Tag Archive | "Volleyball"

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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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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