Archive for August 22, 2013

IU KOKOMO WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL CHRISTENS NEW COUGAR GYM WITH A PAIR OF VICTORIES

Indiana University Kokomo Cougars

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

For Indiana University Kokomo

KOKOMO, Ind. – It might be too early to talk about NAIA national championships or KIAC league titles, but after the IU Kokomo women’s volleyball team swept Rochester College in a doubleheader to christen the new Cougar Gym, expectations for the team took a step up. Playing in front of a packed house, the Cougars played the maximum 10 games over the course of two matches to start the season 2-0.

“This was a whole team effort,” said first-year IUK head coach Heather Hayes. “It was pretty fantastic. We called on people tonight who didn’t have a lot of playing time to come in and serve in crunch time – and they did their job.”

The Cougars took game one 21-25, 25-13, 25-19, 16-25, 15-9 and game two 25-20, 22-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-12.

“It was truly a collective effort and I couldn’t be more proud of how deep they had to dig to earn that first victory,” said Hayes. “That shows a ton of maturity and heart for such a young team.”

Moments after IUK Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight and Kokomo Schools Superintendent Jeff Hauswald cut the red ribbon to officially open Cougar Gymnasium, IUK freshman Teylor Rains (Martinsville, Ind./Martinsville) launched the first serve through the air and scored the first point on a Rochester error. Unfortunately, that would be the only lead the Cougars would have and the first set in the new gym went to the Warriors.

Set two was a different story. Tied at three, sophomore Megan Riley (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine) delivered a kill, Kokomo libero Lael Burrus (Denver, Ind./North Miami) fired an ace, freshman Kaley Harness (LaFontaine, Ind./Southwood) followed with a powerful kill and junior Shelby Spall (Kokomo, Ind./Western) blocked a shot. And just like that, the Cougars owned a 7-3 lead and never looked back.

“They all did their job,” said Hayes. “The whole team surprised me on how fast they were able to move. Tonight was just a team effort; it took every one of them to pull this out.”

The third set started much like the second. Kokomo trailed 5-3 until Rachel Allen (Lizton, Ind./Tri-West) and Harness delivered back-to-back kills to tie the game. With Allen serving, Kokomo scored eight consecutive points to take an 11-5 lead. The Warriors cut the lead to two (14-12), but four straight Rochester faults ended any chance of a comeback and Kokomo led the match 2-1.

“The name of the game tonight was serving,” said Hayes. “We played very disciplined tonight; it was great to watch. Serving is the name of our game, and when we lost the games we lost, it was because serving wasn’t very good. But we had a talk (during a break) about weak serving, and you see what happened. (The Warriors) fast offense wasn’t able to be as conductive against our serve.”

Rochester (0-2) won the fourth set with ease to set up a decisive fifth set – much to the delight of the nearly 500 spectators in Cougar Gym. The Warriors scored the first two points and led 7-5 before Allen scored on a kill down the sideline. Rochester faulted to tie the set and Harness provided another kill to give Kokomo the lead. Allen then provided her second long serving string of the night, scoring on six plays in-a-row to give the Cougars a 12-7 lead. Harness and Spall fired a pair of kills for the 13th and 14th points and Micayla Speidel (Columbus, Ind./Columbus East) provided the match winning shot to give Indiana University Kokomo its historic first win in Cougar Gym.

“With what we had coming back and what we recruited, we thought we had a chance to be good this year,” said Hayes. “I think we will have our ups and downs – but this was a heck of a way to start.”

The Cougars travel to Berea College on Aug. 24 to play matches against the host squad and Tennessee Wesleyan. They return home to Cougar Gym on Aug. 29 for a 4 p.m. match against Point Park University.

(Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana)

IU KOKOMO VOLLEYBALL OUTLOOK: NEW COACH, NEW LOOK SHOULD EQUAL NEW SUCCESS

Senior Leann Cook, junior Shelby Spall, freshman Kaitlyn Emery, junior Lael Burrus and sophomore Megan Riley look to lead the Lady Cougar volleyball squad in 2013.

Senior Leann Cook, junior Shelby Spall, freshman Kaitlyn Emery, junior Lael Burrus and sophomore Megan Riley look to lead the Lady Cougar volleyball squad in 2013.

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – For two seasons, the Indiana University Kokomo women’s volleyball team has found itself on the wrong end of experience and depth. At the same time the Lady Cougars were racking up one program first after another: First varsity contest, first program win, first NAIA contest and first NAIA win. Now, with a new coach and a new attitude, the program will be looking for its first winning season while also participating in conference play for the first time.

With only six returning players, first year Cougars coach Heather Hayes knows she has her hands full as the university joins the competitive Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. But she is extremely optimistic in how her team will perform on the court.

“Our team is full of a lot of new faces,” said Hayes. “We have 13 players, but only six return from last year. But I expect our team to be highly competitive this season. I think that is the biggest change fans will see is our competitiveness. If we all stay healthy, I think we will break some IUK records this year.”

Hayes noted that the depth and talent of this year’s squad will be important to winning, and she is confident that those two areas are improved. Hayes said that as the program continues to grow, the Lady Cougars will have the opportunity to recruit better players who want to play in Kokomo.

“There is a lot of athleticism on our team this year,” said Hayes, who was an Indiana All-Star during her playing days at Frankfort High School. “From top to bottom, we have a lot of players who can play a lot of positions. I feel that if our best player is struggling, we have players on the bench who will be able to step in and fill in that role – that is a very nice option for us.”

