Archive for the ‘Feature Stories’ Category

Grace Spikers Sweep Spring Arbor

Monday, September 21st, 2015

pictured is Grace's volleyball team during the team's sweep of Spring Arbor on Friday night

Grace’s volleyball team outmuscled Spring Arbor in three sets for the team’s second straight Crossroads League victory.

The Lady Lancers (10-8, 2-4 CL) made short work of the Cougars, winning 3-0 on Friday night at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

Grace clicked on all cylinders in the match, holding the Cougars (4-12, 0-6 CL) to a negative team hitting percentage of -.012. Grace had at least nine kills in every set en route to the sweep.

In the opening set, Grace’s offense proved too much for Spring Arbor to handle. Grace pounded out 13 kills on a .440 percentage, blowing out Spring Arbor 25-10.

The second set was similar to the first. Grace had 13 kills on a .458 percentage in a 25-12 win. Tori Bontrager was the central figure in the game with 4 kills, 2 aces and 2 block assists.

The final set proved to be the closest. Grace led for the majority of the game, but the Cougars clawed back late. The Lady Lancers still managed to pull out the three-point win 25-22 to clinch the sweep.

Bontrager led all players with eight kills, needing just 10 attempts to reach that mark (.700 percentage). She also notched three aces and three block assists.

Naarah Foster tallied four kills and two block assists, and Kelsee Zuidema and Kari Feddema also had four kills. Taylor Baird finished with 16 assists and seven digs, and Sara Miller produced a match-high eight digs.

The Lady Lancers will look to make it three straight wins on Saturday when Grace hosts St. Francis at the MOCC at 3 p.m.

Lady Lancers Score Major Win Over Taylor

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Pictured is Grace's volleyball team celebrating winning a point against Taylor on Wednesday.

Grace’s volleyball team secured a much-needed win, taking down rival Taylor 3-1 on Wednesday.

The Lady Lancers (9-8, 1-4 Crossroads League) used balanced production to take down Taylor, who is receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25.

Four players reached double-digit kills for Grace, led by Kelsee Zuidema’s 13 kills. Tori Bontrager had 12 kills on a .435 percentage, and Kari Feddema and Sierra Smith each notched 11 kills.

For the match Grace hit at a .205 percentage. The Lady Lancers had 22 more kills than the Trojans (6-6, 3-1 CL), 19 more assists and 17 more digs.

Grace started the stronger of the two teams in the opening set, forcing Taylor to burn a timeout after just the ninth rally. The Lady Lancers maintained their lead throughout the game, however, easing away to a 25-20 win.

Taylor held a slight lead for much of the second set. Grace nearly recovered from a four-point hole late in the game, but the Trojans managed to tie the match 25-21.

In the third set, Grace found itself in trouble. Taylor scored eight of the first 10 points and still led 13-5 when coach Katie Van Hofwegen called her first timeout. Her strategy seemed to pay off as Grace battled to within three at 20-17. A Taylor timeout could not stem Grace’s momentum, however, as the Lady Lancers scored four straight points to take the lead 21-20 on a kill from Kelsee Zuidema. Taylor fought off two set points, but Kari Feddema ended things with an emphatic kill in the middle to win it 25-23.

The fourth set was hotly contested throughout the game. Grace’s offense eventually helped the Lady Lancers pull ahead down the stretch with 18 kills and just seven errors. Sara Miller made an outstanding defensive play on the final point, leading Grace to a match-clinching 25-22 win.

“We played great tonight. We’ve made a lot of changes in practice, and the girls responded well. We came out with energy and fire, and it made all the difference,” Van Hofwegen said. “Our hitters connected well with the setters, which kept the defense off-balance. Sara [Miller] and Caylie [Teel] played great defense and passed solidly for us, and we served tough. Everything we’d been working hard in practice all week transitioned onto the court tonight. We’re excited to see how that progresses.”

Taylor Baird (27 assists) and Laken Chaney (26 assists) split the setting duties on the night. Miller topped her career-high with 32 digs, and Kaitlin Kerrigan added eight kills and 17 digs. Caylie Teel had nine assists, and Naarah Foster chipped in four kills.

The Lady Lancers have two more home matches remaining this week. Grace hosts Spring Arbor on Friday at 7 p.m. and St. Francis on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

Women’s Golf Places Second at First Home Tourney

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

pictured is freshman (Elkhart Central grad) Libby Tully on Tuesday.

Tuesday marked a memorable day for Grace’s women’s golf team with the program’s first home tournament.

The Lady Lancers finished second out of four Crossroads League teams at the Lancer Invitational, held at Stonehenge Golf Club.

