Grace Spikers Earn Pair of All-American Honors

December 10th, 2014

To wrap up Grace’s sterling 2014 campaign, the Lady Lancers’ volleyball team picked up two All-American accolades from the NCCAA.

Senior setter Ellie Harp was named NCCAA/AVCA First Team All-American. She was also earned a spot on the six-player 2014 NCCAA All-Tournament Team after helping the Lady Lancers to the national semifinals. Harp’s 1,547 assists in her final campaign ranked seventh for a single season, and her career total of 2,619 assists was good for fourth among Grace’s all-time leaders.

Senior outside hitter Calah Kruse was named NCCAA Second Team All-American. She graduated fourth in Grace’s history with 1,924 digs and seventh with 1,173 kills.

Additionally, Hannah Clemmons was the prestigious NCCAA Susan R. Hellings Award, given to one student-athlete per year. Clemmons, along with Alix Underwood and Jessica Scherb were all named NAIA and NCCAA Scholar-Athletes. Clemmons finished her career No. 3 on Grace’s career digs leaders with 1,960 digs.

The Lady Lancers (30-12) finished the season with 30 wins for the second time since 1996, reaching the NCCAA National Championships for the third time in four years. Grace also advanced to the NCCAA Final Four for the second time in four seasons under head coach Andria Harshman.

Grace Holds Sportsmanship Summit for Northern Lakes Conference

December 9th, 2014

Pictured is the 2014 Sportsmanship Summit attendees from the Northern Lakes Conference

Grace College and Director of Athletics Chad Briscoe welcomed student-athletes from the high schools of the Northern Lakes Conference for a Sportsmanship Summit on Tuesday.

Ten student-athletes from eight NLC schools attended the conference, which was designed to educate student-athletes about sportsmanship and character training in athletics.

“We are pleased to be a part of building character at the high-school level through the Sportsmanship Summit,” Briscoe said. “We hope it served as a great opportunity to educate and reinforce character education and to help promote the importance of sportsmanship for each student-athlete.”

Students from Concord, Elkhart Memorial, Goshen, Northridge, NorthWood, Plymouth, Warsaw and Wawasee high schools spent the day together working in groups to discuss and challenge one another in sportsmanship and character-building opportunities in the athletic realm. The students worked in team-initiative opportunities to build camaraderie among the schools in the conference.

“The schools in the NLC are really supportive of one another. Sometimes that gets lost in the heat of competition on Friday and Saturday nights,” said Warsaw athletic director Dave Anson. “Efforts like this truly help our student-athletes and leaders continue emphasizing the important and lasting messages that athletics can send. Thank you to Grace for helping us as a conference meet the need for character emphasis in our schools and communities.”

The Sportsmanship Summit featured sessions from IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Sandy Searcy, Grace College Vice President Jim Swanson and Briscoe.

Warsaw sophomore Page Desenberg commented: “In our society, there is a lot of attitude and ego that’s all about me, me, me. Today helped bring to light the importance of decision-making and how we can have a big impact on kids looking up to us.”

Wawasee sophomore Stephen Possell added: “We were reminded today that sportsmanship is a goal that each team should have. The positive attitude and feedback student-athletes can bring to our schools can make a difference.”

Men’s Basketball Slips in OT to Goshen

December 8th, 2014

A wild Crossroads League game went against Grace’s men’s basketball team on  Saturday as Goshen scored late to win 74-73 in overtime.

Grace made a massive comeback to force overtime against the Maple Leafs (8-3, 2-1 CL) and went ahead in the final 10 seconds of overtime. But Goshen made the decisive play, winning the game with four seconds to play.

Despite Goshen hitting 54 percent of its shots in the first period, Grace still went into the halftime locker room tied at 34-34.

Goshen quickly asserted control in the second half and held a lead for nearly the entire 20 minutes. The Maple Leafs held a seemingly comfortable 67-57 lead with 4:48 remaining. But Grace made a remarkable rally, ending regulation with a 12-2 run including the game-tying basket from Niko Read.

In overtime, Grace trailed by two with less than a minute to play. Logan Irwin then stepped up to bury the go-ahead 3-pointer with 10 seconds on the clock, only to see Goshen’s Stefon Luckey race down the court and score the game winner with four ticks remaining. The Maple Leafs escaped the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center with the one-point victory.

For the game, Grace struggled with its shot at 38 percent compared to 49 percent for Goshen. The Lancers did have nine 3-pointers to their credit, including four treys from Read and three from Brandon Vanderhegghen. Read and Irwin finished with team-leading 16 points apiece, and Irwin added 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.

