COLBY – For the first 2 1/2 sets on Tuesday, the Hutchinson Community College volleyball team had things going its way in the 2016 season opener against the Colby Trojans at the Colby Community Building.
The next 1 1/2 sets, not so much.
But the new-look Blue Dragons got some key contributions off the bench and turned things around in the fifth to defeat the Trojans 3-2 (25-19, 25-20, 18-25, 14-25, 15-9).
Redshirt freshman Kyann Eslick made her long-awaited Blue Dragon debut – she missed last season with an injury – to pound down 12 kills on .435 hitting off the bench. Freshman Nadine Cruz also came off the bench to tally 12 kills on .526 hitting.
The Blue Dragons were out-hit by Colby 52-49 in kills. The Trojans had 26 attack errors to Hutch’s 24. The Blue Dragons had an 11-7 blocks advantage. Colby had 11 ace serves to Hutchinson’s seven.
Sophomore Hinalei Fihaki led the Dragons with 11 total blocks (1 solo, 10 assist). She added six kills. Page Hiebert added six kills.
Freshman setter Nicole Rutherford had 21 assists and a pair of service aces. Freshman setter Katie Jorn added 19 assists with one ace and seven digs. Sophomore libero Mine Cetinoz had 22 digs and a fifth-set service ace. Kelsey Mulligan also had two aces.
Alex Malek led Colby with 13 kills and five aces. Singryd Valadera had eight kills and three blocks.
The fifth set provided two key moments before HCC pulled away late. Hutch trialed 6-4 after three-straight Malek aces. Fihaki ended the run with an off-speed shot to the deep left corner, and then Eslick won a key joust for a kill to knot the set at 6-all. Then leading 10-9, Colby thought it had tied the set on a Valadera kill, but the Colby middle was called for a net violation which wiped out the kill. That two-point swing sparked a match-clinching 5-0 run with Cetinoz dropping Hutch’s seventh ace of the match and a double block by Fihaki and Cruz on the final points of the match.
The Dragons dropped the first three points of the match and tied the set seven times before trailing 19-18 against the sophomore-dominated Trojans. Eslick’s kill, Jorn’s ace serve and a combo block by Fihaki and Cruz gave Hutch a 21-19 lead and forced a Colby timeout. The Dragons kept rolling, finishing off the set on a 7-0 run, getting an Eslick kill on set point. HCC out-hit Colby 14-9 and out-blocked the Trojans 4-1 in the first set.
The Blue Dragons built leads of 8-5, 11-6 and 14-10 in the second set before Colby mounted its best run of the early stages of the match. The Trojans went on a 7-1 run to force a Dragon timeout. Hutch responded with a 6-2 run and took a 21-19 lead on a Rutherford ace serve. After a Malek kill, HCC scored the final five points of the set to take a 2-0 match lead. The Dragons took advantage of 10 Colby attack errors and mixed in four aces.
Fihaki and Eslick tied the third set at 9-all on a double block. From that point, Colby started to seize control of the set. Malek had three kills and an ace, while Kendra Kelly had a huge third set for Colby with five kills and two blocks. A Cruz kill cut Colby’s lead to 16-14, but the Trojans pulled away with a 9-4 run, scoring 5 of the final 6 points to earn their first set of the match.
The fourth set took on the same tone. Back-to-back kills by Rhiannon Vieyra knotted the set at 11, but Colby scored four straight to start what became a 14-3 run. The Blue Dragons hit .000 in the fourth set with 11 kills, but 11 attack errors.
MATCH NOTES – The Blue Dragons won their third-straight season opener. … HCC has also won its last three five-set matches going back to last season. … In Patrick Hall’s tenure, HCC is now 16-16 in five-set matches, going 2-1 against Colby. … The victory avenges last year’s 3-1 loss at Colby, which snapped Hutchinson’s 29-match Jayhawk Conference winning streak.
(HCC Sports Information)
To say the 2016 preseason hasn’t been normal for fifth-year Hutchinson Community College volleyball coach Patrick Hall would be an understatement.
