Volleyball wins big
Sep17

Volleyball wins big

The Crusader volleyball team put in the best season in school history last year on their way to a 29-8 record, and the program’s first berth in the NCAA national tournament. This year, the team has its sights set even higher. The Cru began the season receiving votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 Poll, but now find themselves ranked at No. 23 after a strong start.   The team kicked things off by sweeping all three matches of the U.T.-Dallas Labor Day Tournament Aug. 29-30. On the first day of the tournament, the Cru pulled off a tough 3-2 win against Southwestern University before sweeping three sets in a match against the University of Dallas. UMHB then earned an impressive 3-1 win the next day against No. 13 Trinity.   With one senior and five juniors, head coach Rob Frost believes the Cru has the experience and leadership it needs have a successful season.   “The team gets along so well and everyone is playing with a selfless attitude. It’s something we’ve worked on and they have really taken it and made it their own team dynamic,” he said. “Most of the time, we are smaller than the other ranked teams we compete against but we outwork them.”   The competition didn’t get any easier as UMHB traveled to Thousand Oaks, Calif. to participate in the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational Sept. 5-6. The Cru split the first day of the tournament with a 3-1 loss to No. 4 California Lutheran followed by a 3-1 win against Chapman. The next day, the team swept Occidental before falling 3-2 to No. 6 Emory.   While the veteran players are the heart of the team, Frost said he’s getting production from top to bottom.   “We are starting some younger players who are quickly catching on to our style of play,” he said. “The team has been doing very well sustaining our level of play and improving our consistency against very tough competition.”   During the tournament, junior hitter Cheyenne Dowdey broke the school career record for block assists.   “Breaking the block assist record feels amazing. I work really hard to bring a strong defensive presence to the net, and to control the offense of the other team the best I can,” Dowdey said.   Frost was pleased with the way his team competed in its first two tournaments against some of the top-ranked teams in the nation.   “Our returners know how to win and have done an excellent job going 5-2 with wins over Southwestern … Trinity with our only loses being close matches with the...

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Just another system quarterback

Johnny Manziel has taken the sports world by storm. The former Aggie quarterback defied the odds and became the first freshman in history to win the coveted Heisman Trophy. Manziel captivated fans with his athleticism, all-or-nothing style of play and his controversial antics— both off and on the field. However, by comparing Manziel to another recent controversial quarterback, Tim Tebow, a case can be made that “Johnny Football” may soon become “Johnny Unemployed.”   It may seem farfetched to draw similarities between Tim Tebow to Johnny Manziel — one spends his free time preaching the gospel while the other indulges in ways of the world — but their style of play combined with polarizing personalities makes it the perfect comparison. They each even have their own signature celebration with Manziel’s “money” sign and Tebow’s “Tebowing” pose.   The Cleveland Browns selected Manziel with the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft and expect him to be their quarterback of the future. If his career becomes anything like the circus that was Tim Tebow’s, Manziel will be fighting an uphill battle.   Like Manziel, Tebow was a dynamic, mobile quarterback in college. He became the first college player ever to run and throw for at least 20 touchdowns, each en route to winning a Heisman of his own in 2007. He was a part of two National Championships at Florida and is considered by many to be one of the greatest college players of all time. However, Tebow’s success didn’t exactly translate to the National Football League.   After being drafted by the Denver Broncos, it soon became evident that Tebow didn’t fit the mold of a modern NFL quarterback. In an era where NFL offenses are focused on rhythmic passing, Tebow’s style of improvisation made it feel like he was always trying to keep his head above water.   In 2011, Tebow got his shot when the Broncos struggled early in the season going just 1-4. He would lead them to a 7-4 record the rest of the way and a thrilling overtime win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs. Tebow proved he could win, but his 46.5 completion percentage left much to be desired. That offseason, Denver signed veteran Peyton Manning and the Tebow experiment drew to a close.   There’s no reason to expect Johnny Manziel’s career to play out any differently. Defensive ends in the NFL are stronger and faster than in college and quarterbacks who can’t stand in the pocket and make strong throws get eaten alive.   Off the field, Tebow was always in the news. The outspoken Christian was often the topic...

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World Cup Spurs summer sports excitment
Aug27