Caleb Featherston had a double-double of 14 points and 10 boards, Vanderhegghen finished with nine points and Kyle Fillman added eight.

The Lancers have one home game remaining in 2014. Grace hosts Indiana Tech on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before heading to Florida the following week for a pair of games.

Grace Falls in PK’s in NCCAA Title Game

December 8th, 2014

Grace’s women’s soccer team came up just short in its pursuit of a national championship, falling in a penalty shootout to Lee University on Saturday.

The Lady Lancers played one of its most complete matches of the season against Lee to cap off a strong performance in the 2014 NCCAA National Championships.

The game was also the final one in the sterling senior class of Holly Bennett, Kaitlan Wiles and Kelsey Christner. They graduate as the winningest class in program history at 62-23-11 and are also the first class to reach four consecutive national tournaments.

Saturday night’s championship match had all the drama and excitement that was fitting for a title bout. Grace struck first in the first half off a majestic effort from Meredith Hollar. The sophomore forward created some space from a defender at the top of the penalty box. She then unleashed a vicious 22-yard rocket that crashed into the upper 90 of the net in the 21st minute.

Jordan Hairgrove nearly added Grace’s second goal with a shot from the 18-yard line that was saved. The teams entered halftime with Grace ahead 1-0.

A few minutes into the second half, Grace nearly scored again as a free kick from Heather Martin resulted in a scrum in the penalty box. But Grace was unable to pounce on the loose ball.

With 38 minutes remaining in the contest, play was halted due to a malfunction in one of the stadium’s light poles. The issue caused a 20-minute delay.

Lee finally broke onto the scoreboard in the 81st minute, tying the game 1-1. The final 10 minutes of action after Lee’s game-tying goal was full of back-and-forth play. With less than three minutes remaining, Mallory Rondeau got free on the right side of the penalty box. She squared a pass to Holly Bennett, but her shot went wide of goal.

The overtime periods were just as evenly played as regulation. Mimi Lozano fired the best shot for Grace in the first overtime period, weaving in from the left side of the field to take a shot on goal. The Flames nearly scored eight minutes into overtime with a cross in front of Grace’s goal, but Lee’s volley sailed high of the crossbar.

Grace had two golden chances to score in the second overtime session. But the Lady Lancers could not convert on either a corner kick or a free kick from the left side of the field.

After neither team could separate itself after 110 minutes, the match went into a penalty shootout. Lee won the coin toss to take the first kicks. Both teams made their first tries, but Lee took a 2-1 advantage after Grace’s second kick went wide. Abby Schue then came up with a big save, and Kaitlan Wiles’s next kick tied the score at 2-2.

Each team missed one more shot during their first five attempts, sending the game to sudden death. Mallory Rondeau and Meredith Matson each converted their shots in do-or-die scenarios, but Lee secured the national title with a save on Grace’s next kick.

Meghan Wiles, Carianne Sobey and Mallory Rondeau were named to the All-Tournament Team, and Abby Schue was named the tournament’s Outstanding Defensive Player.

Grace ended the season by tying the program record for most wins in a season with 17. They also advanced to a national championship game for the first time in team history.

Grace Spikers End Season at NCCAA Semifinals

December 8th, 2014

pictured is Sierra Smith (left) rising for a kill against Trinity Christian on Saturday

The 2014 season for Grace’s volleyball team ended in the semifinals of the NCCAA National Championships on Saturday morning.

The Lady Lancers fell in five sets to No. 1 seed Trinity Christian, wrapping up the season with a record of 30-12.

The loss ends the careers of seniors Calah Kruse, Hannah Clemmons and Ellie Harp. They finished as the first class to reach three national championships in a four-year span, following trips to NCCAA Nationals in 2011 and 2012. They also reached the 30-win plateau for only the second time since 1996.

Kaitlin Kerrigan was instrumental in Grace’s opening set victory with five kills. Grace was behind early 10-7, but the Lady Lancers rallied to take the lead 14-13 on a block point by Grace Woolsey and Ellie Harp. The Trolls (37-10) were unable ###to taste the lead the rest of the set, losing 25-21.

Trinity responded aptly in the next game with its best set of the morning. The Trolls rolled to a 25-16 win to even the match, pounding out 21 kills on just two errors.

The third set proved to be pivotal. The teams exchanged small runs throughout much of the game, ultimately leading to a 20-20 tie. Grace used a pair of 4-0 spurts earlier in the set, but it was the Trolls’ turn to make a run at the end. Trinity ended the match by scoring the final five points, winning 25-20.