From Day 1 of 2016 fall practice, normal hasn’t been part of the Blue Dragon volleyball vocabulary.
First, the ongoing renovations to the Hutchinson Sports Arena meant the Blue Dragons opened fall camp at Hutchinson Middle School-7. The team practiced there for 11 days before returning to the Arena amid constant construction.
As if that wasn’t enough for Hall, he has to replace his entire starting lineup from a sophomore-dominated 2015 team that finished ninth in the nation last season.
“There are definitely some similarities (to coaching a team as a first-year head coach),” Hall said as Hutchinson prepares for the 2016 season opener on Tuesday night at Colby. “What kind of line-up will we be using? Who is going to develop and contribute in matches? There is quite a bit of uncertainty right now.”
The 2016 Blue Dragon volleyball team has a tough act to follow.
In each of Hall’s first four seasons at Hutchinson, the Blue Dragons have won four-straight Jayhawk West championships, captured four-straight Region VI crowns and have participated in the last four NJCAA national tournaments.
Last season, the Blue Dragons went 34-9 and finished ninth in the national tournament, winning their final three matches in Casper, Wyoming, to earn the program’s first national tournament placing since 2009.
The only player to see time last season with the Blue Dragons is sophomore defensive specialist Aubrea Beasley (5-foot-2, Nickerson). Beasley averaged 1.0 digs per set in 16 sets played as a freshman. Redshirt freshman Kyann Eslick (Outside hitter, 5-11, Ulysses) figured to play a big role in her freshman season, but an injury just days into fall camp kept her off the court for the entire season.
The 2016 Blue Dragons have a pair of transfers who played last season.
Libero Mine Cetinoz (5’6, Istanbul, Turkey) averaged 3.63 digs per set in 91 sets for Florida State College at Jacksonville. Middle blocker Hinalei Fihaki (5’9, Taylorsville, Utah) played twice last season against Hutchinson as a member of the North Idaho College volleyball team. She played in 16 sets last season for the Cardinals.
That leaves 11 true freshmen on the 2016 roster. Still, the Blue Dragons were again picked to win the Jayhawk West and were receiving votes in the NJCAA preseason rankings.
“When you have a year like this, you don’t give as much thought to winning every match,” Hall said. “You are looking long term and looking to put together a really good product by the end of the season. There is no substitute for experience and you can’t just make that up. As the season goes on, we are going to get a better idea of how they are adjusting to the college game.
“It will probably be some time before the picture clears up.”
Hall will most certainly be constantly altering rotations throughout the early and middle stages of the season. With three weeks of practice and a Sunday scrimmage with Fort Hays State, this is what Hall has figured out so far …
Eslick, along with freshmen Page Hiebert (6-0, Buhler) and Shania Werner (5’5, Plainville) will be on the outside.
In the middle will be Fihaki and freshman Patricia Joseph (5’9, Wichita).
On the right side, three will battle for playing time in Hutchinson freshman Rhiannon Vieyra (6’1) and fellow freshmen Nadine Cruz (5-6, Bayamon, Puerto Rico) and Nina Pevic (5-6, Umag, Croatia).
Hall will have a pair of freshman setters in Katie Jorn and Nicole Rutherford. Jorn is a 5-8 setter from Derby and Rutherford is a 5-5 setter from Basehor.
“Both are good decision makers, which has been as asset,” Hall said of his setters. “Both have good location and we are adjusting the tempos for the hitters. From that sense, we are off to a good start.”
Cetinoz will be the libero for the Blue Dragons. Beasley and freshmen McKayla Apo (5’2, Waipahu, Hawaii) and Kelsey Mulligan (5’5, Olathe) will battle for the defensive specialist spots.
“We played better than I thought we would against more experienced players. Early on your offense won’t carry you. You have to have defense and serve receive while your offense develops. Our defense and serve receive will have to be solid. I feel confident that our offense will come along.”
It will be a busy opening week for the Blue Dragons. After opening the season on Tuesday at Colby, the Blue Dragons travel to Roswell, New Mexico, to play in the New Mexico Military Tournament. HCC will play Eastern Arizona, Odessa, New Mexico Military and Cedar Valley in New Mexico.