Hayes said one thing the team will need to overcome is a lack of size. The tallest player on the roster is second-year player Megan Riley at 6-0. Six players come in a 5-9 and two are 5-8.

“We are very undersized,” said Hayes. “I think we are in a good position because we are athletic and competitive. But we will have to get over our lack of size.”

Third-year returning libero Lael Burrus is excited about the changes surrounding the volleyball program – especially with the addition of the Cougar Gymnasium as the new home of IUK athletics

“I have been here from the beginning as a freshman, so I have played at Northwestern (High School) and Maple Crest (Middle School),” said Burrus of not having a true home court until this year. “So I am super excited with the fitness center and the gym – I think it will be great.”

With seven newcomers, Burrus said the squad has gelled nicely.

“I am excited for our freshman,” she said. “I think every one of them is great. We are working hard and are getting along amazingly. I am also excited to be in a conference. I think we can compete this year – I am just ready to go.”

Burrus, a North Miami High School graduate, is ready to play in the new gym – and she thinks the community will really enjoy the new Home of the Cougars.

“I have always been thankful for our fans. Whether it is Northwestern or Maple Crest, we always have a nice home. But with our own home, it is something we can be prideful in. And I think it will draw even more and we are all more excited about the new gym.”

Leann Cook, the squad’s lone senior who transferred to IUK last year but could not compete, likes the chemistry of the new-look Lady Cougars.

“From when I transferred in last year to now, there is so much more than a unity – not just in the volleyball team but in the whole athletic program,” said Cook, a Martinsville native. “We are going to be great. Practices are just competitive and I think that will really help.”

When asked what she brings to the program, Cook said, “Uniqueness. Lael has been the leader for three years. But I have played at other schools and I am kind of an ‘everywhere’ person; a utility player.”

Megan Riley, a sophomore from New Palestine, is also thrilled about where the team is going.

“The team we have this year can not be compared to the team we had last year; it is a night and day difference,” said the middle hitter. “It is like a whole new school came in. It is like we are a whole new school on the map – this is going to make us big. People are going to say, ‘IU Kokomo, yeah, I have heard of them.’ In past years that did not happen. I feel like this year people will know who we are.”

Freshman Kaitlyn Emery, a Frankfort native, agrees that this year’s Cougar volleyball team should be exciting to watch.

“I agree 100-percent with Megan – this is going to be IUK’s turnaround season in sports,” she said. “I am excited to be a part of this. I think we have all come together really well. This is going to be fun.”

“I am excited to have a fellow Hot Dog join our program,” said Hayes. “Kaitlyn understands me as a coach, having played for me before, and will be an asset when trying to establish a similar culture at IU Kokomo. I am grateful that Kaitlyn wants to join our program and help build Cougar volleyball tradition.”

The Cougars 2013 volleyball season kicks off with a tailgate party at 5:30 on August 21 in the parking lot of the new Cougar Gymnasium, located behind Kokomo’s Memorial Gymnasium in the old swimming pool area. The inaugural game at Cougar Gym starts at 7 p.m. with a doubleheader against Rochester College from Detroit.

HOWARD COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME UNVEILS 2013 CLASS OF INDUCTEES

Howard County Sports Hall of Fame - Color

The Howard County Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to announce its 2013 class of inductees (alphabetical order):

TY CALLOWAY

Baseball: 36-year coach at Western High School where he also played; 2012 IHSAA Class 3A state champion and 2013 Class 3A Final Four; Howard County record 662 wins, 310 losses; two-time Indiana coach of the year; 16 sectional and conference titles; coached eight Indiana All-Stars.

ART HAMMOND

Athlete: First winner of the Eastern High School E Blanket; three-year football starter; 18-9-1 record during football career; rushed 690 yards junior year and UPI honorable mention all-state (injured as a  senior); state qualifier and school record holder in shot put; played football at Indiana Central.

DAVE KITCHELL

Contributor: Sports editor of the Kokomo Tribune from 1980-2010; 1997 IHSAA Distinguished Media Service Award; 2001 Hoosier State Press Association, best sports columnist; 2008 member of the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.

PAT KUBLY

Swimming: Four-time individual state champion at Kokomo High School; won the IHSAA 200-yard IM state championship in 1963 and 1965; won the IHSAA 100-yard backstroke in 1965 and 1966; at Indiana State finished fourth in NCAA College Division Nationals.

CARROLL ODOM

Track and Field: Three-time state champion at Kokomo High School; won the IHSAA 220-yard dash state championship in a state record time in 1927; won the IHSAA broad jump and was a member of the 880-yard state championship relay team in 1928.

KYLEE (WELLS) RETRUM

Diving: State champion at Western High School; won the IHSAA 1-meter diving state championship in 2000; at Tennessee 2001 Southeastern Conference freshman diver of the year; three-time college All-American; finished fifth, ninth and 11th during NCAA diving career; 2003 SEC champion.

JAMES “TOD” SLOAN

Horse Racing: Trailblazing horse jockey from Kokomo in late 1800’s; popularized the “forward seat” style of riding a horse which is now the standard position; is the Yankee Doodle Dandy in George M. Cohan musical Little Johnny Jones; won several prestigious races in America and Europe.

This is the 11th class inducted into the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame. The 2013 class will be inducted during the 2013 HCSHF Induction Banquet on October 26, 2013, at the Ivy Tech Kokomo Event & Conference Center. For more information, contact HCSHF President Steve Broo at (765) 860-2824 or Vice President Dean Hockney at (765) 271-0787. Ticket information will be released at a later date.