Tori Bontrager helped Grace get back on track in the fourth game, claiming an 8-0 lead on Bontrager’s serving from the onset. Trinity refused to fade, however, and remarkably tied the game at 16-16. Grace recovered to pull ahead 20-17, and the 20th point – a solo block from Kari Feddema – forced a Trolls’ timeout. The timeout worked as Trinity quickly tied the score then went on top 23-22 with back-to-back blocks.

But a well-placed timeout from head coach Andria Harshman allowed the Lady Lancers to regain composure, ending the match at 25-23 with three straight points to force a fifth set.

The teams traded points during an action-packed tiebreaker set. Trinity gained the first separation at 7-4, resulting in a timeout. Grace was unable to pierce through the Trolls’ lead and was forced to use their second timeout trailing 11-7. But Trinity would not be denied a place in the championship match, ultimately winning 15-10.

Calah Kruse recorded her fifth double-double in five matches at NCCAA Nationals, tallying team-highs 15 kills and 25 digs. Kaitlin Kerrigan finished with 15 kills and 11 digs, and Tori Bontrager had 10 kills. Ellie Harp recorded 50 assists, 12 digs and 7 kills, Hannah Clemmons had 18 digs, and Sierra Smith had seven kills.

Women’s Soccer Wins 3-0 in NCCAA Semifinals

December 8th, 2014

pictured is junior Meghan Wiles during the first half against Houghton

Grace’s women’s soccer team moved one step away from its first national championship, dispatching Houghton 3-0 on Friday at NCCAA Nationals.

The Lady Lancers (17-4-3) will square off with Lee in the NCCAA National Championship on Saturday at 5:45 p.m. in Grace’s first title game appearance. Lee defeated Campbellsville 3-0 in the other semifinal match on Friday.

“I thought it was a very complete performance from us. We got a lot of production out of a lot of different people. Getting in and out of possession was very good for us. We were good when we were out of possession defensively, which actually created the two opportunities at the end,” said Grace head coach Michael Voss. “The girls will be ready [tomorrow]. This game was very physical, but it didn’t take it all out of them. They’ll be ready to go.”

Houghton started the game with energy, firing two shots in the opening minutes. But the half soon evened out as the teams got adjusted to each other. Grace began to flex its possession muscles midway through the half, maintaining pressure on the Highlanders’ half of the field for long stretches of play.

Grace’s possession produced a number of shot opportunities, including first-half attempts from Holly Bennett, Meredith Hollar and Jordan Hairgrove. The best chance of the half for the Lady Lancers came in the closing five minutes. Heather Martin’s cross was flicked on at goal by a header from Kaitlan Wiles, but Wiles’s attempt was saved from close range.

Similar to Grace’s first two games at NCCAA Nationals, the Lady Lancers came to life in the second half – this time with three goals.

The first goal came off the left foot of Carianne Sobey. The junior midfielder faked a move into the middle of the penalty box, beat her defender to the left and then fired the game’s first goal at the 59:17 mark.

Mallory Rondeau continued her torrid pace with Grace’s second goal 14 minutes later. Rondeau scored from a similar angle to Sobey’s goal on the left side. She has now scored in every match of NCCAA Nationals and has four goals and an assist in three games.

Rondeau nearly had a second goal on the left side, but her low shot was denied by the goalpost.

Sobey added an assist to her tally for the match late in the contest. A short corner resulted in Sobey’s low pass to Maile Grout, and Grout seized on the opportunity by blasting her shot inside the right post to make the score 3-0.

Abby Schue picked up her third shutout of the tournament and 14th of the season as Grace’s goalkeeper. Meredith Matson, Faith Voehringer, Heather Martin and Erica Manchess limited the Highlanders to nine shots in the semifinal match.

Grace’s win on Friday also gives the Lady Lancers 17 victories on the season – tying the program record for wins in a single season (17-5-3 in 2012).

Grace Wins Quarterfinal Match Over Oklahoma Wesleyan

December 8th, 2014

pictured is Calah Kruse rising up for an attack on Friday

Grace’s volleyball team earned its way to Championship Saturday at NCCAA Nationals with a 3-1 quarterfinal win over Oklahoma Wesleyan.

The Lady Lancers (30-11) will make their second appearance in four years in the NCCAA Semifinals against No. 1 seed Trinity Christian on Saturday at 10 a.m. The championship match will be held at 3:30 p.m. Grace also played Trinity Christian in the 2011 NCCAA Semifinals, falling in five sets.

Grace also lost to Colorado Christian 3-1 in the final match of pool play on Friday morning.