Hutchinson opens at home on Aug. 31 against Seward County.
(By Steve Carpenter, Hutchinson CC Sports Information Director)
WICHITA – For the first time in six years, the Hutchinson Community College football team wasn’t the first or second choice in the annual Jayhawk Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The 2016 Blue Dragons were picked to finish third in the poll, which was released on Friday at the annual Jayhawk Conference Media Day at Newman University in Wichita.
Last season’s league co-champions – Butler and Dodge City – were the top two picks for 2016. The perennial power Grizzlies were the coaches’ No. 1 choice. Coffeyville – the Blue Dragons’ season-opening opponent – was picked fourth.
The bottom four teams of the 2016 coaches’ poll were Highland, Garden City, Independence and Fort Scott.
From 2011 through 2014, the Blue Dragons were picked second in the preseason poll. That streak ended last year when HCC was the league’s choice to win it all after capturing the conference championship in 2014.
But things didn’t go as planned for the Blue Dragons in 2015. After a 3-1 start, HCC dropped 5 of the next 6 games to fall out of contention and finish 5-6 overall.
Beginning his 10th season on the Blue Dragon sideline, HCC head coach Rion Rhoades is very optimistic about 2016.
Despite having new personnel at quarterback, the 2016 Blue Dragon offense will have a strong stable of running backs and a good portion of a solid offensive line that was besieged by injuries last season returning. All told, eight players return who started and 10 others who letters return on offense.
The defensive side of the ball and special teams will have a lot of new personnel in 2016.
Only three starters and five letter winners are back on defense for the Blue Dragons. HCC will also have a completely different personnel group of special teamers – kickers, punters, holders, long snappers – from 2015.
Hutchinson opens its season on August 27 at Coffeyville before playing host to national power Iowa Western at Gowans Stadium on September 3 in the home opener. After a bye week, Garden City comes to Gowans on September 17 and then HCC travels to Highland on Sept. 24.
The last time that Hutchinson wasn’t picked first or second in the coaches poll was 2010 when they were picked fourth in the preseason. The 2010 team finished second and advanced to the Region VI championship playoff game.
Blue Dragon Football opens fall camp on Thursday morning.
(HCC Sports Information)
2016 Jayhawk Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll
2. Dodge City
6. Garden City
8. Fort Scott
2016 Blue Dragon Football Schedule
August 27 – at Coffeyville, 7 p.m.
September 3 – Iowa Western, Noon
September 17 – Garden City, Noon
September 24 –at Highland, 1 p.m.
October 1 – at Iowa Central, 11 a.m.
October 3 – Kansas Wesleyan JV, 6 p.m.
October 15 – Ellsworth, Noon
October 22 – at Butler, 7 p.m.
October 29 – Independence, Noon
November 5 – at Fort Scott, 8 p.m.
November 12 – Dodge City, Noon
For the second-straight season, the Hutchinson Community College men’s track and field team was named the NJCAA Track and Field Coaches Association’s Academic Team of the Year.
The Blue Dragon women’s track and field team narrowly missed winning the award for the third-straight year by .001 point.
The Blue Dragon men’s team posted an aggregate 3.676 grade-point average in the 2016 track and field season. The HCC women’s team amassed a 3.876 team GPA. The NJCAA Track and Field Coaches Association takes the Top 10 GPA’s from each team for the spring semester to compute Team GPA for this award.
The women’s team had five athletes post 4.0 GPAs. There were 30 GPAs of 4.0 in the nation. Those posting 4.0 GPAs for the women’s team were Morgan Ash (White City, freshman), Angela Lingg (Wichita, sophomore), Angelica Soria (Topeka, sophomore), Holly Wright (Wellington, sophomore) and Jessica Yenni (Norman, Okla., sophomore). Lingg, Soria and Wright are two-time Academic All-Americans.
