Volleyball struggles; Men;s soccer ties on Friday

Mission accomplished.

Saint Mary head football coach Jay Osborne wanted to get his Spires off to a good start in 2016 and saw his team deliver a 42-0 win in North Dakota against Trinity Bible as the win jumpstarted the program to an 8-3 season.

Here’s hoping déjà vu comes to roost a year later.

The Spires, playing host to the same Trinity Bible Lions Saturday at Charles J. Berkel Memorial Stadium, scored early and often in an easy, 49-0 win to start the new campaign at 1-0.

Next week, the Spires host nationally-ranked Dakota Wesleyan as a part of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference-Great Plains Athletic Conference Challenge (KCAC/GPAC) at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

“Overall, we played quite well,” Osborne said. “After watching a little film, I believe we played fast and have somethings that we can improve on.  As far as a rating, I would just say that we are in a good starting position.

“The offense played together and made some strides that I hoped to see.  On film, we showed that we were on the same page in many areas.  There were some issues that we can get fixed.

This marks the second shutout for Coach Tim Brooks' defense.  It is against the same opponent, but It seemed to me that the talent level from Trinity Bible was better this year than last. Our defense did play fast and we got an opportunity to look at a number of people on that side of the ball that are competing for playing time.”  

USM gained 445 total yards to 203, gaining 155 on the ground and 290 through the air.

The Spires were flagged nine times for 64 yards and each team committed one turnover.

Junior quarterback Drew Cortez finished 13-for-18 with 269 yards and three touchdown passes, including a 42-yard toss to Bryan Barnhart on the first offensive play from scrimmage to go up 7-0 in the first 20 seconds of the game.

Cortez also connected with Isai Fernandez (44 yards) and Nick Holmes of Pleasant Ridge High School (35 yards) on scoring strikes).

Ben Harvey led the USM rushing attack with 64 yards on five rushes with three scoring runs.

Joseph Rodriguez also repped for the defense, recovering a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter.

Now, it’s time for a big step up for the Spires a week from now.

“We are not yet at full strength,” Osborne said. “We hope to have our entire team healthy, cleared and eligible to play next Saturday.  There has been a great deal of buzz about this game as it is the first night game in Spire history on campus.  The 6 p.m. kickoff will feature two of the top teams in the NAIA.  Our entire team is excited to compete at the highest level.”

ROUGH START for VOLLEYBALL

The USM Spires travelled to Marshall, Missouri to take part in the Missouri Valley Tournament and the new season started with a bit of a thud for second-year head coach Amy Refenes.

Against a solid field, the Spires dropped all four matches in Marshall, losing Friday to Missouri Valley (31-) and Cumberland (TN) (3-1) and Saturday against Park (MO) (3-0) and Avila University (3-2).

“We learned a lot about what we need to keep working on to make improvements,” Refenes said. “We have to keep raising our expectations and our abilities will continue to grow. Our confidence was shaky and I never think we really settled in and got into a rhythm.”

Kendall Nick (eight kills), Kaitlynn Lanier (six kills), Katy Koepke (20 digs) let the way against the hosts while the Spires struggled to hit only .074 while defending well to the tune of 66 digs.

Against Cumberlands, Nick (seven kills), Lanier (six kills), Maleka Benjamin (six kills) and Koepke (24 digs) let USM who were outhit .214 to negative-0.33.

In the loss against national powers Park, the Spires hit below .000 again and got seven kills from Benjamin in defeat.

The Spires led Avila 2-1 before dropping the final two sets, 25-11 and 15-12.

USM hit only .100 and were paced by Savannah Fillion (14 kills), Benjamin (10 kills) and Lanier (10 kills), while four players recorded double-digit numbers in digs.

Through four games, USM hit a paltry .038.

MEN’S SOCCER TIES in Opener

On Friday, the Spire men’s soccer team lost a second-half lead and had to settle for a 2-2 tie at Charles J. Berkel Memorial Stadium in the team’s season opener.

Francisco Sanchez and Brenden Sanchez scored once in the first and second half respectively to give USM a 1-goal lead in both instances.

KCC tied the game with penalty kick.

“It was a really good opportunity for us to see where we stand so far and what we need to work on,” USM head coach Derek Mazeitis said. “There are a lot of thing we can certainly do better.”