“Today was a learning experience for our young team. We didn’t perform at the level we expect of ourselves, but it’s clear we’re making steady progress,” said Grace head coach Denny Duncan. “Our freshmen are making so many life adjustments that some level of inconsistency is understandable. We just can’t let that become acceptable. We’ve had tremendous effort and enthusiasm from the first day. What we need now is to raise the level of our intensity and focus during practice.”

Lauren Keiser posted the lowest score of the tournament for Grace with an 87. Libby Tully was next in Line with a 99, and Kate Adams was third on the team with a 100.

Stevie Luebbert carded a 104 to round out Grace’s scoring, and Amanda Gifford shot 122. Alex Noppert (116) and Emily McDermit (117) played as individuals for Grace.h

Grace’s next tournament is Saturday with the Manchester Invitational at Honeywell Golf Course.

Grace’s Schue Repeats as League Defensive Player of the Week

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

For the second straight week, Grace’s goalkeeper Abby Schue was named the Crossroads League Defensive Player of the Week.

Schue has had a remarkable start to the Lady Lancers’ season, helping NAIA No. 15 Grace to a perfect 7-0 start.

Last week Schue picked up her sixth and seventh wins of the season as Grace’s goalkeeper, helping the Lady Lancers to a pair of wins over teams receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25. She made three saves against John Brown and four more against Oklahoma City to maintain Grace’s perfect start.

Grace already has five shutouts this season — good for second in the nation. Schue has a goals against average of 0.43 per game, which leads the league.

The Lady Lancers face their stiffest test of the season on Saturday when Grace welcomes No. 2 Northwestern Ohio to Miller Athletic Complex at 7 p.m.

Kessler to Be Inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Legendary Grace men’s basketball coach Jim Kessler will add another milestone to his impressive career — NAIA Hall of Fame.

Kessler will be inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015, announced on Tuesday by the national office.

The NAIA Hall of Fame was established in 1952 and recognizes an individual’s service to intercollegiate athletics, the NAIA and their sport. Induction into the NAIA Hall of Fame, and the ensuing title of Hall of Famer, is the highest individual honor bestowed by the Association.

“I am honored to be recognized by the NAIA and my peers. This is not something I set out to do when I began coaching, but I’m thankful the Lord blessed my work at Grace,” Kessler said. “I’m thankful to Grace College for the opportunity to make a career coaching basketball. I have been blessed with supportive presidents, administrations and athletic directors who have stood by me through the ups and downs of a coaching career. No one achieves anything of note without the contributions of others, and I have countless people to thank for this award.”

Kessler was the 45th coach in the history of men’s college basketball to win 700 games, eclipsing the milestone in the first game of the 2014-15 season. He is set to begin his 39th season in charge of the Lancers and has racked up a career record of 722-539.

Under Kessler’s leadership, the Lancers have reached nine NAIA National Championships and seven NCCAA National Championships. He has won 13 games at the NAIA tournament, including the 1992 NAIA Div. II national championship season.

Additionally, Kessler has 17 seasons with 20 or more wins and three seasons with 30 or more wins. He has won five Coach of the Year awards, 10 Crossroads League titles and has been inducted into the NCCAA Hall of Fame and the Lancer Hall of Fame. He was named the NAIA Coach of the Year once (1992) and the NCCAA Coach of the Year twice (1983, 1992).

“I have known Jim for nearly 45 years. His life has been one long continuity of integrity, humility, outstanding accomplishments and service,” said Grace president Dr. Bill Katip. “His coaching numbers speak for themselves, but it is the enormous personal impact Coach Kessler has made on our campus that endears him to us. He is a man of integrity and a role model to countless young men. I am honored to work with him at Grace College, and he is worthy of this recognition in every way.”

Kessler annually organizes tournaments designed to give back to the local community, impacting the surrounding area and local organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Kosciusko County Cancer Care Fund. For his contributions to the lives of the youth in the Warsaw area, he received the Pete Thorne Memorial Award in 2005. He also was given the NABC Guardians of the Game National Award for Service in 2006.

“Jim continues to be a standard of Christian excellence in the arena of athletics. His leadership and servant-like attitude has been a foundation within our athletic department, and he daily impacts our campus and community,” said Grace athletic director Chad Briscoe. “He is a revered coach of character who is respected by his peers in the collegiate ranks. Jim’s entire coaching career in the NAIA and his body of work is fully deserving of this award.”

Kessler is only the second individual from Grace to be inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame. Chet Kammerer, former men’s basketball coach at Grace and Westmont (Calif.), received the honor in 2000.

Keiser qualifies for NCCAA Nationals for Women’s Golf

Monday, September 14th, 2015

pictured is Grace women's golf coach Denny Duncan with Lauren Keiser

Grace’s women’s golf team competed in its first NCCAA Midwest Regional as a program on Friday and Saturday.

