Archive for the ‘Feature Stories’ Category

Volleyball Improves to 4-0 With Perfect Tournament

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Grace’s volleyball team continued its undefeated start to 2014 with victories over Indiana Tech and St. Xavier on Saturday at the Wyndham Classic.

The Lady Lancers (4-0) pulled past the Warriors in extra sets and swept St. Xavier to close out the tournament.

Grace’s final match on Friday was a five-set win against IU-Kokomo, and the Lady Lancers followed suit with a five-setter against Indiana Tech on Saturday.

The Warriors (1-2) took advantage of a slow start by the Lady Lancers to win 25-15 in the opening set. Grace evened the match with a 25-20 win in the following set, thanks to five kills from Calah Kruse. Two aces from Laken Chaney sparked Grace early in the game.

Grace seemed on its way to a third-set victory with a 17-13 lead, but seven straight points from the Warriors swung the match back in Indiana Tech’s favor. The Warriors made several late plays to hold on for a two-point win.

The Lady Lancers’ offense was at its peak in the fourth set, ripping off 18 kills on a .316 percentage. Ellie Harp dished out 15 assists, and Grace Woolsey had six kills as Grace won 25-21 to force a fifth set.

The tiebreaker could not have started worse for Grace. The Warriors opened the game with a 5-0 lead, but Grace rallied with five straight points of its own to force a Cougars’ timeout. The score went back-and-forth down the stretch and was tied at 14-14. Woolsey then produced a solo block point, and Megan Johnson crushed the winning kill to move Grace to 3-0 on the young season.

Woolsey finished with 16 kills, 7 block assists and 1 solo block in the win, and Kruse poured in 17 kills, 12 digs and 2 aces. Harp handed out 50 assists to go along with 10 digs, and Hannah Clemmons led all players with 21 digs.

Johnson chipped in 11 kills on a .286 percentage with three block assists, and Tori Bontrager had seven kills on a .462 percentage with three block assists.

Grace made short work of St. Xavier in its second match of the day. Megan Johnson sparked the opening-set victory with five kills as Grace won 25-20.

After the first set, the Lady Lancers asserted their dominance. The Cougars (1-1) were held to just two kills in the second game, falling 25-8. Grace then went on to conclude the sweep with a 25-18 win, ending the tournament on a kill by freshman Kari Feddema.

Ellie Harp was named the Wyndham Classic Most Valuable Player, and Grace Woolsey also appeared on the All-Tournament Team.

Grace will play again next weekend in Daytona Beach, Fla., in part of the Embry-Riddle Tournament.

Lady Lancers Win Pair to Kick Off 2014 Season

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Pictured is freshman Tori Bontrager (center) celebrating a kill late in Grace's win over IU-Kokomo on Friday

An exciting first day of volleyball for Grace College was capped off by a five-set thriller at the Wyndham Classic on Friday.

The Lady Lancers defeated IU-East 3-1 to open up the tournament and ended the day with a memorable 3-2 win against IU-Kokomo.

In Grace’s opening match of the day, the Lady Lancers seemed to get better as the afternoon progressed. Grace lost the opening set to IU-East but recovered to win the match 3-1.

Grace had as many attacking errors (10) as kills in the first set, and the Red Wolves pulled away late to win 25-23. Grace’s defense impressed in the second set, tallying 15 digs including seven from Hannah Clemmons to win 25-21.

The third set was knotted at 20-20 when Annie Salazar provided a spark off the bench with pinpoint serves. Freshman Sierra Smith finished off the game with a kill as Grace won 25-22.

Grace’s offense was clicking on all cylinders by the fourth set. The Lady Lancers ripped off 21 kills on a .432 percentage to win 25-20.

Grace Woolsey was a dominant figure on offense, producing 10 kills on 11 attempts for a .818 percentage. She added a match-high six block assists. Kaitlin Kerrigan recorded 13 kills and seven digs, and Calah Kruse had 8 kills, 8 digs and 3 block assists.

Ellie Harp handed out 45 assists to spearhead Grace’s offense. Sierra Smith added 12 kills and four block assists in her collegiate debut, and Tori Bontrager had four kills on four attempts in her first match for Grace.

The Lady Lancers repeated their cold start in the second match of the day against IU-Kokomo. Grace had a team hitting percentage of .030, allowing the Cougars (0-2) to win 25-14.

Grace responded with more energy in the second set as late kills from Sierra Smith and Megan Johnson propelled the home team to a three-point win.

The third set was all Grace. The Lady Lancers exploded for 15 kills on three errors, blasting by the Cougars for a 25-14 win. But IU-Kokomo kept the match alive with a five-point win in the fourth game, using a 12-6 run late to force a tiebreaker.

