Cobber Volleyball 2011 Preview

MOORHEAD, Minn. (8/29/11)– Not much has changed for the Concordia volleyball team since they last left the court in the NCAA Tournament in November. The Cobbers return all six starting players and have everyone back from a team that went 24-7 on the year and was within one game of the MIAC regular season championship.

The two biggest reasons that head coach Tim Mosser has been looking forward to this season come in the forms of returning All-Americans Jenna Green (Sr., Dilworth, Minn./D-G-F HS) and Katie Vohnoutka (Sr., Eden Prairie, Minn.). Both players have been in the CC starting lineup for three years and both have been handfuls for any opposing defense to try and stop. Green led the team in kills in 2010 and was seventh in MIAC in both kills and digs. Vohnoutka was second on the team in overall kills but led the team in kills and blocks in conference play. She finished the year second in the MIAC in blocks and third in kills in league play. Green has 949 kills and 1034 digs in her three-year career and will likely become only the second player in the history of the program to surpass the 1000 kill, 1000 dig mark. Vohnoutka has 914 career kills and should become the 11th member of the 1,000-kill club in school history.

While Green and Vohnoutka will draw the most attention from opposing team’s defense, the Cobbers have several other front line players that can carry the team for an entire match. Senior Ashley Beseman (Raymond, Minn./MACCRAY HS) and sophomores Allison Bruggeman (Moorhead, Minn.) and Brooke Tastad (Montevideo, Minn.) all had over 100 kills on the year. All three players also showed the versatility that green and Vohnoutka bring to the team. Beseman was second on the team in blocks in 2010 while Bruggeman was third on the team in blocks and fourth in digs.

The Cobbers will also return their offensive quarterback and defensive specialist. Three-year starter Amy Sykora (Rapid City, S.D./Stevens HS) has posted 700-assist seasons the past two years and has 2,075 helpers in her career. She is third on the school’s all-time assist list and should jump into the second spot during the season. Sophomore Rachel Wiinanen (Maple Grove, Minn.) stepped into the libero role last year and had over 325 digs in her first season.

Mosser has also started the task of restocking the cupboards for next year as he brought in five freshmen that will all learn from their experience of playing with a group that has remain intact for two straight years.

Concordia will start the season with another target on its back. The Cobbers are one of only two teams in the MIAC to be ranked in the top 15 in the AVCA preseason poll. CC will have plenty of opportunity to show they belong among the nation’s elite. Concordia will travel to four top-tier tournaments during the regular season and will face four teams ranked in the top of the 13 of the nation. The pinnacle of tough competition will come at the Colorado College Invitational where they will face two-time national champion Juniata (Pa.) as well as Washington University (Mo.) who is ranked third in the preseason poll and advanced to last year’s NCAA semifinals as well as host Colorado College who starts the season ranked No.13.

If Concordia can be successful during their tough non-conference schedule then by the end of October they should be able to set their sights on a MIAC championship and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Complete 2011 MIAC Volleyball Season Preview

2011 MIAC Coaches’ Preseason Poll
1. Concordia (8) – 117
2. St. Thomas (3) – 106
3. St. Olaf (1) – 94
4. Saint Benedict – 92
5. Saint Mary’s – 81
6. Bethel – 75
7. St. Catherine – 49
8. Augsburg – 45
9. Carleton – 42
10. Gustavus – 37
11. Hamline – 33
12. Macalester – 15

Cobber Football 2011 Preview

MOORHEAD, Minn. (8/29/11)– The 2011 Cobbers will be looking to play the role of streak stoppers. For a program that is used to competing for the MIAC championship, the string of two consecutive fourth-place finishes hasn’t set very well.

As CC head coach Terry Horan enters his 11th season at the helm, he will once again have to figure out a way to avoid early-season losing skids that force the Cobbers to run off extended winning streaks at the end of the year just to get back to the .500 level. Concordia has posted a combined mark of 1-7 in their first four conference games of the past two seasons. The good news is that Horan has done a great job of keeping the Cobbers “on task” and they have ended the year by going 6-2 in their final four games in 2009 and 2010.

The schedule makers have once again put Concordia up against a wall to start the year as they open MIAC play by hosting perennial league power St. John’s on Sept. 17 and then defending conference champion St. Thomas on Sept. 24. If the Cobbers are to make a run at their first top 2 finish since 2005, they will need to knock off at least one of the preseason nationally ranked teams.

The preview numbers look pretty impressive for the Cobber offense as they return nine starters from last year’s team that averaged 367.7 total yards and 25.0 points per game. Unfortunately those numbers are heavy on the “skilled” positions and slightly less impressive for the offensive line.

