Local sports events

To close the Oredigger Classic on Saturday, it was no easy task for the Western New Mexico University volleyball team as they fell to both No. 13 Wayne State (23-25, 15-25, 20-25) and No. 19 Colorado School of Mines 3-0 (19-25, 16-25, 16-25).

Freshman Sarai Migao (Temecula, CA/Chaparral) continued her strong opening weekend to her collegiate career adding nine kills to tie senior Alanna Watt (Hague, Saskatchewan/Hague) for the team lead against Wayne State (3-0). Sophomore Cristal Carrizoza (Phoenix, AZ/North) dished out 17 assists, with sophomoreSophia Mitchell (Katy, TX/Taylor) adding 10. Senior Ashley Mataele (Laie, HI/Kahuku) collected 20 digs, while sophomore Hannah Tishlarich (Elk Grove, CA/Pleasant Grove) sent back five blocks.

WNMU redshirt senior wide receiver D'Angelo Bowie (Virginia Beach, VA/Landstown) got loose for 19 receptions to set a new Lone Star Conference single game reception mark, breaking the old total of 15 against the University of San Diego (Division I FCS) on Saturday. Redshirt senior quarterback Javia Hall (Dallas, TX/Skyline)added 464 passing yards, but it wasn't enough as the Toreros erased an early 13-0 Mustang lead to take the 34-20 victory.

It was evident early on that Hall and Bowie had a good thing going and they went to it early and often. Hall went 39-62 for 464 yards and three scores. Bowie was the recipient of a majority of those passes as he snagged 19 balls for 263 yards and two touchdowns. His 263 receiving yards is the most for a Mustang since 2015 when Xavier Ayers (Albuquerque, NM/Albuquerque) went for 250 yards.

The Lone Star Conference will expand to 19 member schools beginning in the fall of 2019 as 8 schools from the Heartland Conference have accepted invitations from the LSC.

The University of Arkansas Ft. Smith, Dallas Baptist University, Lubbock Christian, Oklahoma Christian, Rogers State University, St. Edward's University, St. Mary's University, and Texas A&M International University are the schools invited by the LSC Council of Presidents. The move will dissolve the Heartland Conference.

Following a strong 2016 season in which the Western New Mexico University volleyball team reached the Lone Star Conference tournament in their first year in the league, the Lady Mustangs will start year two in the LSC in 2017 by opening the season with a challenging four-match tournament at the Oredigger Classic this Friday and Saturday hosted by Colorado School of Mines.

WNMU went 16-16 last year and opened last year going 3-1 in San Diego as the Lady Mustangs came back from a tough 3-1 loss to Cal Baptist to defeat CSU Dominguez Hills, Chadron State and Point Loma. Following a setback to Concordia (CA), another 3-1 tournament followed in Salt Lake City with wins against Minot State, Texas A&M-International and host Westminster.
The conference slate started well with a pair of wins over Cameron and Midwestern State, both sweeps. Later in the LSC season victories came against UT Permian Basin (twice), Texas Woman’s, Texas A&M-Commerce, Midwestern State again and a big win over West Texas A&M.

Senior Heather Verrill looks to continue her strong play enter her final year as a Lady Mustang. In her move from middle blocker to right side, the consistency continued as she led the team in kills with 312 and points with 368.5. She ended up third in blocks with 100. Fellow seniors Kalie Lyle and Kelli McGhiey also had over 100 kills with Lyle posting 179 and McGhiey with 141.

Senior Ashley Mataele was the rock on the back row leading the team with 540 digs. Returning sophomore setters Cristal Carrizoza (380) and Bailey Gin (185) were second and third on the team respectively in assists. Sophomore middle blocker Hannah Tishlarich saw significant time trading off with last year’s LSC Defensive Player of the Year Shannon Rich in the middle last year as Tishlarich sent back 64 blocks. Returners sophomores Erin Moss, Kali Iago, Jaden Wright, Kaitlyn Rutherford and Kealohi Hao all saw time last year and will be back in 2017.

Of the new players set to join the squad, Alanna Watt will be a senior after spending time at Feather River College. The outside hitter originally from Hague, Saskatchewan, will look to provide power on the pins. Aspen Luna returns to the team after missing last year due to injury, while two other juniors will join her on the team in transfers Kijana Best and Shayla Roby. Best spent last year at the City College of San Francisco and piled up impressive numbers as an outside hitter. Roby is a defensive specialist that was a regular on the team at Ranger College.