After falling behind 1-4 in the early stages, Grace rallied with seven unanswered points. The Cougars did not fade, however, cutting Grace’s lead down to 8-7. From that point forward, Grace played inspired volleyball in front of a frenzied home crowd. The fans erupted after an acrobatic defensive save from Sara Miller was followed up by a kill from Tori Bontrager, handing Grace an 11-7 lead they wouldn’t surrender. Grace went on to clinch the match 15-12 on a well-placed kill by Woolsey.

Sierra Smith tied for match honors with 16 kills, and Calah Kruse was right behind with 13. Ellie Harp tallied 49 assists, 5 kills, 6 digs and 2 aces, and Miller had a match-high 20 digs.

Woolsey added nine kills on a .500 percentage to go along with 3 aces, 2 solo blocks and 3 block assists, Clemmons finished with 13 digs, and Laken Chaney came off the bench to tally five digs and an ace in her first collegiate appearance.

Grace continues action in the Wyndham Classic on Saturday against Indiana Tech at 11 a.m. and St. Xavier at 4 p.m. Watch both matches online at

Grace Welcomes Its New Mascot: Sir Red

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

After a month-long process of collecting names and submissions from Lancer Nation, Grace has revealed its new mascot – Sir Red.

Sir Red is a state-of-the-art, full-bodied knight with breathable, flexible and moveable mesh armor. He features a detachable and extendable lance and a shield to both protect Grace’s home court and attack any opposition.

Besides being the Lancers’ official color, red has historical significance for the Lancers. Grace’s athletic teams were first represented by the seminary, dubbing themselves the Ambassadors with the colors blue and gold. When the college decided to establish its own athletic identity, it decided on the color red. Lancer Nation was officially born.

Sir Red was officially revealed on Thursday, Aug. 21, at Grace’s student chapel service. Dr. Bill Katip ceremonially knighted Sir Red with a lance, charging the new mascot with the following proclamation:

“You have sworn to uphold the chivalry — its honors, rights and privileges; to remain faithful and loyal to the fans and athletes of Grace College; to uphold the principles of sportsmanship; to rally inimitable school spirit, and defend its honor to the end.

By your deeds and demeanor, you have earned the right to a place on our field. Having fulfilled the requirements of boundless energy, mesmerizing personality, and agility in armor, and having had your qualifications spoken to, and been clothed in your vestments, I hereby bestow upon you the accolade of Knighthood.

Ergo, it is before the assembled nobility and faithful Red Zone compatriots that I do deem thee SIR RED, mascot of Grace College. Go forth and rally our teams to victory!”

Men’s Tennis Eyes Three-Peat of League Crown

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Coming off back-to-back regular season championships in the Crossroads League, Grace’s men’s tennis team has reloaded for another charge at the league title.

Despite graduating three starters from the 2013 squad, head coach Larry Schuh is confident of the Lancers’ depth and ability to keep the pace in 2014.

“I do not sense the guys letting the pressure of being a two-time conference champ weighing them down,” Schuh said. “Part of that is confidence and part of that is because our players simply play fearlessly. They are not afraid to fail.”

Leading the team is returning No. 1 singles player Daniel Sanchez. The senior earned First Team All-League honors after posting a 6-2 record in singles and 6-2 record at No. 1 doubles.

Jose Marval is set to play a major role in his junior season, coming off an impressive 2013 campaign. Marval was a First Team All-League selection after finishing 7-1 at No. 2 doubles and 6-2 at No. 2 singles.

Other returners with experience include juniors Ricardo Bedon and Ethan Grove and sophomores David Driscoll, Jacob Stump and Gabe Vervynckt.

Schuh, a two-time CL Coach of the Year (2013, 2009), brought in two international players for the fall season. Sophomore Uros Pajic (Serbia) played his freshman season at NCAA Division I Chicago State and will likely play at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles in 2014. Freshman Danila Kourkoulin was a standout tennis player from Haifa, Israel.

Although the Lancers have high hopes of continuing their league success and advancing to NAIA Nationals, the Schuh-led Lancers are dedicated to remaining true to their mission.

“The goals and expectations every year center around going to nationals, but those expectations are embedded in doing it the right way,” Schuh said. “We see tennis as a means to glorify God. If we are winning but not reflecting Christ on the court, it is a vain pursuit and a meaningless result. But to win and to bring attention to Christ at the same time will enrich the winning experience while seeking first His kingdom.”

The first step in Grace’s defense of its league title begins on Aug. 27 at Huntington at 4:30 p.m.