Concordia returns five of their six starting backfield members from a year ago. Two-year starting quarterback Michael Dunham (Sr., Willmar, Minn.) returns after a record-setting season in 2010. Dunham set the school record for passing yards, completions and attempts in a single season and needs only 1,650 more passing yards to eclipse the school’s all-time career passing mark.

Making things even brighter for the CC offense is that Dunham’s two favorite targets from last year are back in camp. Bronson Shepherd (Sr., Brainerd, Minn.) and Mike Starke (Jr., Annandale, Minn.) both return after breakout seasons in 2010. Shepherd was named to the MIAC All-Conference Second Team and led the team in receptions, yards and TD’s. Starke caught at least one pass in all 10 games and finished the year with 35 receptions. CC also returns their top two leading rushers in Trent Johnson (So., Moorhead, Minn.) and fullback Brett Baune (Fargo, N.D./Fargo South). Johnson rushed for 411 yards last year while Baune led the team in rushing touchdowns.

The defense will see the biggest changes as first-year defensive coordinator Kyle Bakken inherits a crew that allowed an average of 369.2 yards and 25.3 points per game. The biggest area for improvement will come on pass defense where CC was ranked eighth in the MIAC and allowed almost 250 passing yards per game. To make matters even tougher, the Cobbers lost their lone First Team All-Conference selection, safety Zach Debeltz, to graduation.

Concordia will have to replace seven starters on defense. One of the bright spots for the newly crowned Cobber “Black Shirts” will be the return of linebacker Matt Moenkedick (Jr., Verndale, Minn.), who played in only five games in 2010 due to an injury, and 2010 sack leader Reed Hefta (Jr., Falkirk, N.D./Underwood HS). Moenkedick had 25 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss and 1.0 sacks in his short stint last year while Hefta came away with a league-best 8.0 QB takedowns. Overall CC lost their top two tacklers from 2010 but return linebacker Josh Herzog (Sr., Detroit Lakes, Minn.) who was third on the team in tackles with 52 tackles and defensive back Brent Rysdahl (Jr., Marshall, Minn.) who had 37 tackles.

The defensive backfield will have a mixture of youth and experience. Joining Rysdahl will be senior Tyler Spiczka (Sauk Rapids, Minn.), junior Seth Lage (Pelican Rapids, Minn.) and sophomore Bryce Hentges (Sauk Centre, Minn.). All three saw extended time at the end of last season and with Spiczka being the most experienced – having played in nine games in 2010.

The special teams units will also feature the “something experienced, something new” theme. Kicker Porfirio Diaz (Sr., Pelican Rapids, Minn.) returns for a second season. Diaz was 29-for-32 on extra points and 3-for-7 on field goal attempts. A year of experience will help Diaz acclimate from the very start of the season. The Cobbers will have to replace punter Alex Jensen who was lost to graduation. The frontrunner for the position is sophomore Brett Harmelink (Moorhead, Minn.). Harmelink has shown impressive leg strength in the early part of the preseason.

The Cobbers open the 2011 by hosting NAIA foe Dickinson State. The Blue Hawks beat CC on a last-minute touchdown and are currently ranked No.7 in the NAIA preseason national poll. After their home tilt against DSU, Concordia will travel to Storm Lake, Iowa to take on Buena Vista. The Beavers were 3-7 last season and were selected sixth in the annual IIAC preseason coaches’ poll.

Complete 2011 MIAC Football Preview   

2011 MIAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. St. Thomas (6) – 62
2. Bethel (2) – 56
3. Saint John’s (1) – 53
4. St. Olaf – 40
5. Concordia – 36
6. Gustavus – 30
7. Augsburg – 21
8. Carleton – 15
9. Hamline – 11

Former Cobber Named Assistant Hockey Coach at Penn State

Great news for former Cobber hockey player Josh Hand. Hand was just named as an assistant coach at Penn State. Penn State currently has a club team but will be fielding a full varsity squad in 2012-13 when they start play in the newly formed Big 10 Hockey Conference.

Here is the official release announcing Josh’s hiring:

An assistant coach with the Icers for the 2010-11 season, Josh Hand will remain on the Penn State club hockey team staff for the 2011-12 campaign as a volunteer assistant coach. The 2011-12 season will serve as Penn State’s last at the ACHA level before elevating to NCAA play beginning in 2012-13.

During his first season, Hand assisted in various aspects of the program, including recruiting, video analysis and practice development. With Head Coach Scott Balboni’s participation at the World University Games in February, Hand assumed head coaching duties for a six-game stretch. He led the team to a 4-1-1 record and helped secure the Icers a spot in the ACHA national tournament.

