DII Notebook: Rockhurst Volleyball ready to go '100 percent'
In its first match Saturday afternoon, Rockhurst University women’s volleyball faced a test against Henderson State in the Rockhurst Volleyball Classic.
Playing on its home court at Mason-Halpin Field House in Kansas City, Rockhurst, ranked No. 17 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, was favored to win.
But the Hawks were coming off a 3-0 victory against No. 5 Wayne State (Neb.) on Friday. The potential was there for a letdown. It didn’t happen. Led by senior hitters Katie Loescher and Preecy Seever and junior hitter Morgan Rietzke, Rockhurst won 25-16, 25-9, 25-8.
“It was very important,” Rietzke said. “It shows we will not let down no matter who we play. We are still going to go 100 percent.”
Rockhurst won all four of its matches in its weekend tournament and improved to 7-1.
It is the second week in a row Rockhurst defeated a team ranked No. 5 and from Nebraska. Last weekend at the Springhill Suites Invitational in Anchorage, Alaska, the Hawks beat Nebraska-Kearney 3-0.
“They are both solid teams, obviously,” said Rockhurst coach Tracy Rietzke, who is also the father of Morgan. “Throughout the season, they are going to be successful teams. When you can beat teams of that caliber, it gives you confidence.”
The Hawks have a reason to be confident. They return eight seniors off a team that finished 28-5 last year and reached the regional finals. The team is also motivated. They were one victory away from reaching the quarterfinals in Louisville.
“We were proud of ourselves but we also don’t want to have that feeling again so that is motivating us even more,” said Seever, who earned first team All-American honors by the AVCA.
Morgan, who was honorable mention All-American selection, said having so many seniors definitely helps.
“It gives us an extra boost this year,” Morgan said.
From a coaching standpoint, having that many seniors is definitely beneficial.
“They know what to expect,” Tracy said. “They are mentally prepared for every game. You don’t have to tell them as much. They have been through the battle before. Plus, they provide that leadership, which is really important.”
Whatever happens, this will be another special year for Tracy. Not only is he coaching Morgan, he is coaching another daughter in senior Kylie Rietzke.
“It is pretty cool,” Tracy said. “How many times you get that opportunity to coach your daughters. It is really good. Hopefully, they enjoy it. I know I enjoy it. It is fun.”
New Knights, Big Expectations
Lynn University men’s soccer team entered this season the defending NCAA Division II champions and ranked No. 1. But with only three starters returning and 18 new players on the roster, coach John Rootes knew the pressure was going to be on the Fighting Knights.
Rootes made sure the incoming players understood the early season ranking in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America was based on what last year’s team accomplished.
“It is not really a reflection on them,” Rootes said. “I made it clear to them they have to earn it.”
Those words are quickly getting through the Fighting Knights. They won 10-0 against Colorado Christian in the opening week of the season. Rootes admits the Florida heat and humidity probably got to Colorado Christian.
Rootes was eager to see how his team was going to play over the weekend against Delta State and Lee.
“It will give us a good measuring stick,” Rootes said. “It is kind of trial by fire to see how we can do.”
The Fighting Knights came away with a 7-0 victory over Delta State. The game against Lee was cancelled because of lightning. It appears lightning is the only thing that is able to beat Lynn right now. In the opening week, Lynn had a game against Florida Memorial cancelled because of lightning.
One reason Lynn is off to a good start is because of the return of junior forward Chris Hellman, who already has seven goals and three assists. Last year Hellmann had 28 goals and 13 assists. Eleven of his goals were game winners.
“If I had a choice of all the players coming back, it would certainly be easy to pick Chris Hellmann,” Rootes said. “Having the conference player of the year back makes a big difference. That is a positive thing.
“With all the new players, it puts a lot of pressure on Chris. The other teams are going to know about Chris. They will spend a lot of time keeping an eye on him. Hopefully, the other guys can step up so it is not so easy to key on Chris.”
The other two returning starters back are seniors James Casserly, a defender, and midfielder Lukas Zlatarits.
Notable Week 2 football performances
- West Texas A&M senior running back Geremy Alridge-Mitchell scored three rushing touchdowns and one receiving and helped his team beat defending national champions Colorado State University-Pueblo 31-30. It also snapped CSU-Pueblo’s 10-game winning streak, which was the longest current winning streak in Division II. Alridge-Mitchell finished with a 105 yards rushing and 37 receiving.
- Minnesota-Duluth senior running back Logan Lauters and junior quarterback Drew Bauer helped the Bulldogs bounce back from a season-opening loss. Lauters rushed for 149 yards in 13 carries and Bauer completed 17 of 21 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-7 victory over Wayne State (Neb.).
- Delta State junior quarterback Tyler Sullivan completed 34 of 56 passes for 491 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for another touchdown in a road victory at Texas A&M-Commerce.
- Valdosta State held Winston-Salem to only 178 yards of total offense in a 31-3 victory. The Blazers defense recovered two fumbles and had two sacks. Leading the way was junior linebacker Sharmaine Washington, who had a team-high seven tackles.
Week Two games to watch results
- No. 21 Grand Valley State went on the road and knocked off No. 7 Ohio Dominican 27-24.
- An expected offensive shootout was exactly that in No. 10 Delta State’s 51-44 victory at No. 18 Texas A&M-Commerce.
- No. 5 Pittsburg State (Ks.), in its home opener, beat Lindenwood 56-28.
- Bloomsburg (Pa.) picked up a road victory beating California (Pa.), 21-13
- Humboldt State (Calif.) went on the road and defeated No. 17 Azusa Pacific (Calif.), 62-41.
- West Texas A&M thrilled its home crowd by beating No. 1 and defending national champions Colorado State University-Pueblo 31-30.