Vikings ousted in regional semifinals

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Freshman Lilian Blasque of Andradina, Brazil, won three of her four singles and doubles matched for the Lady Vikings during the NAIA regional. (MVC Athletics)

JOPLIN -- Both the Missouri Valley College men's and women's teams won their first-round matches Friday in the NAIA regional tournament at Joplin, but were eliminated by ranked foes in the semifinals.

The Valley men, 29th in votes in the previous national poll, extended their win streak to 14 matches with an 8-1 victory over Baker. The Vikings swept doubles play behind the teams of senior Luiz Felipe Moura and sophomore Lucas Oliveira at No. 1, senior Brock Hughes and junior Wesley Ng at No. 2, and freshman Gerard Puig and sophomore Pablo Goicochea at No. 3.

Oliveira, Ng, Puig, Goicochea and sophomore Devour Vujkovic also won in singles, with a sweep possible had Moura not withdrawn after winning the first set 7-6 (7-4) against sophomore Michael Draper -- son of former Grain Valley coach Randy Draper -- in order to conserve energy for the next match.

It must have helped, because Moura and Oliveira got Valley off to a good start against 20th-ranked Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) with an 8-4 win in the semis, but that was the team's only doubles victory. The Warriors (5-10) won the next two tilts, then three of the four completed singles matches, to reach the championship showdown -- which it lost 5-1 to No. 14 Graceland.

The only singles win for the Vikings (14-2) came from Puig at No. 4, 6-4, 7-5.

"It was a very tough loss for the men," admitted MVC head coach Ryan Carney. "I was very pleased with our play and intensity on the court, but we couldn't quite pull it out."

What was most frustrating is that Lewis-Clark had to come from behind for both of its 8-6 doubles wins.

"We definitely did not* throw those matches away," Carney said. "Their players just played extremely well to make comebacks."

The Lady Vikings had a tough opener against Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.), taking a 5-4 decision.

Valley won two doubles matches behind freshmen Lilian Blasque and Adela Gil at No. 1 and freshman Betsabe Vasquez and sophomore Daniela Cheda at No. 2.

Blasque and Gil got the Lady Vikings to within a win of clinching with their victories in the top two singles spots, with Vasquez closing it out with a straight-set triumph at No. 3.

However, No. 12 Graceland (13-3) proved too strong for MVC in the semifinals, winning 5-1, and then took home the trophy with a 5-3 victory over Lewis-Clark.

Blasque and Gil got the only win for Valley (13-4) at No. 1 doubles, 8-5.

"We played pretty well," Carney said. "We had a very good season for having so many young players."

Carney is just as optimistic about the future fortunes of the Valley men.

"We will really miss our seniors. They are great players and great guys," he said. "But I really look forward to coaching the very talented players we have coming back."

Men's Golf

The MVC men's golf team shot a 940 for third place in the Heart of America Conference Tournament, held Monday and Tuesday at Indian Foothills Golf Course.

The Vikings moved up from fourth place in the first round, passing Avila during the second circuit. Although they were fourth in the final round, they held onto third place. Freshman Shane Hall of Sugarland, Texas, opened with a 79, but shot 76s in the final two stages to tie for fourth place at 231 and earn all-conference honors.

Freshman Zac Howard was 14th at 237 while freshman Caleb Abalos (239) and sophomore Travis Chorley (240) rounded out Valley's team score.

Junior Tyler Barr shot 228 for a one-stroke victory to lead Culver-Stockton to the title, 920 to 935 over Baker. The Wildcats advance to the NAIA Championships, May 13-16 at Daytona Beach, Fla.

While the season ended for the Valley men, the Lady Vikings will compete next week in the HAAC Tournament at Maryville.

Track & Field

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. -- Senior Amanda Buhr raced to victory in the 3,000-meter run (11:28.86) for the MVC women's track and field team Saturday in the Baker Wildcat Open at Baldwin City, Kan.

Buhr was the only winner for the Lady Vikings, who got second-place performances from junior Sarah Neimeier in the 800 (2:28.18) and third-place showings by freshman Santina Edwards in the 400 (1:00.10) senior Gabby Lovelace in both the high jump (1.55 meters) and long jump (4.96).

Valley finished sixth in the women's standings with 43 points, with Baker (202 points) taking the top prize. The Wildcats (121.5) also won the men's title, with the Vikings (58) coming in fourth.

The Valley men were led by silver medals for senior Tyler Davis in the long jump (6.90), freshman Phillip Cheriyout in the 1,500 (4:05.69) and freshman Markell Strickland in the 110 high hurdles (15.32 seconds).

Placing third for the Vikings were junior Kenneth Kipng'etich in the 400 (49.88) and freshman Andrew Longboy in the high jump (1.98).

Valley will compete Thursday through Saturday in the Heart of America Conference Championships at Atchison, Kan.

Men's Lacrosse

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The 19th-ranked MVC men's lacrosse team closed the regular season with its seventh straight victory, 23-11 at Kansas.

The Vikings extended their 5-3 first-quarter lead with an 11-5 run during the second period, then provided a greater cushion over the Jayhawks (3-7) in the 5-1 third frame. Junior Doug Brown paced Valley with six goals and three assists, with junior J.J. Licata scoring five times and junior Jeremy Frosch adding four goals.

The Vikings (12-1) will play later this week in the GRLC Division II Tournament at St. Louis, opening Friday against Judson (Ill.).

Contact Chris Allen at callen@marshallnews.com

* - Editor's Note: Previous quotation modified at the request of subject.

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