Grace Spikers Receive Postseason Honors


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – After a remarkable turnaround for the Grace College volleyball team in 2010, four Lady Lancers were honored by the Mid-Central College Conference and the NCCAA.

Headlining the awards were junior Enrica Verrett and freshman Dana Johnston, who were both named to the All-Conference First Team and the All-NCCAA Midwest Region Team. Verrett, an outside hitter, was also named an NCCAA Second Team All-American after leading Grace with 357 kills on the season. She also recorded 16 solo blocks and 54 block assists.

Johnston, a middle hitter, made an immediate impact in her first season with 318 kills (second on the team) on a .309 kill percentage, which was tops in the MCC. She was also a standout defensively with 19 solo blocks and 72 block assists. Johnston was named to the MCC All-Freshman Team, as well.

Grace also placed a pair of players on the All-Conference Second Team in juniors Rachel Bult and Stephanie Lawson. Bult led a dynamic attack this year as a setter, destroying her previous career high in assists with 1,289 on the season. At season’s end, she ranked No. 22 in the NAIA in total assists. Bult was named to the All-NCCAA Midwest Region Team Honorable Mention.

Lawson, an outside hitter, was third on the team with 293 kills and first with 59 service aces. She ranked first in the conference in aces and No. 22 in the nation in aces per game. Both Lawson and Bult received NCCAA Scholar-Athlete recognition, as did junior Bethany Michalski.

The Lady Lancers finished the regular season 16-14 and 9-7 in the MCC. After finishing eighth in the MCC in 2009, Grace placed third in the conference this year and advanced to the semifinals of the MCC tournament.

Season Ends at NCCAA Regionals


CEDARVILLE, OHIO – Grace’s season ended abruptly at the NCCAA Regionals on Friday, ending their hopes of a national tournament appearance in Kissimmee, Fla.

The Lady Lancers (17-17), seeded third, needed to finish in the top two of their three-team pool to advance into Saturday, but lost to No. 6 Cedarville in their first match and No. 2 Spring Arbor in their second match.

“It was a frustrating way to end the season,” said head coach Andria Harshman. “I didn’t feel like we played to our potential today, but overall, this season was a good foundation and stepping stone for the future of this program.”

Grace was upset by the Yellow Jackets (18-19) in five sets, dropping the first game 25-21, the third set 25-23 and the tiebreaker 15-7. The Lady Lancers won the second game 25-23 and the fourth game 25-22.
Stephanie Lawson had a match-high and season-high 17 kills with a .308 kill percentage, but it wasn’t enough to get the job done.

Dana Johnston and Enrica Verrett tallied 11 kills apiece, Rachel Bult had 45 assists, Missy Cooper totaled 13 digs, and Bethany Whitcraft had 12 digs. Stefanie Bolt had three solo blocks and five block assists. Verrett had three solo blocks.

After Grace’s loss to Cedarville, they faced a do or die situation against No. 2 Spring Arbor later in the day. Despite splitting with the Lady Cougars (18-15) in the regular season, Grace struggled and fell in straight sets 25-18, 25-9 and 25-19 to end their hopes of a postseason run.

Grace had 27 errors and 27 kills to Spring Arbor’s 35 kills and eight errors. Lawson led Grace with 10 kills and a .273 kill percentage.

The two losses end Grace’s season after they posted a  solid16-14 regular season record and 9-7 conference record. The Lady Lancers finished third in the MCC, their first conference record above .500 in four years and best conference finish since 2001. 

Grace Slips in Semifinals to IWU


MARION, Ind. -- Grace's conference success came to an end on Thursday evening.

The Lady Lancers (17-15) fell to No. 2 seed Indiana Wesleyan in the semifinals of the MCC tournament. The Lady Wildcats (23-10) defeated Grace in straight sets 25-22, 25-17 and 25-23, their third sweep over Grace this season.

"It's a difficult loss to swallow," said head coach Andria Harshman. "But we will move on, make some adjustments and begin focusing on the NCCAA's."

Grace jumped to an early lead in the first set, but a series of defensive errors helped IWU get back in the game and pull off the 25-22 victory.

In the second set, IWU outplayed the Lady lancers from the get-go to solidify a 25-17 win. Grace tallied seven attack errors in each of the first two sets and had a .179 percentage in the first game and a .074 percentage in the second.

IWU pulled away from Grace at the end of the third set, but a late Lady Lancer comeback almost pushed the match into extra points.

Enrica Verrett had another exemplary performance, tallying a match-high 12 kills, a .478 kill percentage and only one error.

Rachel Bult totaled a match-high 33 assists, and Missy Cooper had two service aces. Defensively, Missy Cooper, Bult, and Arielle Walters had seven digs apiece.

The loss terminates Grace's hopes of their first conference championship since 2001 and an NAIA national appearance. Now, Grace shifts their focus to the NCCAA regional qualifier that could earn them a berth at the NCCAA national tournament in Kissimmee, Fla.

Cedarville University will host the regional tournament beginning on Nov. 20.

Lady Lancers Pick Up Dominant First Round Victory


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- After splitting with Goshen in the regular season, most expected Grace's first round tournament game against the Maple Leafs (18-15) to be a competitive match-up.

Grace, however, rose to the occasion and dominated the Maple Leafs in straight sets, 25-13, 25-23 and 25-17. The win was Grace's first victory in the opening round of the MCC tournament since 2005 when they defeated Spring Arbor 3-1.

"We played well, and we executed our game plan," said head coach Andria Harshman. "That's a really solid postseason game for us, and I think we will be a really good postseason team."

The Lady Lancers (17-14) passed well and owned the middle, totaling an impressive .343 team kill percentage compared to Goshen's .176 percentage. Grace had less than four errors and a kill percentage above .300 in all three sets.

"If we pass well against that team, we expose their weakness," Harshman continued. "We didn't pass well the first two times we played them. We changed what we needed to do to beat that team."

Dana Johnston tallied a match-high 14 kills and a .565 percentage on only one error. Enrica Verrett had 12 kills with no errors for an even better .632 percentage. In Grace's effort to attack in the middle, the Lady Lancer outside hitters only tallied 11 kills combined.

Rachel Bult had a match-high 39 assists, Arielle Walters led with 12 digs, and Bethany Whitcraft totaled 11 digs, respectively. Johnston also added two solo blocks.