Pictured above is Grace’s men’s tennis team for 2014.

Men’s Soccer Claims Win in Season Opener

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Grace’s men’s soccer team started its season on the right foot, picking up a 1-0 victory over Colorado Christian on Thursday.

The Lancers defeated the NCAA Division II school with a first-half own goal, and Grace had a strong 14-8 shot advantage in the match.

Grace’s goal came three minutes before halftime when an own goal beat the Cougars’ goalkeeper at the 42:58 mark.

In the first half, Grace took eight corner kicks and seven shot attempts. The Lancers continued their assault on the Cougars’ goal after halftime, outshooting Colorado Christian 7-3.

“We played with strong commitment and with our style of soccer. We did a nice job moving the ball and got comfortable as the game went on,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “Our finishing touches are not crisp, and that clearly needs improvement. But overall I thought we played good, balanced soccer.”

Danilo Carnelos led all players with three shots. Gift Sibukome had two shots on goal, and Josiah O’Deens, Austin Altimus and Trent Smith each tallied two shots apiece.

Hector Torres, O’Deens, Isaac Magnuson and Zack Tucker each made their first official collegiate appearance for the Lancers.

Jacob Cole earned the shutout victory in goal, making three saves in 90 minutes of action.

The Lancers continue their Colorado road trip on Saturday against another NCAA DII school University of Colorado-Colorado Springs at 4 p.m.

Grace College to Offer Tuition Reduction and Free Textbook Rentals

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Since 2010, Grace College has been a nationally recognized pioneer in higher education, pursuing the most creative ways to offer students an excellent and affordable, faith-based education.

As the college has reimagined itself over the past several years, it first redesigned its curricular model to accommodate the pursuit of an accelerated undergraduate degree in any of their 65 majors within a three-year time frame. They also added more opportunities for applied learning experiences and internships outside the classroom. As a second act, Grace raised the bar again to allow the option to graduate with a bachelor’s plus a master’s degree in just four years total.

In its relentless pursuit of new methods, it’s no surprise Grace is innovating once again. With the new Measure of Grace initiative, effective with the entering class in fall of 2015, Grace will lower the cost of tuition by 9 percent.

In addition, each continuous year a student returns as an undergraduate, Grace will lower the tuition by another $500. This can add up to as much as a $3,000 additional savings. One of the real game-changers likely to create a buzz, however, is offering all undergraduate students their textbook rentals for free (excluding workbooks and consumables). For average students, this equates to another $4,800 back in their pockets over four years.

“We are convinced that high quality and affordability can go hand-in hand,” said Dr. Bill Katip, president of Grace. “This is the next step, and we are excited to see this process unfold.”

“Grace’s commitment to innovation has set them apart from others in the world of higher education,” said Paul Blair, vice president of financial affairs at Grace. “With the new Measure of Grace initiative, which includes tuition reduction and free textbook rentals, students will find themselves with more breathing room and financial stability in their college planning.”

Grace Volleyball Sets Focus for 2014 Campaign

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The Grace College volleyball team may have big visions for the 2014 season, but the Lady Lancers are focused on one day at a time this fall.

The Andria Harshman-coached spikers clinched their third consecutive 20-win season in 2013, finishing 20-17 and 9-9 in the Crossroads League. While Harshman is hoping for a long 2014 season with a national tournament at the end, she ultimately wants the team to concentrate on winning each day.

“We definitely want to be in contention for the league title and are practicing from day one to be in that mix,” Harshman said. “But this season we are planning to go 1-0 every day. We want to win each game, each practice and play our very best every day. If we aim to go 1-0 every practice and every game, we’ll end up winning a lot more than we lose.”

At the team’s nucleus is a trio of seasoned seniors who have stepped up to lead the squad. Outside hitter Calah Kruse (396 kills) and setter Ellie Harp (1,072 assists) were All-League performers last year, and Hannah Clemmons (552 digs) has worked hard this offseason to grab the team’s libero position.

Harshman expects the seniors’ leadership and voice to be a major advantage for Grace. “We will have a lot of senior leadership on the court this year – more so than we’ve ever really had. All three ladies will play crucial positions for us and provide a ton of valuable experience to the court.”

Offensively, the Lady Lancers’ fast, dynamic attack will be spearheaded by Harp and Kruse. They will be joined by returning outside hitters Alix Underwood, Kaitlin Kerrigan and Megan Johnson and several new faces in the middle.

Sophomore middle hitter Grace Woolsey has made major strides this offseason, according to Harshman, and provides a dominant attacking and blocking presence in the middle. Three freshmen (Savannah Hart, Tori Bontrager, Kari Feddema) add depth and versatility to Grace’s middle hitters.