A pair of transfers also come from the same school in setter Sophia Mitchell and middle blocker Christiana DuBose, both arrive from the University of New Orleans. Both spent a year at UNO, with Mitchell playing last year and will be a sophomore, while DuBose redshirted and will be a redshirt freshman. The last transfer on the team will be middle blocker Deyzha Samuelu from Chadron State as she will be a redshirt sophomore.

Seven others are on the team as incoming freshmen in defensive specialist Adriana Leon, middle blocker Delaney Seitz, outside hitter Selai Damuni, setter Naomi Dalley, outside hitter Sarai Migao, outside hitter Rina-Jade Kalama and defensive specialist Ivoree Vailu’u.

In the opening tournament at the Oredigger Classic, the Lady Mustangs will see three teams from the South Central Region in former Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference foes Regis, Colorado Mesa and No. 19 Colorado School of Mines. WNMU will also go against No. 13 Wayne State out of Nebraska.

Regis went 18-12 last year and advanced to the South Central Regional where they went five sets before falling to Tarleton State. Kelsey Green returns after finishing second on the team in kills with 280. Kristina Schell led the team in digs with 428 a year ago and is back for her junior year. WNMU and Regis last played in 2015 with the Rangers taking both matches first with a 3-0 win in Silver City and then in the RMAC Tournament grabbing the 3-1 victory.

The Lady Mustangs and Rangers will open the tournament on Friday at 9 a.m.
To close the day on Friday at 1 p.m. WNMU will go against Colorado Mesa. The Mavericks went 18-10 last year and also reached the South Central Regional in which they fell in a tough five-set battle to MSU Denver. Colorado Mesa played in the Oredigger Classic last year as after falling to nationally-ranked Wayne State and Nebraska-Kearney, they came back to down Dallas Baptist and Indianapolis.

In what will be the seventh straight meeting for the two teams since 2011, the Western New Mexico University football team travels back to Southern California to face Division I (FCS) the University of San Diego Saturday afternoon slated for a 2 p.m. kickoff Pacific Time.

This marks the fourth time in the last five years that the two teams have opened the season with each other. Although the Toreros are 6-0 in the series, several games have come down to the wire. In 2014, the Mustangs were on the move late, down six, but weren't able to find the end zone in falling just short 23-17. It was a three-point separation in 2013 with USD holding on for the 38-35 victory. In 2012, the start of three straight close games in the series began with the Toreros holding off another late Mustang charge to take the 34-27 win. USD has held the upper hand over the last two meetings winning 45-21 in 2015 and 27-0 last year.

USD held a 403 to 217 advantage in total yards in 2016, with the Mustangs throwing for 142 yards. Seniors Javia Hall and Matt Hommel were both battling for the starting quarterback spot at the start of last year, with Hall completing 8-16 for 59 yards, while Hommel went 8-20 for 83 yards. Sophomore DeAndre Williams didn't play in last year's meeting before he became the main back later in the season. Job McGinty led the team with 33 yards, while senior returner Tracy McNair tallied 23 yards. Top wide receiver Xavier Ayers won't be back after graduating in 2016, so the Mustangs will look to other options through the air. Senior Evan Beebe caught two passes for 21 yards against the Toreros, while McNair added two for 19 yards. Henry Norman led the team with two receptions for 40 yards.

Steven Stewart led the team in tackles with nine stops, but also graduated in 2016. A trio of seniors were right behind Stewart with Leo Marin and Dominic Barry with six tackles, while Aaron Leauma added five. Marin also added a forced fumble.

Hall is back to lead the offense after WNMU went 3-8 a year ago and 3-6 in their first year in the Lone Star Conference. He completed 245-425 for 2,939 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also rushed for 113 yards and two scores. Williams led the backfield rushing for 623 yards and six scores on 132 carries. He will be joined in the backfield by senior Justin Harris. Beebe and senior D'Angelo Bowie are back to lead the receiving corps as Bowie caught five for 42 yards and Beebe added two for 21 yards. Senior Hakiteli Tuivai and sophomore Chris-Jordon Ulufale are back along the offensive line, while returners senior Richard Pozuelos and sophomore Tytus Timoteo are set to start this season, with newcomer junior Kolton Gatson set to start at left tackle. Freshman Julian Botello will start the season out as the main place kicker as he will replace Tyler Vargas.

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