Before their loss, Goshen had won seven of their last eight matches.

Grace will meet the No. 2 seed Lady Wildcats of Indiana Wesleyan in Marion, Ind., on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the MCC Tournament semifinals. IWU handled Grace in the regular season, beating them in straight sets on Sept. 29 and Oct. 22.

The Lady Lancers are having their best conference performance since their second-place finish in 2001, when Harshman was a senior at Grace.

Grace Tops Bethel, Jumps to Third in MCC


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- After finishing eighth in the MCC a year ago, Grace clinched a third-place seed in the MCC tournament with a big 3-1 victory over conference rival Bethel College on Wednesday.

Entering the game, Grace was sitting in fifth place and needed a victory to host a first-round game in the MCC tournament as a fourth seed. Grace's win combined with Marian's loss to Indiana Wesleyan on the same night propelled Grace into third place, their best finish in the conference since their second-place finish in 2001, when head coach Andria Harshman graduated from Grace. It also secured Grace's first conference record above .500 in four seasons.

"One of our preseason goals was to host a conference tournament match," Harshman said. "We have an opportunity to do that and a chance to keep hosting. Last year, we had to travel to Spring Arbor and get a win just to make it into the tournament, so it's fun to see our women rise to the occasion."

The Lady Lancers (16-14; 9-7 MCC) dropped the first set 25-19 but won the next three sets 25-23, 25-21 and 25-23 to complete their season sweep over the Lady Pilots (20-17; 5-11 MCC).

Bethel had a chance to run away with the match in the second game when they held a demanding 17-12 lead over Grace. The Lady Lancers, however, sparked a 13-5 run to close out the match and evened the series 1-1. In the third set, Grace built a comfortable lead in the middle of the match and held on for the victory. They finished off the Lady Pilots in a neck-and-neck fourth set.

"The girls got a huge win under pressure tonight," Harshman continued. "We played a solid fourth game, and our blocking really stood out in the last three sets."

Stefanie Bolt had a match-high two solo blocks and four block assists. Stephanie Lawson and Arielle Walters totaled 13 kills apiece, and Enrica Verrett added 12.

Rachel Bult tallied 48 assists, and Bethany Whitcraft had a match-high 18 digs. Lawson also recorded 16 digs.

Grace will host Goshen College in the first round of the MCC tournament next Tuesday. The game time has not yet been determined. Listen to the radio broadcast of the game here.

The Lady Lancers split with Goshen during the regular season, losing 3-1 on the road on Oct. 5 and beating them in five sets at home on Oct. 9.

Lady Lancers Sweep Knights


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The Lady Lancers were on a mission Wednesday night. Grace's volleyball team snapped Marian University's eight-game winning streak with a 3-0 sweep on Wednesday.

The match was all-square at 16 apiece when the Lady Lancers (15-14; 8-7 MCC) went on 9-3 run to close out an opening set victory. The women took that momentum into the second set by jumping out to an early 9-1 lead sparked by four kills from Enrica Verrett. The Lady Lancers never trailed in set two on their way to a 25-16 win over the Lady Knights (14-15; 9-6 MCC).

The third set was a back-and-forth battle that consisted of 13 ties and 14 lead changes. The Lady Lancers were up to the challenge as they closed out the match on a 5-2 run capped off by a stuff block from Dana Johnston and Rachel Bult to seal the victory.  

“We know what we are playing for these final matches,” said head coach Andria Harshman. “We needed a win tonight, and we needed to pressure them with an up-tempo offense.”

Grace’s balanced attack was led by Arielle Walters with 12 kills. Stefanie Bolt connected for nine kills and an impressive .600 attack percentage. Rachel Bult initiated an up-tempo offense as she tallied 40 assists on the night. Defensively, Stephanie Lawson and Arielle Walters recorded 15 digs apiece.

“Rachel executed our game plan very well and got the set where it needed to be,” Harshman added. “We are coming on strong here at the end of the season. It is encouraging as we head into the conference tournament.”

Grace will finish up regular season play in front of their home crowd on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Bethel College.

Taylor Beats Grace in Four


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Grace earned a win in the second set against No. 11 Taylor to even the series but dropped their next two sets in their 3-1 loss on Saturday.

The Lady Lancers (14-14; 7-7 MCC) won 25-23 in the second set, but lost 25-18 in the first, 25-18 in the third and 25-14 in the fourth. Grace has earned a point in both of their outings against the Lady Trojans (25-5; 13-0 MCC) but hasn't been able to get more than that.

Stephanie Lawson and Enrica Verrett tallied nine kills apiece, but Grace had a rocky .055 attack percentage overall. Rachel Bult totaled 36 assists, and Arielle Walters and Hilary Barnett had two service aces each.

Missy Cooper played well for Grace, tallying a match-high 18 digs. Walters had 16, Bethany Whitcraft added 14, Barnett had 13 and Rachel Bult tallied 10.

Taylor remains undefeated in the MCC. Grace needs victories against Marian University on Wednesday and Bethel on Nov. 3 to have a shot at hosting a first round game in the MCC tournament. They are currently fifth in the MCC standings. Match time against Marian is scheduled for 7 p.m. when the Lady Lancers travel to Indianapolis.

IWU Handles Grace


MARION, Ind. -- Grace fell to Indiana Wesleyan University in straight sets on Friday.

After losing to the Lady Wildcats (15-8; 9-3 MCC) 3-0 on Sept. 29, Grace was hoping to earn a big win in their rematch against a team that is receiving votes in the latest NAIA poll. IWU, however, showed why they are the second best team in the conference and held Grace to 14 points in the first set, 20 in the second and only 13 in the third.

The Lady Lancers (14-13; 7-6 MCC) had a .196 team kill percentage with 14 errors to Indiana Wesleyan's .389 percentage. Grace was led by Stephanie Lawson, who tallied 10 kills. Dana Johnston had nine kills on a remarkable .818 kill percentage.

Rachel Bult totaled 26 assists, and Bethany Whitcraft had a match-high 13 digs.

IWU has won eight of their last nine matches. Grace has won four of their last six.