The Hutchinson men’s team had Ethan Artzer (Wamego, freshman), Matt Willis (Newton, sophomore) and Mark Myer (Wamego, freshman) post 4.0 GPA. Overall, there were 16 men’s 4.0 GPAs. Willis is a two-time Academic All-American.
(HCC Sports Information)
NJCAA TRACK AND FIELD COACHES ASSOCIATION ACADEMIC HONORS
1. Hutchinson CC 3.676
2. Cloud County CC 3.660
3. Lincoln College 3.536
4. Butler CC 3.526
5. South Plains College 3.306
6. Highland CC 3.271
7. Harper College 3.223
8. Vincennes University 3.190
Men’s NJCAA Academic All-Americans (HCC athletes only)
Ethan Artzer (Wamego, KS; Freshman) 4.00
Mark Meyer (Wamego, KS; Freshman) 4.00
Matt Willis (Newton, KS, Sophomore) 4.00
Jake Falder (Lincoln, KS; Sophomore) 3.79
Seth Snelling (Marion, KS; Freshman) 3.79
Weston Riner (Pratt, KS; Sophomore) 3.77
Kamdon Basinger (Brookville, KS; Freshman) 3.71
1. Butler CC 3.877
2. Hutchinson CC 3.876
3. Cloud County CC 3.630
4. Cuyahoga CC 3.623
5. Harper College 3.599
6. New Mexico Junior College 3.502
7. Lincoln College 3.452
8. Highland CC 3.440
9. South Plains College 3.320
10. Vincennes University 3.268
Women’s NJCAA Academic All-Americans (HCC athletes only)
Morgan Ash (White City, KS; Freshman) 4.00
Angela Lingg (Wichita, KS; Sophomore) 4.00
Angelica Soria (Topeka, KS; Sophomore) 4.00
Holly Wright (Wellington, KS; Sophomore) 4.00
Jessica Yenni (Norman, OK; Sophomore) 4.00
Leah Nelson (Wellington, KS; Freshman) 3.82
Kylie James (Manhattan, KS; Freshman) 3.81
Jaclyn Melillo (Wichita, KS; Freshman) 3.80
Emily Baldwin (Windom, KS; Sophomore) 3.75
Michael Helman’s sensational freshman season with the Hutchinson Community College baseball team earned national recognition on Tuesday.
Helman was named the 2016 ABCA/Rawlings NJCAA Division I Gold Glove winner at second base.
Helman is the first Blue Dragon in team history to be named to the national Gold Glove team in Division I.
Primarily a second baseman, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound freshman from Lincoln, Nebraska (Lincoln Puis X), also started games in left field, right field and on the pitcher’s mound this past season.
Helman made all the routine plays in his freshman season for the 39-20 Blue Dragons and also turned in more than his share of dazzling plays showing great range at second base.
Helman posted a .979 overall fielding percentage on 191 total defensive chances this season. His 111 assists were 12th most in Blue Dragon single-season history. He committed only four errors all season.
Helman helped turn 29 double plays in 2016.
Also named first-team All-Jayhawk West, first-team All-Region VI and a Region VI Gold Glove selection at second base, Helman was equally impressive at the plate.
Helman became the 21st Blue Dragon in program history to post a season batting average of .400 or higher with a team-high .416 batting average.
His 89 total hits are second most in program season history. Helman had 20 doubles, two triples, nine home runs, 58 RBIs and 64 runs scored. He tied for fourth in season history in total bases (140) and tied for fourth in doubles. He tied for the eighth-most runs scored. Helman also led the 2016 Blue Dragons in stolen bases going 24 for 25.
He tied an HCC single-game record with three home runs against Independence on May 7. He put together HCC’s third-longest hitting streak in program history at 18 games.
Helman had a team-high 30 multi-hit games, including three four-hit games. He had 14 multi-RBI games as well.
As a pitcher, Helman made eight total appearances with five starts. He was 0-1 with one save and a 2.45 ERA. In 22 innings pitched, Helman had 22 strikeouts to only three walks and opponents hit .269 against him. He worked a season-long five innings twice against Garden City and Longview.
Helman’s save came against Cloud County on March 26.
(HCC Sports Information)
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