current head coach recommended her for the job.

After 10 years coaching at Crown, she felt God “nudging” her to go. After attending Crown herself, she had built a strong support system of family and mentors, which made leaving difficult.

“I didn’t really want to [leave] because I was very comfortable there,” Moats said. “Through a lot of fasting and praying over a course of time God made it very clear that I was supposed to go.”

Moats said God provided her with a specific Bible passage, Genesis 12, to strengthen her during this time of decision-making.

“He’s talking to Abraham and says, ‘I want you to go to the land that I will show you and I will make your name great and I will bless you,’” Moats said.

Moats said she sees that blessing all around her, even now at Indiana Wesleyan University.

“I look back at the years and, even this year, we have squeaked by so many matches that could have put us in a situation and we wouldn’t be where we are,” Moats said. “But again, there is this blessing that just seems to be there and I am so grateful for that.”

Photo taken by Jared Johnson

Photo taken by Jared Johnson

Moats spent 8 years coaching at Grace College before being called to IWU, where she has been for the past 13 years. She tries to focus on growth and bringing new ideas to the team rather than how many more years she will coach.

“I’m just trying to enjoy this more and more every year instead of fighting it,” Moats said.

Moats said her assistant coaches, players and even other teams give her new ideas and coaching strategies.

“Every year I’m thinking differently,” Moats said. She doesn’t want the team to feel like a “dictatorship.” Instead, she tries to build community through teamwork and collaboration.

Student manager Cindy Coats (sr) said she has enjoyed learning from Coach Moats.

“[It] has been such an honor because she is always so humble as a coach,” Coats said. “She always gives glory to God and praises her team.”

Moats said the relationships she has built over the years have “impacted” her, “shaped” her and made her different.

“The highlight for me is all that I’ve learned by being in relationship with all of the women that I’ve been able to be a part of their lives,” Moats said.

Moats said she hopes IWU will be one of the final schools she works at before retirement. She credits the strength and vision of the Athletic Department with the joy she receives from working at IWU.

“God’s created this opportunity, this career, this calling for me and I need to be faithful in it till the end,” Moats said.

Coach Moats Timeline

A timeline of Coach Moats’ career from Crown College to win number 700.

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Volleyball plays everyone in victory over Spring Arbor

Katey Holler (jr) prepares herself for a powerful serve // Photo taken by Jared Johnson

Katey Holler (jr) prepares herself for a powerful serve // Photo taken by Jared Johnson

The Indiana Wesleyan University women’s volleyball team used a balanced attack to defeat Spring Arbor University in straight sets (25-12, 25-13, 25-20) Wednesday, Oct. 15.

In a battle between IWU, the Crossroads League’s No. 1 team (11-1 in league play), and Spring Arbor, and the last-place team in the league (0-13), Wildcats Head Coach Candace Moats made sure all 15 of her players got in the game.

“I really wanted to generate some encouragement for some of the players that don’t get much playing time,” Moats said.

Leading the offensive attack for the Wildcats were Kylie Portera (so) and Alijah Mulitauopele (sr) with seven and six kills, respectively. Katey Holler (jr) set up her spikers to the tune of 28 set assists and Ashlen Buck (so) added 11 digs for IWU. Every Wildcat player registered at least one kill, set assist or dig.

But the game wasn’t all positive for the Wildcats. Moats still hopes to see her players take more initiative going after the ball.

Remy Bucknor (so) unleashes a spike on Spring Arbor // Photo taken by Jared Johnson

Remy Bucknor (so) unleashes a spike on Spring Arbor // Photo taken by Jared Johnson

“There’s still timidity there,” Moats said. “There’s not a lot of directing traffic.”

Moats was happy, however, with how the Wildcats were able to stay focused despite playing a less-talented team.

“We wanted to keep up the passion and energy, and I think we did that,” Moats said. “This weekend we are playing some teams that will play their best matches of the season against us, so we really have to be on our guard.”

The Wildcats host Bethel College at 7 p.m. Friday and Goshen College at 3 p.m. Saturday this weekend in Crossroads League play.

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