Grace's difficult closing to the MCC season continues when they take the floor against No. 11 Taylor tomorrow at the Orthopaedic Capital Center. Match time is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Manchester No Match for Grace


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Grace's volleyball team continued its winning ways with a 3-0 win against Manchester College on Tuesday, Grace's fourth win in their last five matches.

The visiting Spartans (8-17) didn't score more than 17 points on the evening, falling to Grace 25-16 in the first set, 25-15 in the second and 25-17 in the third. The Lady Lancers (14-12) put together a .471 attack percentage to Manchester's .185 to run away with the win.

"It was good to get a win tonight and build some confidence as we enter the final stretch of our season," said head coach Andria Harshman. "Hopefully this will give us a boost and help us close out the conference season strong."

Stephanie Lawson tallied nine kills with a .563 kill percentage, and Dana Johnston had nine kills with a .353 percentage.

Rachel Bult totaled 32 assists, and Hilary Barnett had a match-high 10 digs. Bethany Whitcraft added eight digs.

The match was Grace's final non-conference outing of the year. They have four matches remaining and will next take the floor at Indiana Wesleyan on Friday at 7 p.m. The Lady Wildcats beat Grace in straight sets on September 29 and are currently receiving votes in the latest NAIA poll.

Lady Lancers Avenge Loss, Defeat Spring Arbor


SPRING ARBOR, Mich. -- After barely dropping a match earlier in the month to Spring Arbor, Grace's volleyball team found revenge with a 3-2 win of their own on Thursday.

The Lady Lancers (13-12; 7-5 MCC) moved into fourth place in the conference with the victory, just one game behind the Lady Cougars (10-10; 8-4 MCC).

Grace grabbed the lead in the match by winning the first and third sets but allowed Spring Arbor to tie it back up with wins in the second and fourth sets. Grace's third-set win was particularly impressive. The Lady Lancer attack amassed 19 kills with only four attack errors to pull out a 28-26 victory.

In the do-or-die game five, Grace showed its will to win. With the score knotted at 12, the Lady Lancers closed out the game on a 3-0 run completed by a service ace by Stephanie Lawson to clinch the victory.

"Our ladies played with real heart tonight," said head coach Andria Harshman. "In front of a crowd, they found a way to win and didn't back down. This was a complete team effort -- everyone played their part."

Junior setter Rachel Bult continued her impressive campaign with another 50-plus assist night, this time setting her career high with 58. She has reached 50 assists six times this year, including three of her last five matches.

Bult's attack yielded a season-high 70 kills, which is the highest total in Harshman's three years at Grace. The offense was highlighted by Lawson with 16 kills to tie her season-best. Enrica Verrett (15 kills) and Dana Johnston (14 kills) each performed offensively, and Stefanie Bolt recorded a career-high 13 kills to go along with a solo block and a block assist.

Bethany Whitcraft led all players with 19 digs, and Arielle Walters had eight kills and 12 digs.

The Lady Lancers return to the court Tuesday as they welcome Manchester College to the Orthopaedic Capital Center at 7 p.m.

Sloppy Play Dooms Grace against No. 8 Taylor


UPLAND, Ind. -- Grace's volleyball team surprised No. 8 Taylor by winning their first game. But the Lady Lancers (12-12; 6-5 MCC) were not able to complete one of the biggest upsets of the season and fell 3-1.

The Lady Lancers made a big statement in the opening set by winning 25-20. Grace had its best attacking performance of the day with 15 kills and only five attack errors. But the Lady Trojans (23-2; 11-0 MCC) proved why they are one of the top teams in the nation by dominating the last three sets by scores of 25-9, 25-11, and 25-19.

"We started this match off with intensity and drive," said head coach Andria Harshman, "but we just couldn't finish like that. We have to figure out how to maintain our focus and purpose against teams like this."

Grace's attack lost its edge after the opening set as they produced more attack errors (23) than kills (22) in the final three sets. The Lady Lancers gave up 28 points on attack errors altogether in the match to go along with five service errors.

Enrica Verrett led Grace's offense with 10 kills, and Dana Johnston also delivered a solid performance with nine kills and four block assists. Grace recorded 10 block assists as a team.

Rachel Bult had 32 assists, and Stephanie Lawson recorded seven kills and a pair of service aces. Bethany Whitcraft led the team with 12 digs.

"I am by no means satisfied with this loss," Harshman continued. "We are making progress, but there is much room for improvement which is the positive part."

The Lady Lancers return to the court on Thursday as they travel to take on Spring Arbor at 7 p.m.

Grace Sparks Huge Comeback, Defeats Goshen


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- After blowing a 23-21 lead in the first game and a 23-17 lead in the second game, it looked like Grace was done for.

The Lady Lancers (12-11; 6-4 MCC), however, put together three clutch wins to take down the visiting Maple Leafs (11-11; 5-7 MCC) on Saturday afternoon. The win was Grace's first comeback victory from an 0-2 deficit in four years and head coach Andria Harshman's first victory over Goshen during her time at Grace.

"I'm just really proud of the girls coming back, especially in game four," Harshman said. "We've struggled with pressure points this year, but today they rose to the occasion and finished the game. They just really stepped up today."

Grace responded after dropping the first two games with a 25-19 victory in the third set. In the fourth set, Enrica Verrett had several big kills to finish off the Maple Leafs 29-27. And in the deciding game, Grace dominated from the get-go and put together four straight points to take a 10-6 lead and held on for the victory.

"Being down 0-2 is a huge deal, especially with our young lineup," Harshman continued. "We just rose to the occasion and handled it. This was a great victory today."

Verrett, an Elkhart Central graduate, had a career-high 22 kills, and Rachel Bult tied a career-high with 57 assists. Verrett also had a match-high .356 kill percentage. Three other Lancers also tallied double-digit kills: Dana Johnson (16), Stefanie Bolt (12) and Arielle Watlers (10).

Stephanie Lawson, who ranks No. 10 in the NAIA in service aces per game, continued the trend and tallied four against Goshen. Five Lady Lancers also had double-digit digs: Bethany Whitcraft (23), Lawson (21), Hilary Barnett (15), Arielle Walters (13) and Bult (10).

Grace will try to improve on their two-game winning streak when they travel to No. 9 Taylor on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. start.