World Cup Spurs summer sports excitment

Who says summer is a bad time for sports? With an NBA Finals rematch, an unpredictable World Cup and a brewing rivalry between two Texas MLB teams, the summer of 2014 provided non-stop entertainment.   Last year’s NBA finals saw a heavy-weight bout between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. After Miami won the seven game series to claim their second straight title, many thought the Spurs’ historic dynasty had come to an end. They were wrong.   While it’s true the likes of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are reaching the twilight of their careers, what most people don’t realize is that the Spurs aren’t built like other NBA teams. They don’t go after the big-name free agents who are only concerned with making money and posterizing the opposition. Instead, the Spurs search for players who can fill a particular role and who place winning above being the center of attention.   So when LeBron and his boys rolled into the Alamo City expecting to win another championship, the Spurs came at them with a clean, fundamental style of basketball that the Heat had no answer to. Kawhi Leonard emerged as a star, and San Antonio took the series four games to one en route to their fifth NBA championship.   As the eyes of America were on the hardwood, the eyes of the world were on Brazil for the FIFA World Cup. The U.S. Men’s National team seemed doomed from the start as they were placed in the “group of death,” consisting of world powerhouses Germany  and Portugal as well as Ghana, who knocked the Americans out of the tournament in 2010.   However, the team wasn’t going to go down without a fight. After losing star striker Jozy Altidore to a hamstring injury in the opening minutes of the USMNT’s first game against Ghana, the resilient Americans fought back and managed to advance to the round-of-16, where they fell just short against Belgium, despite a heroic performance from goalkeeper Tim Howard.   Even though their run ended prematurely, the U.S. team made themselves known in a culture where they’ve long been considered outsiders. And, in a sport where flopping and faking injuries has become a strategic part of the game, the Americans got kicked in the mouth (literally) and had the fortitude to keep pushing forward. Soccer will never be as popular in the states as it is abroad, but this summer, the USMNT gained new fans throughout the country and a new respect throughout the world.   Back on the home front, things look bleak for the two Texas teams of Major...

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Cru baseball rounding out the season
May06

Cru baseball rounding out the season

THE BELLS — The Crusader baseball team may have cooled off a bit from its scorching 13-2 start, but with just one series remaining  in the regular season, the team is still very much in contention for a conference tournament.   The team endured a four-game losing skid in early April before bouncing back to take two games apiece in series against the University of Texas at Dallas and Hardin-Simmons University. An 11-1 win April 11 against HSU in Abilene pulled the Cru out of its funk.   The following day, the team took the first game of a doubleheader  with a four-run rally in the seventh to seal a 6-5 victory. The Cru jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second game, but the Cowboys stormed back, and handed the Cru a 7-4 loss.   The team returned home the following weekend and notched two wins against ETBU by scores of 3-2 and 4-3 before falling 8-4 in the third game of that series as well. Junior infielder Tripp Reeves said the wins were a way for the team to get back on the right track. “I think it was good for our team to bounce back and go 4-2 in conference after a rough weekend against UTD,” he said. “Although we would have liked to have gotten a series sweep against one of those teams, I feel like we’ve done a good job recently getting back to playing the type of ball we are capable of.”   The Cru added to its win total April 22 with an impressive 6-5 walkoff victory against 4th ranked Trinity University.   After facing an early three-run deficit, the team battled back to a tie game at five apiece in the sixth inning.  Rob Loewe doubled in the ninth and would later score the winning run off the bat of Heath Spencer.   While the win against Trinity could serve as a momentum boost, junior pitcher Ian Ekery said the team  just needs to keep doing what it’s been doing all season long “Hopefully, beating Trinity will give us that little extra push to get us through these next couple of weeks,” Ekery said. “At this point in the season there’s nothing new that can be introduced or changed that we haven’t been doing.”   With just one series remaining against first-place Concordia, the Cru have a chance to end the season on top of the ASC standings. “This ASC conference is a very difficult one to play in because any team can beat any team, and it doesn’t matter if they are last or first,” sophomore outfielder Zack Whiddon...

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Crusader baseball receives votes in top 25
Apr02

Crusader baseball receives votes in top 25

The Crusader baseball team is off to its best start since 1999. Even though the team has been plagued with injuries over the first half of the season, a recent six-game win streak propelled the Cru to a 19th ranking in the first American Baseball Coaches Association poll of the season. The Cru pulled off a three-game sweep of Mississippi College March 14 and 15. The team took the first game of the series in a 4-3 contest in which junior Tripp Reese hit an RBI single in the sixth to put the Cru ahead for good. In the second game of  a doubleheader, the Choctaws took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth before  the Cru rallied back to claim a 4-3 walkoff victory off a hit from sophomore Chase Burrow. Head Coach Ben Shipp said the wins were proof of the team’s resiliency. “Our guys really battled all three games, but the first two were classics,” he said. “Clutch at-bats in the last innings and tough defense were key to the wins.” Junior Ian Ekery gave up two runs off six hits in 5.1 innings. Even though he didn’t feel he was at his best, Ekery put his team in a good position with his performance. “Personally, on the mound, I didn’t think like I had my best stuff, and I was constantly fighting an uphill battle all night but as a starting pitcher, your job is to give your a team a chance to win,” he said. “That’s all I was trying to do. Our guys are just so resilient.” The Cru completed the sweep with an 8-0 win fueled by a complete game shutout from senior Jordan Mattke. Mattke held the Choctaws to just four hits and struck out six in a performance that gained him ASC Co-Pitcher of the Week honors. “I felt like establishing the strike zone early and changing speeds was a huge key to my success,” Mattke said. “I was locating well with all of my pitches, and that makes it difficult on hitters. Burrow said the sweep shows how the team has matured over the past year. It was “a good illustration of how tough mentally we are compared to last year,” he said. “We have a different mindset when things aren’t going our way or when our back is against the wall.” The team’s win streak came to an end March 18th in a 5-4 loss to the hands of #1 ranked Trinity. The Cru grabbed a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, but weren’t able to hold on as the Tigers put up...

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