Apart from a hiccup in the second set, Grace had little trouble with Oklahoma Wesleyan in the quarterfinals. Grace finished with 19 more kills, four more block points and a hitting percentage of .298 as a team in the 3-1 victory.

The Lady Lancers had double-digit kills in each set, including 14 kills in the opening 25-18 victory. The second set went to extra points and was tightly contested throughout the game. Grace fought off one set point with back-to-back kills by Ellie Harp and Calah Kruse. The Lady Lancers then served two set points at 26-25 and 27-26, but the Eagles rallied for the 29-27 victory.

Grace came out firing in the third set and ran away with the 25-15 win. The fourth set was just as strong for Grace at 25-16 to clinch their berth into the semifinals.

Calah Kruse finished with her fourth double-double in as many games at NCCAA Nationals with 18 kills and 19 digs. Kaitlin Kerrigan pounded out 15 kills on 37 attempts, and Sierra Smith had 12 kills on a .320 percentage. Ellie Harp passed out 51 assists with nine digs, and Sara Miller and Annie Salazar had eight digs apiece.

In the opening match of the day, Grace fell to third-seeded Colorado Christian 3-1 to close out pool play. The Lady Lancers lost 25-18, 21-25, 25-22 and 25-15.

Calah Kruse notched a double-double with 11 kills and 17 digs, and Hannah Clemmons had a match-high 23 digs. Tori Bontrager and Kaitlin Kerrigan tallied seven kills apiece, and Sara Miller had 11 digs.

Grace Wins Twice at NCCAA Nationals

December 5th, 2014

The 2014 NCCAA National Championships started on a high note for Grace’s volleyball team. The No. 2 seed Lady Lancers (29-10) swept McMurry and Oakland City on Friday to open up pool play.

In Grace’s opening set at NCCAA Nationals, the Lady Lancers pounded out an enthused 25-14 win. McMurry was held to just four kills in the set while Grace enjoyed 15 kills on a .240 percentage. The set ended on a kill from Sierra Smith.

McMurry recovered in the second game and seemed on the verge of leveling the match. The War Hawks jumped out to a 6-2 lead and stayed in front until the final stages. The Lady Lancers trailed 22-15 before mounting a massive rally. Grace won 10 of the next 11 points to seize the improbable 25-23 victory. Kaitlin Kerrigan and Ellie Harp were instrumental in Grace’s comeback as Kerrigan had four kills in that stretch and Harp added two in a row.

In the third set, Grace hopped in front 9-6 to force an early timeout from McMurry. The War Hawks burned their second timeout at the midway point, still trailing 15-9. McMurry clawed back to within four points of Grace’s lead, but it was not enough. Harp ended the sweep with kills on back-to-back points en route to a 25-18 win.

Kerrigan and Calah Kruse led all players with nine kills apiece, and Kruse added 14 digs. Harp had 30 assists, 5 kills, 3 aces and 8 digs, Tori Bontrager tallied seven kills and four block assists, and Hannah Clemmons led all players with 18 digs.

Grace could not have started the second match of the day against Oakland City any better. The Lady Lancers opened the set 10-0 on the sterling serving of Tori Bontrager, forcing Oakland City to use both of its timeouts. The Oaks managed to fight back within six points of Grace’s margin at 19-13, but Grace held on for a 25-15 win.

The second set was much tighter with the sides trading points most of the way. With the score knotted at 20-20, a big block point from Calah Kruse and Grace Woolsey swung momentum Grace’s way, and Woolsey ended the set 25-21 with a kill.

Oakland City pulled in front 19-14 in the late stages of the third set, thanks to a 9-1 run. But Grace showed some fight and tied the score at 22-22. The Oaks scored the next point, but Kruse carried the Lady Lancers to victory over the next three rallies. Kruse had a kill and two blocks, teaming up with Woolsey on the final block point to secure the sweep at 25-23.

Kruse posted her second double-double of the day with 11 kills and 15 digs, and Sierra Smith pounded out 11 kills on 15 attempts. Grace Woolsey had 8 kills, 2 solo blocks and 4 block assists, Ellie Harp tallied 33 assists and seven kills, and Jessica Scherb had a season-best with 12 digs.

The Lady Lancers conclude pool play on Friday at 10 a.m. against Colorado Christian. The eight-team field will then be reseeded for the single-elimination tournament. The quarterfinals take place Friday afternoon with the semifinals and championship held on Saturday.

Lady Lancers Charge into NCCAA Semifinals

December 4th, 2014

Pictured is Mallory Rondeau (center) celebrating her first-minute goal on Wednesday with (left) Kaitlyn Hayes, Meredith Hollar, Meredith Matson, Holly Bennett, and Carianne Sobey.