Grace Tops Foresters


HUNTINGTON, Ind. -- Grace's volleyball team dropped their first game against Huntington but rebounded to take the next three to win 3-1 on Friday.

Despite recording 13 kills and only three attack errors, the Lady Lancers (11-11; 5-4 MCC) lost 25-22 in game one. Grace responded by dominating the next three games, holding the Lady Foresters (2-22; 0-11 MCC) to no more than 17 points the rest of the match.

"It's definitely a good sign to see the women react the way they did tonight," said head coach Andria Harshman. "There are still things we can improve upon, and we'll be ready to take on Goshen tomorrow."

Enrica Verrett had a stellar offensive day, tallying 18 kills in 25 attack attempts for a .600 kill percentage.Dana Johnston and Arielle Walters also chipped in with 11 kills and 8 kills respectively. Walters also had a team-high 11 digs, and Rachel Bult continued her career-best season with 46 assists and nine digs.

The Lady Lancers return to action on Saturday to take on Goshen College as part of Grace's Red & White Day. Match time is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Career Highs Squandered in Loss to Goshen


GOSHEN, Ind. -- In a back-and-forth match against Goshen College, Grace's volleyball team fell 3-1 despite career highs by Rachel Bult and Dana Johnston.

Bult recorded 57 assists to spark a lethal Grace attack. The Lady Lancers (10-11; 4-4 MCC) pounded out 61 kills compared to 49 for Goshen. Johnston led all players with 19 kills and only one error for an impressive .462-kill percentage. Her attacking performance tied her career high, which was set in August.

After the Lady Lancers lost a tough first game 28-26, they came out flat in game two to lose 25-18 to the Lady Maple Leafs (11-9; 5-5 MCC). Grace dominated in the third game to take a quick 25-15 victory before slipping 25-23 in the final set.

"Going down by two games put us in a really tough spot," said head coach Andria Harshman. "It was unfortunate because we played well for the most part tonight."

Enrica Verrett also had a standout performance with 18 kills on a .419-kill percentage, which was one kill off her season high. Stephanie Lawson also recorded double-digit kills with 13 to go along with 15 digs.

The Lady Lancers return to action Friday at Huntington University. The opening serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Lady Lancers Get Big Win on the Road


MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Grace was too much for the Lady Pilots of Bethel College on Saturday.

The Lady Lancers (10-10; 4-3 MCC) defeated Bethel in straights sets 25-20, 25-15, and 26-24, head coach Andria Harshman's first victory over the Lady Pilots (14-8; 5-4 MCC) during her three years at Grace.

"We came out strong from the first point and really pulled Bethel out of their system," Harshman said. "We passed well and executed the ball the entire match and literally just wore the Pilots down."

Rachel Bult tallied 31 assists in three sets, and Enrica Verrett had a match-high 13 kills with a .458 kill percentage. Bethany Whitcraft added nine digs while Stephanie Lawson and Arielle Walters had eight apiece.

Before today's match, Grace hadn't won a set against Bethel since their last victory over the Lady Pilots on Sept. 2, 2006. The win also snaps Grace's three-game losing streak.

"I am really proud of our team and bouncing back from a tough loss last night against Spring Arbor," Harshman continued. "We controlled the match well."

The Lady Lancers return to action at Huntington University next Friday at 7 p.m.

Grace Falls in Five Sets


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Grace's volleyball team gave one of the top teams in the conference, Spring Arbor University, a scare on Friday.

Trailing 2-1 in the series and 24-21 in a pivotal fourth set, the Lady Lancers (9-10; 3-3 MCC) strung together five straight points to force a game five. The nationally recognized Lady Cougars (9-7; 7-1 MCC), however, who are receiving votes in the latest NAIA poll, jumped to an early 5-1 advantage in the fifth set and held on for the 15-13 victory to kill Grace's hopes. 

"Throughout the match, we didn't give up," said head coach Andria Harshman. "That comeback in the fourth game was huge. It really speaks volumes about how confident and mentally tough our women have become. It was a frustrating loss, but we got beat by a very talented Spring Arbor team tonight."

Rachel Bult tallied 44 assists and helped three Lady Lancers tally double-figure kills. Enrica Verrett and Dana Johnston had 16 kills apiece while Stephanie Lawson added 15. Johnston led Grace with a solid .519 kill-percentage. Grace also had four players earn double-figure digs: Lawson (17), Arielle Walters (14), Rachel Bult (14) and Bethany Whitcraft (13). Stefanie Bolt had a match-high three blocks.

"I'm proud of how we played tonight," Harshman continued. "Our girls played with heart and fought through dry spells. We aren't content with a moral victory, however. Spring Arbor is one of the top teams in the MCC, but we feel like we should have pulled off this win."

The first game was neck-and-neck, but Spring Arbor pulled off a 25-23 win. In the second game, Lawson had two momentous back-to-back service aces in the middle of the set that helped springboard the Lady Lancers to a 25-18 win. After trailing 15-10 at the start of the third set, Spring Arbor made a slow comeback and pulled off another clutch 26-24 win.

Grace has dropped their last three conference matches after winning their first three.

They will try to get back on the winning trail when they travel to Mishawaka to take on Bethel College on Saturday at 12 p.m.

IWU Too Much for Grace


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – The Grace women's volleyball team fell to Indiana Wesleyan in straight sets on Wednesday, their second straight loss in conference play after winning their first three.

The Lady Lancers (9-8; 3-1 MCC) jumped to a 9-3 lead at the start of the first game, but yielded a 15-2 Indiana Wesleyan spurt to drop the match 25-18.

In the second game, Grace was neck-and-neck with the Lady Wildcats (8-7; 3-3 MCC) and held a 22-20 advantage at the end of the game. IWU, however, sparked a comeback at the end and pulled off the 28-26 victory. The Lady Wildcats closed off the match with a 25-14 win in game three.

"We won't spend much time dwelling on this match," said head coach Andria Harshman. "We need to work in several areas in practice tomorrow before we take on Spring Arbor on Friday."

Enrica Verrett led Grace with seven kills, and  Bethany Whitcraft had a game-high 14 digs. Grace had 15 attack errors and nine service errors in the match.

Grace will try to get back on the winning trail against Spring Arbor University on Friday at 7 p.m.