The Reading, Pa., native was also named the recipient of the team’s 2010-11 Vance McCullough Award of Excellence, which is presented for important contributions made toward the development of Penn State Hockey.

Prior to joining the Icers, Hand spent two seasons as an assistant coach and hockey director at Texas A&M. During his second season in College Station, he helped lead the team to a 20-8-2 record and its first-ever berth into a ACHA regional tournament. The feat marked the first time the regional tournament included a Texas school.

During his coaching career, Hand has worked on many top coaching staffs, including Mitch Korn (Nashville Predators/NHL), Graeme Townsend (Toronto Maple Leafs/NHL) and Terry Ruskowski (Rio Grande Killer Bees/CHL).

As a player, Hand played collegiate at Concordia College (2004-08), where he also played football. A Dallas Stars rookie camp attendee, Hand was also a member of the Boston Junior Bulldogs of the AJHL. He graduated from Concordia with a bachelor’s degree in communications and political science.

Josh Hand Cobber Bio Page

Cobber Football WDAY Preseason Preview

Check out the Cobber football preview video blog put together by Dom Izzo of WDAY sports and Eric Peterson of the Fargo Forum sports staff.

Dom and Eric talk about the key aspects of the upcoming season which include a terrific home schedule and what it will take for Concordia to snap their streak of two straight .500 finishes.

Cobber Football Preview Video Blog

Another Top 25 Preseason Ranking!

When it comes to national rankings the Cobber volleyball team will start the 2011 season where they left off in 2010. Concordia is ranked 14th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) preseason poll it was announced on Thursday.

The volleyball team is the second Cobber fall team to start the year ranked in the top 25 of the nation. The Concordia women’s soccer team is ranked 25th in the NSCAA preseason poll.

After making the NCAA playoffs for the seventh time in the last eight years, Concordia finished the year by being ranked 20th in the final AVCA national poll. It was the seventh time in the past eight years that CC has been ranked in the top 25 of the nation at the end of the year. During that time the Cobbers have spent a remarkable 75 weeks ranked in the top 25 of Division III.

The Cobbers went 24-7 in 2010 and had a mark of 9-2 in conference play. The 24 overall wins marked the seventh time in the past nine seasons that CC has won at least 20 matches in a single season. Concordia finished in third place in the MIAC and was only a single game out of first place.

Concordia will be led by returning All-Americans Jenna Green and Katie Vohnoutka in 2011. Green is a two-time All-American who led the team in kills in 2010. She had 391 on the year which is the most by any Cobber player in a single season since 2006. She had double-digit kill totals in all but five matches and finished the year with at least 10 winners in the last 12 matches of the year. Vohnoutka was second on the team in kills has posted 686 winners in the past two seasons. Vohnoutka led the team in blocks and service aces during the season. She had 107 total blocks which is the most by a player since the 2007 season.

Concordia will open their season on Friday, Sept. 2 when they compete in the UW-Eau Claire Classic. The Cobbers will also play non-conference tournament at Wartburg College (Iowa) and Colorado College. CC will begin their quest for the MIAC regular-season title when they host Hamline on Sept. 13 at 5 p.m.

Complete AVCA Preseason National Rankings

Top 10 Cobber Sports Stories From 2010-11

As we begin to open the book on a new athletic season, the Cobber Sports Information Department closes the book on the 2010-11 campaign by looking at the Top 10 Concordia athletic stories from a year ago.

The entire list and description of each story can be found on the Concordia athletic website at: Top 10 Cobber Sports Stories From 2010-11

Top 10 Cobber Sports Stories From 2010-11
#10 – The Cobber women’s hockey goes on a hot streak after January.
#9 – Men’s basketball players John Fraase and Darrin Olmscheid both eclipse the 1,000-point mark.
#8 – The Cobber volleyball team continues their eight-year dominance.
#T6 – The Cobber men’s soccer team makes the MIAC playoffs for the first time in program history.
#T6 – The men’s hockey team advances all the way to the MIAC Championship game.
#5 – The women’s basketball team wins the MIAC playoff title
#4 – The Cobber women’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the past five years by winning the MIAC Tournament.
#3 – Men’s golfer Andrew Whitchurch becomes the first athlete in program history to win medalist honors at the MIAC Meet.
#2Tom Sederquist runs past the competition in cross country and track and field as he wins the Roy Griak Invite at the U of M and then goes on to break three school records.
#1Phil Moenkedick becomes the first Cobber wrestler to won back-to-back NCAA championships. Along the way he breaks the school record for most career wins and most career pins and helps CC finish seventh at the NCAA National Meet – their highest finish in school history.