Grace’s women’s soccer team put in its second straight dominating performance on Wednesday with a 3-0 victory over Mid-America Christian to close out pool play at NCCAA Nationals.

The Lady Lancers (16-4-3) will play in Friday’s NCCAA national semifinal game at 3:30 p.m. as the No. 1 seed. The championship match is slated for Saturday at 5:45 p.m.

Mallory Rondeau sparked Grace with two first-half goals, and Kaitlan Wiles added the third.

“We met our objectives going into [today’s game]. We definitely wanted to win 3-0 and put ourselves in prime position for the No. 1 seed. As far as our playing, we could’ve been a little more polished, but we scored early and it’s good. I thought we were very threatening in attack and really got after it,” said head coach Michael Voss. “We’ve been enacting this plan all year long in trying to get through a national tournament. We’re excited to be there, and we’re going to attack it like we want to win it.”

Grace shocked Mid-America Christian with a goal in the first minute of play on Wednesday. Kaitlyn Hayes found Rondeau open through the Evangels’ defense. Rondeau beat the goalkeeper with ease for a goal just 21 seconds into the match.

Ten minutes into the match, Grace thought it had scored again. Hayes picked out Meredith Hollar behind the backline, resulting in another one-on-one situation with the goalie. Hollar poked her shot under the charging goalkeeper and into the back of the net, but her goal was waved off for offside.

Minutes later, another strong buildup from Carianne Sobey and Rondeau resulted in a left-footed shot by Hayes that whisked just wide of goal.

Grace continued to assault MACU’s net, tallying nine shots before halftime. The Lady Lancers eventually found their second goal off a penalty kick. Rondeau was pulled down inside the penalty box and was awarded a PK. She completed her first-half brace in the 24th minute on the ensuing kick.

The half ended with the Lady Lancers leading 2-0. Grace held a 9-4 advantage in shots.

In the 67th minute, Grace made the score 3-0. Sobey beat a defender on the right endline and centered a pass in the box to Kaitlan Wiles, and Wiles slotted her 12-yard shot inside the left goalpost.

With 19 minutes remaining, Grace nearly struck again. Hollar squared a pass to an open Sabina Meyers in front of goal, but Meyers’s first touch was too heavy which allowed MACU’s goalkeeper to make the save.

Meyers and Mimi Lozano put in good minutes in the second half on offense, keeping the pressure applied on the Evangels’ defense. Overall, Grace outshot MACU 11-1 in the second half and 20-5 for the match. The Lady Lancers had 11 shots on goal compared to just one for the Evangels.

Grace is advancing to its second consecutive NCCAA Semifinals after outscoring its opponents 7-0 in pool play. Grace also sits two wins away from breaking the program record for most wins in a season (17-5-3 in 2012).

NCCAA Tabs Clemmons as Prestigious Hellings Award Winner

December 4th, 2014

Pictured are (left) Grace president Dr. Bill Katip, Hannah Clemmons, Grace coach Andria Harshman, Grace athletic director Chad Briscoe at Wednesday's 2014 NCCAA National Volleyball Banquet.

At the NCCAA National Volleyball Championship Banquet, Grace senior libero Hannah Clemmons was named the 2014 Susan R. Hellings Award winner.

The Hellings Award is the highest individual honor handed out to volleyball student-athletes by the NCCAA, recognizing one individual each year for outstanding Christian character, athletic and academic achievement and community service.

Clemmons is the fourth Lady Lancer to win the award, following Rachel Bult (2011), Kate Millen (2000) and Marci Norris (1994).

Clemmons has been a four-year starter for Grace. She has helped the Lady Lancers to three national championships in her four seasons – the first time that feat has been accomplished in program history.

The senior from Muncie, Ind., enters the 2014 NCCAA National Championships with a team-leading 660 digs. Her 1,889 career digs ranks third all-time for Grace.

“Teams will follow great leadership, and we had that this year with Hannah. Coaches can give and speak leadership qualities all the time, but Hannah’s selfless, generous, humble and loving leadership allowed our team to develop and grow tremendously this year,” said Grace head coach Andria Harshman. “Hannah is the full package. She has grown over the past four years in her faith and is ready to attack the world for Christ. She is very deserving of this award.”

Clemmons will graduate in four years with an MBA and a Bachelor’s degree in Sport Marketing, maintaining a career GPA of 3.90. At Grace she was a Student Representative for the Measure of Grace initiative revealed by the college and was also the chairperson for the Executive Forum for the School of Business for three years.