Saint Francis Bests Grace in Rematch


FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Ten days after beating Saint Francis 3-2, Grace's volleyball team fell in three sets to the Lady Cougars (3-6; 1-5 MCC) on Saturday.

The Lady Lancers (9-8; 3-1 MCC) made it competitive in both of the first two games, falling 25-22 and 25-23 before only scoring 18 in the deciding set.

"It's always difficult to beat a team twice that soon after playing them recently," said head coach Andria Harshman. "We will work on some things in practice and be ready for action next week."

Junior Stephanie Lawson recorded a game-high nine kills, and freshman Dana Johnston had seven kills on a .400 attack percentage to go along with five block assists.

Arielle Walters had a good all-around performance with six kills, a game-high 13 digs, and two blocks and three block assists. Rachel Bult also amassed a game-high 31 assists.

Grace hurt themselves with nine service errors and seven receiving errors.

The Lady Lancers return to action Wednesday when they take on Indiana Wesleyan at home. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Grace Wins for Kastner


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace played inspired on Friday.

Playing one week after the tragedy that took the life of freshman teammate Mallori Kastner, the Lady Lancers (9-7; 3-0 MCC) continued their undefeated season in conference play, defeating Huntington University in straight sets.

"We played with a sense of purpose and a spirit of unity tonight," said head coach Andria Harshman. "This team demonstrated to friends, fans, and family in this community that there is something bigger than playing a sport. They showed love and hope to those that were watching."

The student body and community packed out the OCC in support of the volleyball team, wearing orange, Kastner's favorite color, in support of her family and friends.

"The energy that the crowd brought was incredible," Harshman continued. "We want to thank them for their overwhelming support. It meant a lot."

With 13 matches remaining in the season, Grace has already tallied three MCC wins and nine total victories. In 2009, they had two conference wins and nine total victories.

Grace defeated the Lady Foresters (2-16; 0-5 MCC) 25-8 in the first set, 25-17 in the second with a .556 team kill percentage and 25-10 in the third with a .516 percentage. Stephanie Lawson led the match with 13 kills and a .579 percentage while Stefanie Bolt had three kills and a stellar .667 percentage.

Rachel Bult tallied 26 assists, and Bethany Whitcraft had nine digs.

"We are moving in the right direction," Harshman continued. "Tonight, we were playing point for point. We didn't drop our energy level or intensity throughout the entire match."

The Grace Athletic Department sold wristbands for $5 at the game to raise money for families of Kastner and Jeremy Mohr, who were affected by the tragedy. To order a wristband, call Grace's athletic office at 574-372-5100 ext. 6266.

Grace will travel to Fort Wayne to face the University of Saint Francis tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Additional postgame quotes from Andria Harshman:

"In times of trials, we are going to still persevere. Trials and tribulations build character. I believe that tonight this team gave those in this lost and hurting world hope -- hope that we too shall share one day in the eternity that God has promised us. God is still going to be honored with this circumstance and through this team this season even though we are mourning the loss of a loved one."

Grace Gets Second Conference Win


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace defeated the University of Saint Francis in five sets to earn their second straight conference win on Wednesday.

The Lady Lancers (8-7; 2-2 MCC) came back in the fourth game after trailing 19-13 and took a 22-20 lead. It looked as if they'd be able to take the match in four sets, but the Lady Cougars (2-5; 0-4 MCC) went on a 5-1 run to force a fifth set. Grace's momentum, however, carried over into the fifth game, and Grace killed USF 15-6 to get the victory.

"Even though we lost the fourth game, we were able to build momentum that carried off into the fifth," said head coach Andria Harshman in a post-game radio interview. "I'm very proud of our outside hitters in the fifth game. Stephanie Lawson and Mallori Kastner did a great job for us."

Grace won the first game 25-18, lost the second set 25-20 and won the third game 25-17. Rachel Bult led the match with 46 assists and helped three Lady Lancers reach double-figures in kills. Lawson led the match with 16 kills, Dana Johnston and Enrica Verrett totaled 10 apiece and Stefanie Bolt tallied eight. Lawson also had 20 digs, and Bethany Whitcraft tallied 14.

After losing five straight matches, the Lady Lancers have now won two in a row. They hope to continue their streak at the Manchester Tournament on Saturday and Sunday. They play Franklin College at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Millikin University at 6 p.m.

Bult's Career Day Leads to Conference Win


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Rachel Bult had a career-high 56 assists in Grace's 3-1 victory against Marian University on Saturday.

Bult, who ranks No. 2 in the NAIA in total assists (515), helped Stephanie Lawson, Arielle Walters, Dana Johnston and Enrica Verrett  all attain double-figures in kills.

"She executed our offense very well for us," said head coach Andria Harshman. "She is distributing the ball very well and at the right times. We just played as a team. We have a lot of work to do, but today was a solid performance."

Lawson and Walters had 16 kills apiece, Johnston tallied 14, and Verrett added 10. Johnston led the Lady Lancers (7-7; 1-0 MCC) with a .481 kill percentage.

"The passing was definitely better this game than the past previous games," Bult said in a post-game radio interview. "Both of our middles were on fire, and everyone was clicking on the hits."

Every set came down to the wire, being decided by three points or less in each game.  Grace sparked a clutch 3-0 run to defeat the Lady Knights (1-8; 1-2 MCC) 26-24 in the first set, then gave up a 16-10 lead in the second set to fall 31-29. Grace finished the match with a 25-23 win in set three and a 25-22 victory in the fourth set.

The Lady Lancers also had four players with double-digit digs: Bethany Whitcraft tallied 20, Bult and Walters added 13 apiece, and Hilary Barnett totaled 11. Stefanie Bolt had a match-high six block assists.

Grace will continue conference play at home against the University of Saint Francis on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Struggles Continue in St. Xavier Tourney


CHICAGO, Ill. – Grace's volleyball team dropped two matches on the final day of the St. Xavier Tournament on Saturday, falling to Illinois Tech in five games and Trinity International in three.

The Lady Lancers (6-7) won the first two games against Illinois Tech 25-16 and 25-15, but slipped in the next three games to lose the match.

Mallori Kastner played well for the Lady Lancers, tallying 13 kills with a .500 kill percentage. Bethany Whitcraft had 15 digs, and Rachel Bult tallied 31 assists and 12 digs.