Freshman Sierra Smith was a pivotal piece of Harshman’s 2014 recruiting class. The 6-foot-2 opposite hitter will be a major presence on both sides of the net right away, according to Harshman. “Sierra [Smith] is going to be absolutely dominant for us. She’s the piece we can build an offense around because of her presence. It’ll be hard for teams to contain her at the net, and she’ll allow our middles to get open as a result.”

Grace’s blocking efforts should be revamped in 2014, due in part from new personnel and part to a new system. The new swing-blocking system promotes a “powerful, explosive style of blocking,” according to Harshman.

Clemmons likely returns to her starting libero role in 2014, teaming up with juniors Annie Salazar and Jessica Scherb and freshman Sara Miller to form a fast, hardworking back row. The group has displayed a high level of intensity and determination in the preseason.

Adding valuable depth to the team are backup setters Taylor Baird and Laken Chaney, opposite hitter Cassaundra Worthen and outside hitter Angie Mack.

Harshman will be assisted by Mike Alejado and first-year assistant Gillian Gabryluk. The coaches hope to weave the team’s motto of “Soli Deo Gloria” (Glory to God Alone) into the legacy of the 2014 squad. “This year the team is studying what it means to work for the Lord and not for men,” Harshman said. “What we do off the court is emphasized by how we play on the court. The court is a place we want to redirect people to God. Soli Deo Gloria.”

The Lady Lancers open their season at home with the Wyndham Classic on Aug. 22-23. Grace will play four teams over the weekend tournament held at Grace’s Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

Pictured is the 2014 Grace College volleyball team.

Historic Night Highlights Grace’s New Soccer Stadium

Monday, August 18th, 2014

An estimated 1,200 fans packed the newly renovated Miller Athletic Complex on Friday night to take in a historic night for Grace Athletics.

The men’s and women’s soccer teams for Grace enjoyed their first taste of soccer under the lights at Miller Field in a pair of night-time exhibition matches. Along with the stadium lights, the new-look stadium debuted bleacher seating, scoreboard, team dugouts, press box and entryway for a standing-room only crowd.

A pregame ceremony led by Grace athletic director Chad Briscoe officially opened the new stadium. Grace soccer coaches Matt Hotchkin and Michael Voss along with their families and Grace board member Kip Cone turned on the lights for the public for the first time to cap off the prematch festivities.

The men’s game saw the Lancers pull out a 2-0 exhibition victory over club team F.C. Indiana. Austin Altimus was credited with a goal and an assist in the second half to propel the Lancers to an opening win.

Altimus crossed a dangerous ball into the path of freshman Zack Tucker and a Lion defender, and Tucker’s pressure and positioning paid off with a ricochet into the net from close range in the 60th minute.

In the 84th minute, Altimus received a low cross in the penalty box from Gift Sibukome. Altimus made a quick turn and rifled his shot past the goalkeeper to complete an impressive performance. Sibukome also rattled the crossbar with a blast in the opening half.

The women’s match featured the Lady Lancers against the Haiti Women’s National Team, currently No. 56 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Rankings. Haiti, who is in the midst of a qualifying run toward the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, produced two quick goals to start the match. Grace responded patiently to build its possession-based attack.

Haiti finished a loose ball in the penalty box for the team’s third goal midway into the second half, but Grace responded with its second international goal in program history. Jordan Hairgrove and Mallory Rondeau linked up for a nifty combination play, resulting in Rondeau beating Haiti’s goalkeeper late with 10 minutes remaining in the contest. Haiti tacked on a fourth goal in the final minutes, producing the final 4-1 scoreline.

In addition to the estimated 1,200 fans in attendance on Friday night, over 650 viewers joined the historic night via Grace’s live video broadcast, which was featured on

New-look Miller Field to Open Friday

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Grace College’s men’s and women’s soccer team are pleased to roll back the curtain this week on their new soccer stadium.

The soccer stadium at Miller Athletic Complex has undergone a summer-long facelift, installing lights, bleachers, press box, scoreboard and new team dugouts.

The official opening of the stadium is Friday, Aug. 15, for a Lancer soccer doubleheader. The men’s team will host FC Indiana at 7 p.m., and the women will play Haiti’s Women’s National Team in an international friendly at 9 p.m.

“It has been a very exciting summer watching the entire project come together,” said Grace athletic director Chad Briscoe. “We’re thrilled for the campus and the community to enjoy these historic games on Friday night. I’ve been very impressed by all the moving parts to have the project come together, and I greatly appreciate all those who have played a part to see it completed.”