The Lady Lancers finished third out of three teams at StonyCreek Golf Club, but freshman Lauren Keiser qualified as an individual for NCCAA Nationals in a dramatic playoff.

Keiser, who fired an 83 in the first round, came back to shoot 86 in the second round and tie for the top individual finisher outside of the team champ Indiana Wesleyan. Keiser then clinched a spot at NCCAA Nationals thanks to beating her opponent in a playoff.

“The team struggled a bit, especially yesterday when it rained throughout the day,” said Grace head coach Denny Duncan. “We are extremely proud of Lauren [Keiser], who showed a lot of confidence to win a playoff to represent Grace at NCCAA Nationals in Florida.”

As a team, Grace improved 13 strokes on the second day. Libby Tully was the most consistent performer for Grace, carding a 97-94.

Stevie Luebbert made the biggest jump between rounds, improving eight strokes with a 104-96. Aspen Rogers finished with a 101-96, and Kate Adams had 108-101 in her first collegiate tournament.

The Lady Lancers’ next tournament is also Grace’s first home tourney as a program. The Lancer Invitational will start on Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. at Stonehenge Golf Club.

Women’s Soccer Wins in NAIA Network Game of the Week

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Pictured is Mallory Rondeau celebrating her first-half goal against Oklahoma City on Saturday. Photo provided by John Brown University

The national spotlight did not prove to be too bright for Grace’s women’s soccer team to handle. The Lady Lancers beat Oklahoma City 2-1 on Saturday in the NAIA Network Game of the Week.

No. 15 Grace improved to 7-0 on the season, polishing off the Stars (2-2) who were receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25. The Lady Lancers have now beaten four teams who are ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA during the nonleague season.

Grace will take a week off before returning to Miller Athletic Complex on Sept. 19 for a high-octane matchup against No. 2 Northwestern Ohio.

In Grace’s match on Saturday, all three goals were scored in first half. The Lady Lancers wasted little time getting on the scoreboard against the Stars. Aubrey Feipel gained an advantage on the left side of the field and centered a pass into the center of the penalty box. Mallory Rondeau then coolly slotted in her shot at the 6:21 mark, stunning OCU.

The Stars equalized on a counter-attack, turning a defensive clearance into an unassisted goal from 21 yards away in the 16th minute.

The game winner was struck in the 36th minute. Heather Martin lofted a free kick into a dangerous position close to the Stars’ goal, and Carianne Sobey headed in the goal from close range at the 35:16 mark.

In the second half, Grace truly asserted its possession muscles. The Lady Lancers maintained close to 60 percent of the possession and had numerous attacks at OCU’s goal, but the Stars denied Grace an insurance goal. Rondeau broke free on a long run, but dragged her shot wide. Kaitlyn Hayes and Maile Grout also had strong looks at OCU’s goal to no avail.

The Lady Lancers ended the match with a 15-10 advantage in shots and 4-3 advantage in corner kicks. Sobey and Rondeau took three shots apiece, and Hayes and Grout each took two shots.

Abby Schue won her seventh game of the year as Grace’s goalkeeper. The sophomore made four saves in 90 minutes and was defended well by Heather Martin, Meredith Matson, Faith Voehringer and Kristelle Jadoo.

“Today’s match was very similar to Thursday for us. We played decently but never really fired on all cylinders. We worked hard, were composed at times and were dangerous, but we never really opened up to full-throttle ‘possession attacking futbol,’” said Grace head coach Michael Voss. “I’m impressed at the creation of the four 1v1s, but it’s necessary we finish those chances. Overall this was a good trip to take. It challenged us in ways outside of the field, and we grew.”

Lady Lancers Pick Up First Win of Season

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Grace’s women’s tennis team used balanced production to beat Spring Arbor 6-3 on Saturday afternoon.

The Lady Lancers (1-3, 1-3 Crossroads League) handed Spring Arbor its first loss of the season while Grace picked up its first win of the year.

Six players had a part in scoring a point for Grace. The Cougars (2-1, 2-1 CL) fell behind early when the Lady Lancers took two of the three doubles’ points. Natalia Kurkova and Molly Fitzpatrick won 8-6 at No. 1 doubles, and Katie Etter and Jenna Jackson earned an 8-4 win at No. 3 doubles.

Kurkova and Jackson went on to win their singles’ matches in straight sets as well. Kurkova fought off her opponent at No. 1 singles 7-6, 6-4, and Jackson coasted to a 6-2, 6-3 victory at No. 4 singles.