Grace couldn't rebound in their second match and lost in straight sets to Trinity International 25-22, 25-17 and 25-10.

Stefanie Bolt led Grace with seven kills, Bult tallied 21 assists, and Whitcraft had 18 digs. The Lady Lancers were still without their star player, Stephanie Lawson, on the second day of the tournament.

The Lady Lancers will try to snap their five-game losing streak when they kick off conference season against Marian University at home on Saturday for a 3 p.m. start.

Lady Lancers Fall in Rematch


CHICAGO, Ill. – The Lady Lancers fell to tournament host St. Xavier University 3-0 in the nightcap of day one on Friday.

It was the second time the Lady Lancers (6-5) met St. Xavier this season after Grace won in straight sets on Aug. 24. The Lady Cougars (5-2), however, earned their revenge in this outing, defeating Grace 25-11, 25-20 and 25-20.

“After coming off of a tough loss against St. Ambrose, we had to try to bounce back fast,” said head coach AndriaHarshman. “It’s tough to see the same opponent twice in the last two weeks. We knew it was going to be a tough match. We executed most of our game plan, but they executed better than we did.”

The Lady Lancers were led by Enrica Verrett with 10 kills and Rachel Bult with 23 assists. Hilary Barnett and Bethany Whitcraft recorded seven digs apiece, and Stefanie Bolt had five kills.

Grace will finish up the St. Xavier Tournament on Saturday with a match at 10 a.m. against Illinois Tech and at 12 p.m. against Trinity International University. Both games are Central Standard Time (CST).

Grace Drops Tough Match in Five Games


CHICAGO, Ill. -- Grace's volleyball team opened up play with a tough loss in five games to the Queen Bees of St. Ambrose University in the first match of the Saint Xavier Tournament on Friday.

After dropping game one 25-18, the Lady Lancers (6-4) found themselves down 8-1 and later behind 14-6 in game two. Grace, however, refused to quit and strung together a 13-0 run to win 25-20. The front line of Stefanie Bolt, Enrica Verrett, and Arielle Walters made it tough for the Queen Bees' (4-1) attackers as they combined for a total of eight block assists and one solo block.

The match was played without junior Stephanie Lawson, which forced head coach Andria Harshman to shake up the lineup. Freshman Mallori Kastner stepped up and tallied seven kills in the match.

Grace went on to win the third set 25-23 but fell in the fourth set 25-21. In the deciding game, the Lady Lancers got off to a slow start which led to a 15-8 loss to decide the match.

“We executed the things we practiced this week, but we just fell short in the fifth game," Harshman added. “Even though it was a tough loss, we saw underclassman step up."

Grace was paced by Verrett with 12 kills, Dana Johnston with 10 kills, Rachel Bult with 42 assists and Bolt with nine block assists.

Grace's Bult Named to All-Tournament Team


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Junior setter Rachel Bult was named to the Malone Invitational's All-Tournament Team for her outstanding play on Friday and Saturday.

Bult led Grace's offense to a fourth-place finish in the eight-team tournament. She recorded 146 assists in four matches, including games of 50 assists and 44 assists against Bluefield and Roberts Wesleyan respectively.

The Lady Lancers also placed two players (Stephanie Lawson, Enrica Verrett) in the All-Tournament Team of the season-opening Ramada Plaza Tournament.

Lady Lancers Continue Solid Start to Season


CANTON, Ohio. -- Grace's volleyball team split its last two games of the Malone Invitational on Saturday, defeating Concordia University (Mich.) and falling to Roberts Wesleyan College (N.Y.).

After winning the first two games handily against Concordia, the Lady Lancers fell behind 19-22 in the third game with a seemingly imminent game four to come. But fresh out of a timeout, Grace buckled down and closed out the match with a 6-1 run to complete the straight set victory.

With the win over Concordia, the Lady Lancers grabbed their sixth win of the year. In 2009, Grace did not reach their sixth win until Oct. 23, so the team's improvement in one season is tangible.

"I am very happy with how our ladies bounced back from a tough loss yesterday," said head coach Andria Harshman. "Their hard work in practice and execution in games is starting to pay off."

Grace's sweep over Concordia (0-3) was led by the freshman Dana Johnston once again. Johnston recorded 15 kills with only three errors. In Grace's six victories, Johnston has averaged 13.0 kills.

Rachel Bult continued to lead Grace's attack proficiently, with 37 assists in the three-game match. The Bult-led attack was especially evident in the third game, where Grace recorded 18 kills in a 25-23 victory.

Stephanie Lawson also recorded 10 kills in the game and a pair of service aces, and Bethany Whitcraft tied for the game-high in digs with 13.

In the second match, the Lady Lancers started off on shaky ground, yielding a 23-14 margin to Roberts Wesleyan (3-1). But Grace showed remarkable resolve with a comeback 28-26 victory.

Enrica Verrett's 18-kill performance in the match was spoiled, however, as Grace dropped the ensuing three games 25-22, 25-18, and 25-20.

The Lady Lancers impressed on defense in the match, recording 10 team blocks, led by five block assists from Johnston and four apiece from Verrett, Stefanie Bolt, and Arielle Walters. Walters was active in the game with 13 digs and 11 kills, as well.

Bult led Grace in assists again with 44 assists, and freshman Hilary Barnett recorded three service aces in the match.

"We have some definite areas of improvement we will hit on this week in practice," Harshman said, "but overall, our system is really starting to click."

Malone Stifles Grace's Attack


CANTON, Ohio. -- After a convincing win over Bluefield early on Friday, Grace's volleyball team was swept by Malone University in the second game of the Malone Invitational.

The Lady Lancers (5-2) followed up their strong offensive performance against Bluefield (57 kills) with a less-than stellar evening of 19 kills. The Lady Pioneers (2-0) recorded 9 total team blocks, including 12 block assists, in the three games to put a halt on Grace's attack.

"This game is definitely a learning experience for the girls," said head coach Andria Harshman. "We won't dwell on this loss very long, and we will hope to make improvements the rest of the weekend."

Grace's best effort came in the first game, where the Lady Lancers recorded eight kills and zero attack errors and fell by only three points, 25-22. The final two games were much different, as Grace amassed 17 attack errors and only 11 kills, falling 25-13 in game two and 25-17 in game three.