Gates on Friday will open at 5 p.m. A tailgate will be available for fans before the game with a $7 dinner starting at 5:30 p.m. The Grace student chapel band will have live music during the pregame festivities. An official opening of the field ceremony will take place prior to the men’s game’s kickoff.

“This is a historic moment for Grace Athletics, and we couldn’t be more excited about Friday night,” said Grace president Dr. Bill Katip. “This will have a tremendous impact on our campus for our student body and ultimately for the community. These games will be talked about for many years to come, and we look forward to everyone coming to celebrate with us.”

Lights at the Miller Athletic Complex will allow Grace to play its home games at night for the first time. Additionally, the press box will enable the home matches to be video streamed live for fans.

The men’s soccer team, under coach Matt Hotchkin, ranks sixth among current NAIA programs with 441 all-time victories. The women’s soccer team, under coach Michael Voss, has advanced to three consecutive NCCAA National Championships.

Senior-led Lancers Geared Up for 2014 Campaign

Monday, August 11th, 2014

2014 Grace Men's Soccer Team

Grace’s men’s soccer team enters the 2014 season with its most experienced side in coach Matt Hotchkin’s tenure. The Lancers will be driven by eight seniors who are hungry to end their final seasons in memorable fashion.

Excitement is mounting for the upcoming season, thanks in large part to stadium upgrades for the Lancers. The newly renovated Miller Athletic Complex features stadium lights, allowing Grace to play its home games at night for the first time this fall. The Lancers are taking full advantage of the new lights with nine home matches – eight under the lights.

“We have a lot of good things coming together for the program which is exciting,” Hotchkin said. “We’ve got a large senior class, a good incoming class and a new stadium. I’ve heard people in the community be excited to come out to the night games, so this should be a fun year.”

The returning senior class of Jacob Cole, Trent Smith, Dylan Andersen, Austin Altimus, Nikola Blazic, Ben Cahill, Gift Sibukome and Danilo Carnelos has reached two national tournaments in the past three years. Each senior has starting experience and will be counted on to provide steadiness and leadership to the squad.

Hotchkin believes this senior class has represented Grace College well and has firmly taken up the leadership role on the team. “The team had a 3.26 GPA last year, which ranked 11th in our sport, so they represent the school well when they put on that Lancer jersey. They have taken ownership of this team and really want to be successful and go out with a bang this year.”

Hotchkin has added a plethora of talented newcomers to the roster in hopes of fielding a deeper team than in previous years. After starting the 2013 season with a 5-2 record, Grace sputtered to a 7-8-2 finish due primarily to injuries and lack of depth. Consequently, Hotchkin brought in four transfers and six freshmen in an influx of talent.

At the goalkeeping position, incumbent starter Cole will be challenged by sophomore transfer Robbie Barnhill. Both goalies have good hands and are capable of making big saves, according to Hotchkin.

Defensively, the Lancers return an experienced core, anchored by All-Crossroads League honoree Justin Festa in the middle. He will be joined by Cahill, Altimus, Carnelos, Jon Sands, Zeb Lewis and junior transfer Nakilee Weni.

The midfield revolves around seniors Smith and Sibukome. The duo accounted for six assists and five goals last year. Other returners with starting experience in the middle include Blazic and Jon Christensen who combined for three goals and three assists in 2013.

The attacking front will be led by Kyle Hamlin. The junior has ripped off 14 goals over his first two seasons, including seven goals and two assists last year. Newcomers Sydney Ocran and Dominic Harris have impressed Hotchkin in the early portion of preseason because of their considerable pace and scoring talent. Altimus, who has netted 19 goals in his career, may also join the attacking rotation this fall.

Grace’s schedule will be challenging from the onset. The Lancers’ first official games will take place on a road trip to Colorado. The team will face three NCAA Div. II opponents over a four-day span in the team’s first official matches. Grace will return home for a four-game homestand starting Aug. 28 to help prepare for the traditionally tough Crossroads League lineup.

“Last year our schedule wasn’t tough enough to challenge us before the conference season,” Hotchkin said. “But this year will be consistently difficult. We’ll have more stress put on us early, so we’ll know exactly where we are at coming into the conference season.”

The Lancers will open up the Miller Athletic Complex on Aug. 15 in an exhibition against FC Indiana at 7 p.m. The match will mark Grace’s first game at home under the lights.

“Our broad goal for this season is to hold each other accountable in every area of life and push each other toward excellence on and off the field,” Hotchkin said. “This preseason will help us figure out some of our rotations and lineups. We are striving to play our system so well that other teams have to beat us at what we do.”