Gabrielle Lawrence eased away for a win at No. 5 singles 6-1, 6-1, and Mariah Zumbrun closed out the scoring with a 7-6, 6-3 victory at No. 6 singles.

“I thought the girls came ready to play today. From the opening points, they looked focused and appeared to be in good form early,” said Grace assistant coach Marcus Moore. “It was nice to get an early lead in doubles to give us momentum for singles’ matches.”

The Lady Lancers continue league play on Tuesday against perennial league powers Indiana Wesleyan. Grace hosts the Wildcats at 3:30 p.m. at Miller Athletic Complex.

Men’s Soccer strikes late to beat Cornerstone

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Grace’s men’s soccer team continued its hot streak with a 2-1 victory over Cornerstone on Friday night.

The Lancers (4-2) won their fourth straight contest thanks to a pair of second-half goals.

“We weren’t perfect tonight, and we can continue to learn,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “We struggled to make the necessary adjustments in the first half, but our guys were hopeful at halftime and we knew we could do the job. We have less than 24 hours to prepare for a quality Roosevelt team, and we will need all the rest we can get.”

The first half of action between Grace and the Golden Eagles (2-3) proved to be tame offensively compared to what was coming. The teams combined for seven shots with Cornerstone holding a slight 4-3 advantage. Both sides had two shots on goal in the first half as the match remained scoreless until halftime.

The excitement started in the 63rd minute. A well-worked attack from Grace resulted in an attack on the right side of the field. Kyle Hamlin linked up with Mitchell Zeilenga, and Zeilenga slotted home his first career goal at the 62:14 mark.

Cornerstone responded eight minutes later with the equalizer. The Golden Eagles capitalized on Grace’s miscommunication in the backfield to tie the match with 20 minutes remaining.

Thomas Tydeman then found his moment to shine. The junior forward took a pass from Jon Christensen and unleashed a laser of a goal from deep in the 75th minute to beat Cornerstone’s goalkeeper.

The Golden Eagles pressed hard for their second equalizer of the match, taking four shots and a corner kick over the final 15 minutes. But Grace’s defense denied each opportunity to hold on for the win.

Robbie Barnhill picked up the victory in goal for Grace, making six saves in 90 minutes.

The Lancers were outshot 17-8 in the match, and each team took five corner kicks.

“Cornerstone is a good team, and they are scrappy. In the second half we did a better job moving forward, and the game seemed to open up a bit,” Hotchkin said. “They missed a couple of good chances, but so did we. Thomas Tydeman’s goal was a real cracker from far out. But this was a team effort with many guys helping and supporting the collective unit.”

The Lancers will regroup with a quick turnaround on Saturday. Grace plays Roosevelt at 4 p.m. to conclude the Spring Arbor Invitational.

Grace XC women set program record

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Ariel Arellano highlighted a strong showing by Grace’s cross country team at the IWU Invitational on Friday.

The freshman crossed the finish line in 18:55 to place seventh out of 109 runners, helping the Lady Lancers to a third-place showing in the meet. The men’s team were sixth out of 10 teams in the meet.

The Lady Lancers’ team time of 1:39.16 broke the program record as four of Grace’s top six runners set personal bests. Arellano became the first female runner at Grace to break the 19-minute barrier since MariJean Wegert and Ashley Thomas in 2010.

On the women’s side, Katelyn McCullough just missed a top-10 showing and ended in 13th place with a time of 19:09. Raven Arellano finished the race in 20:04, Karla Singer ended in 20:33, and Emma Mitchell was less than a second behind Singer.

Grace’s women’s team finished with a team score of 113, only behind NAIA No. 9-ranked Taylor and No. 13 Indiana Wesleyan in the race.

“The ladies did a very nice job today. The course is the easiest we will run on this year, but posting so many PR’s this early in the year is still impressive,” said Grace head coach Jeff Raymond. “Ariel [Arellano] looked really strong today, and Katelyn [McCullough] was close behind. I also must compliment Emma [Mitchell] and Julia [Neal] for running very nice races.”

The men’s team was led by freshmen. Grace’s top three finishers were all freshmen running their first collegiate 8k race.

Grace was paced by Joel Bertelsen, who finished in 27:09 for 31st place. Fellow freshmen Sam Hall (27:31) and Brendan Hamilton (27:35) were second and third for Grace.

Brandon Smith crossed the finish line in 27:52, and Tyler Houvener ended in 28:07.

“I’m pleased with the freshmen and the way they ran. They now have a feel for the 8k distance and will continue to improve,” Raymond said. “Fortunately it’s a long season, and we have time for our entire men’s group to move forward.”

Grace’s next race is Sept. 19 with the Friendship Invitational at Cedarville University.