Seven players recorded kills for Grace, led by Stephanie Lawson with five kills and Enrica Verrett with four. Rachel Bult recorded 15 assists and Grace's only service ace, and Bethany Whitcraft led the game in digs with eight.

The Lady Lancers return to action on Saturday in the Malone Invite, taking on Concordia at 11 a.m. and Roberts Wesleyan at 1 p.m.

Grace Tops Bluefield to Begin Malone Invite


CANTON, Ohio. -- Grace’s volleyball team continued their early season success in the Malone Invitational with a win over Bluefield College.

Freshman Dana Johnston had a dominant performance with a game-high and career-high 19 kills on a .485 kill percentage. The Lady Lancers (5-1) pounded out 57 kills compared to 37 for the Lady Rams (0-1).

"We are very pleased with today's effort," said head coach Andria Harshman. "We were clicking on all cylinders, with Dana really showing her potential in the middle."

In game one, the Lady Lancers (5-1) jumped out to an early lead, but the Lady Rams (0-1) clawed back and regained the lead at 23-21. Grace refused to panic, however, and snuck away with a 26-24 victory in the opening game.

Grace won with an impressive effort in game two, 25-13, but dropped the third game 25-21 to Bluefield. Bluefield was only able to manage five kills in the decisive game four as Grace ran away with a 25-16 win.

Stephanie Lawson fueled a pair of Lady Lancer runs with two barrages of three straight service aces. She finished the match with nine aces and six kills. 

Sophomore Arielle Walters continued to make her presence known as an outside hitter with 11 kills and two block assists. The Lady Lancers commanded the blocking end of the match with eight total team blocks. Stefanie Bolt and Enrica Verrett led the game with four block assists. Bolt also added seven kills.

Rachel Bult had an all-around solid game with 50 assists and 11 digs. Hilary Barnett and Bethany Whitcraft tied for the team lead in digs with 13 apiece.

The Lady Lancers continue play in the Malone Invitational this weekend.

Grace Volleyball Scores Big Win


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- The improvement in Grace's volleyball team was evident Tuesday night, as the Lady Lancers defeated St. Xavier 3-1 at the Orthopaedic Capital Center.

Last season, Grace lost to the Lady Cougars 3-0, not scoring more than 18 points in a set. But even though St. Xavier returned 10 of their 12 players from 2009, Grace's enhanced attack was too much to handle.

Freshman Dana Johnston led the Lady Lancers (4-1) with a game-high 14 kills on a .407 kill percentage. She also had four block assists. Juniors Enrica Verrett (13 kills) and Stephanie Lawson (10 kills) also contributed to Grace's attack.

"I think it was clear tonight that we have a completely different team from last year," said head coach Andria Harshman. "They are deeper, more consistent and much more poised. This was a great win against a very solid St. Xavier team."

Grace jumped to a 7-2 lead in the first game and led the Lady Cougars (0-1) 16-9 midway into the set. St. Xavier, however, mounted a massive 16-5 run to finish off the Lady Lancers and snag the opener.

Last year, blowing that large of a lead may have ruined Grace. But this time, Grace responded with three straight victories, defeating St. Xavier 25-22 in game two, 25-12 in game three and 25-22 in game four.

"After slipping up in our first game, I was pleased to see the positive way our girls responded under pressure," Harshman continued. "It's always a good sign when a team can bounce back with three wins after a frustrating loss in the first game."

St. Xavier nearly forced a game five, but Grace was strong down the stretch. With the set tied at 21, Verrett had a game-changing kill to give Grace the lead and a stellar block in the next possession to give Grace a 23-21 advantage. Arielle Walters made a block to earn the Lady Lancers' 24th point, and Johnston finished off the Lady Cougars with a powerful kill.

"This was a good win for us," Harshman continued. "We had a very exciting crowd to energize us and spur us on during the heat of the match."

Rachel Bult paced the attack with 41 assists, and Missy Cooper tallied 22 digs.

The Lady Lancers are back in action at the Malone University Tournament on Friday and Saturday. They will face Bluefield College at 4 p.m. in the opening round.

Second-Place Finish Best Ever in Ramada Plaza Tourney


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- The Lady Lancers kicked off the 2010 season differently than years past.

Grace finished second-place in the Ramada Plaza Tournament, their best finish in the sixth annual invitational, falling to Indiana University-East in the championship match.

"I think we have more confidence," said head coach Andria Harshman. "I think their demeanor on the court is that they are the team to beat. It's a totally different team."

The Lady Red Wolves (4-0) are receiving votes in the NAIA preseason poll, but Grace hung with them, losing by two in the first set and by four in the next two sets.

Stephanie Lawson tallied a match-high 12 kills and three service aces while Enrica Verrett added 10 kills. Freshmen Hilary Barnett and Mallori Kastner also had solid showings in their first collegiate tournament. Barnett had a 94 percent kill percentage, and Kastner added nine kills. Rachel Bult had 34 assists.

"We're taking a step in the right direction," said assistant coach Mike Alejado. "It was a close match against a good team. It just came down to execution in a couple spots."

Grace's 3-1 record and second-place performance is a step up from last year's fourth place finish and 1-3 record. The Lady Lancers have already won three matches this season, a feat that wasn't accomplished until the beginning of September last year.

"Our returners executed our offense extremely well," Harshman continued. "We capitalized in areas that we were focusing on. Some huge freshman stepped in today and helped lead our team."

The Lady Lancers' next match is at home against St. Xavier on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

For the Ramada Plaza Tournament homepage, click here.

Grace Advances to Championship Match


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Grace's volleyball team defeated Davenport University 3-1 on Saturday afternoon to advance to the Ramada Plaza Tournament championship match.

The Lady Lancers (3-0) took down all three teams in their pool (IU-Southeast, Calumet College, and Davenport University) and continued their stellar start to the 2010 season. They earned wins in game one, two, and four, defeating Davenport (2-1) by the score of 25-18 in every game. Grace slipped up in game three, losing 25-18. 

"This is a much better start toour season," said head coach Andria Harshman. "A start like this gives us a lot of confidence, and we are excited to play in the championship match in front of our home crowd."

Enrica Verrett led the attack for the Lady Lancers, tallying 19 kills and only one error along with a .581 kill percentage. Rachel Bult had 42 assists and three service aces. Stephanie Lawson added 15 kills, Missy Cooper had 15 digs, and freshman Hilary Barnett had five service aces.

Grace has already won three matches this season, a feat that wasn't accomplished until the beginning of September last year. The Lady Lancers finished fourth in the Ramada Plaza Tournament last year and are playing for the title this season.

For the Ramada Plaza Tournament homepage, click here.

Lady Lancers Sweep Calumet at Ramada Plaza


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- After winning their first match in the Ramada Plaza Tournament, Grace continued their strong start with a 3-0 sweep against Calumet College in their second match.

The Lady Lancers (2-0) held Calumet to 10 points in the first game, eight in the second and eight in the third, outscoring the Crimson Wave (0-2) 75-26 overall.

“It feels good to get off to a strong start like this,” said head coach Andria Harshman. “I think the women are building confidence and learning to work together.”

A well-rounded effort gave Grace their second win of the season. Freshman Mallori Kastner and Enrica Verrett had nine kills apiece while freshman Dana Johnston added seven kills. Verrett also had a solid .533 kill percentage.

Rachel Bult tallied 28 assists and four service aces, and Bethany Whitcraft had 12 digs.

“Everyone was involved,” Harshman continued. “Their depth really stood out tonight. It’s nice to know that different women will be able to step up throughout this season.”

Grace will play Davenport for first place in their pool at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Depending on the outcome, the Lady Lancers will play later in the afternoon to determine their place in the tournament. If they beat Davenport, they will play for the Ramada Plaza Tournament title.

For the Ramada Plaza Tournament homepage, click here.

Late Comeback Gives Grace the Win


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- With a 2-1 lead in the match, Grace found themselves trailing Indiana University Southeast 24-20 and one point away from forfeiting a pivotal game four.

The Lady Lancers (1-0), however, strung together four straight points and went on to defeat the Grenadiers (0-1) 29-27 to earn a victory in the first round of the Ramada Plaza Tournament.

“They didn’t give up,” said head coach Andria Harshman. “It would have been easy for them to get down on themselves and start mentally preparing for game five. But they still believed they could win the fourth game.”

In her first collegiate game, freshman Dana Johnston played like a veteran, leading the match with 16 kills. She also had a team-best .483 kill percentage and only two errors.

“Dana will be a valuable asset to our team progress this season,” Harshman continued. “For her to come out and do that in her first college game just shows how mature she is as a player.”

Enrica Verrett and Stephanie Lawson added 15 kills apiece while Rachel Bult had 50 assists. Bethany Whitcraft had a match-high 15 digs, and Bult had 12 digs.

Grace won the first game 25-15, lost the second game 28-26, won the third game 25-14 and finished off Indiana University Southeast with a 29-27 win in the fourth game.

For the Ramada Plaza Tournament homepage, click here.

Grace Volleyball Geared Up for 2010 Season


WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Since taking over two seasons ago, Grace College’s volleyball coach Andria Harshman has had the task of rebuilding a program with little to no upperclassman leadership. Last year, the Lady Lancers (9-25; 2-6 Mid-Central College Conference) made headway despite a roster void of juniors and seniors. Both conference wins came on the road, highlighted by a late-season victory over fourth-place Spring Arbor to clinch a berth in the MCC Tournament. 

“We ended the season right where we wanted to be, by making it into the conference tournament and beating two conference schools throughout conference play," Harshman said. "Our team had the ability as freshman and sophomores last year, and we proved that to ourselves as we had a great finish to the season.” 

While Grace will still be without a senior to lead them on the court this year, the underclassmen will have a definite edge in playing time over other teams. The past two seasons, the Lady Lancers have been simply young.  But this year Grace hopes their experience trumps their youth on the court.

“When it came to finishing matches, we weren’t able to do what was necessary because in every line up we were relying on young and inexperienced players at the collegiate players.  There was no senior to step up and say get me the ball.” Harshman said, “However, now that we are returning 6 juniors and 4 sophomores, every starter returning, we have that court experience now that we didn’t have in the past. It’s going to be a huge advantage for us.” 

Enrica Verrett and Stephanie Lawson, entering their junior seasons, seem to be ready to lead Grace into the top half of the conference this year. Lawson’s 322 kills and 54 service aces (which ranked first in the MCC) was the most potent offensive force Grace had. She also added 238 digs, good enough for second on the team. Verrett was second on the team in kills with 281 and her .200 hitting percentage was first. “Those two have drastically taken it to a new level over the offseason. They’re ready to lead the team,” Harshman said. 

The Lady Lancers are counting on a solid freshman class, led by middle hitters Dana Johnston (Rochester, Mich./Oakland Christian) and Mallori Kastner (Wabash, Ind./Wabash), to infuse the team with height and blocking power. Both Johnston and Kastner, 6-2 and 6-0 respectively, are expected to join returning sophomore Stefanie Bolt (5-11) in the middle of Grace’s revamped attack. 

Lawson and Verrett had to carry the bulk of the offense last year from the outside hitting positions, recording over half of the team’s kills. Harshman is confident that Grace’s height in the middle this year will open up the outside even more. Also adding to the depth on the outside is sophomore Arielle Walters, who made the switch from playing as a middle hitter last spring and has adjusted tremendously, according to Harshman. 

Other returners figuring to play major roles include junior Rachel Bult and sophomore Missy Cooper. Cooper’s 339 digs were tops on the team, and Bult recorded 559 assists and 214 digs last year as the setter. “The type of offense (Bult) is running now is dynamic and fast-paced,” Harshman added. “She is really ready to lead the team back to the top of the conference.” 

The Lady Lancers are anxious to jump several teams in the conference this year – one of their goals is to finish in the top four in the MCC. And they have the experience to achieve it, as well, with every starter returning. 

“This is the first year for us to be a real threat in the conference,” Harshman said. “If we play the way we have been all summer, we can realistically finish in the top half of the conference. We have a lot to learn and continue to build upon, but we have the talent to take the next step. We’re excited to see the potential of this team.”

The Lady Lancers open the 2010 season at the Orthopaedic Capital Center on August 20-21 for the Ramada Plaza Tournament. For the tournament homepage, click here.