KCKCC women end 30-game losing streak to Cowley, 76-56

by Alan Hoskins

Kansas City Kansas Community College landed the first haymaker of the Jayhawk Conference women’s season Saturday and put the end to a couple of lengthy streaks in the process.

A very business-like 76-56 win over Cowley College not only ended the Lady Tigers’ 14-game win streak but ended a string of 30 straight losses to Cowley spanning all the way back to March 1, 1997.

The win was also the first over Cowley for KCKCC coach Valerie Stambersky, who is in her 15th year at the Blue Devil helm, and vaulted the Blue Devils into first place in the Jayhawk Conference at 2-0.

Ranked No. 8 nationally in Division II, KCKCC trails No. 8 Highland (4-0) and No. 1 Johnson County (3-0) in the 7-team Division II standings but is the only 2-0 team in the 10-team Jayhawk Conference.

“We came ready to play,” said Stambersky, whose Blue Devils gained control early and never let up against a Cowley (15-2) team ranked No. 23 in Division II. “We weathered the storm when we had to and made the plays when we needed to.”

Despite sub-par 37.5 shooting percent and nine turnovers, the Blue Devils opened a 33-22 halftime lead by limiting the Tigers to just 8 of 26 shots (.308), forcing 10 turnovers and dominating the rebounding 26-14 including 13 off the offensive boards.

KCKCC also got 34 points off the bench led by Sierra Roberts, a 5-8 freshman guard from Shawnee Mission South, who had her finest performance with 23 points including three three-pointers and 8 of 9 free throws.

“We don’t lose much when we go to our bench,” said Stambersky, who halfway through the first half had all five starters out of the game.

Cheyenne North led KCKCC to a 48-39 rebounding advantage with 13 along with eight points while Cierra Gaines had 17 points; Cassidy Harbert nine points, eight assists and seven steals; and Erin Anderson eight rebounds and four assists. Just 2 of 6 from the foul line in the first half, the Blue Devils were 19 of 27 the second along with 11 of 22 field goals.

The Lady Blue Devils get no time to rest on their laurels, returning to action at Hesston Monday at 6 p.m. and Coffeyville Wednesday before another big home showdown with unbeaten Highland Saturday afternoon.

Alan Hoskins is the sports information director for KCKCC.

Besler, Kempin selected for U.S. Men’s National Team January camp

Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler and homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin were named to the United States Men’s National Team roster on Friday and will take part in the U.S. MNT January Camp from Jan. 12 – Feb. 8 in Carson, Calif.

The annual training camp will be highlighted by the first two international matches on the United States schedule in 2015.

Chile will host the U.S. on Jan. 28 at Estadio El Teniente in Rancagua, Chile, before the United States returns home to face Panama at 3 p.m. on Feb. 8 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. (ESPN, UniMas, UDN).

“The prize in 2015 for the senior National Team is the Gold Cup, and this camp will give a lot of our players a chance to kick start their preparations for an important year,” U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “We also get an opportunity to introduce the next wave of young players into the program, and in particular work with many of our Olympic-age guys as they build toward qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.”

Besler has made 23 international appearances for the United States Men’s National Team since his debut in 2013. The 27-year-old central defender led the national team with 11 starts in 2014, including starting roles in all four games at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

“This is another big year ahead of us in 2015,” Besler said. “The January Camp is always a good way to set the tone for the upcoming campaign and establish a positive rhythm within the national team environment. It is an important time of the year which brings a welcomed new wave of excitement and energy.”

An Overland Park, Kan., native, Besler has made 161 appearances in MLS competition (including postseason) over six seasons since being selected in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft out of Notre Dame. He is a three-time MLS All-Star (2011, 2013, 2014) and has twice been named to the MLS Best XI (2012, 2013) to go along with an MLS Defender of the Year honor in 2012.

Kempin, 21, joins the full U.S. Men’s National Team for the first time in his career after previously representing the United States at the Under-14 through Under-23 levels and attending the U.S. Soccer Residency Program from 2008-2009. The Leawood, Kan., native was most recently a member of the U.S. Under-21 Men’s National Team during a breakthrough 2014 campaign in which he made his MLS debut.

In doing so, he became the youngest at his position to play in Major League Soccer since 2012 and also entered the record books as the youngest goalkeeper to start an MLS match in club history. Kempin earned back-to-back MLS Save of the Week honors in his first two appearances and was named MVP of the 2014 MLS Chipotle Homegrown Game.

“I am extremely honored to be able to represent my country in my first senior team call up,” Kempin said. “I am excited to work with some of the best players in the world and learn from the likes of Nick Rimando and Sean Johnson. The experience I will get from working with Jurgen (Klinsmann) and his coaching staff will be very valuable to my career. My dream is to represent the United States in the Olympics and World Cups. I feel like being invited to the January Camp is one step closer to achieving those dreams.”

He also appeared in the Champions Shield friendly against the English Premier League’s Manchester City, one of six total appearances for the club last season (4 MLS, 1 CCL, 1 friendly) while also spending time on loan at USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy FC.

Kempin, a product of the Sporting KC Academy and the team’s first homegrown player signing at age 17, now enters his sixth professional season in 2015. He made his competitive debut during the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and helped Orlando City SC claim the USL PRO Championship in 2013, making 34 saves in nine games while on loan with the Lions.

The United States – No. 27 in the latest FIFA rankings – has scheduled seven international friendlies to be played against top competition over the next six months in preparation for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup (July 7-26). The U.S. will face five teams ranked in the top 20 in the world, including regional rival Mexico (April 15), fifth-ranked Netherlands (June 5) and 2014 FIFA World Cup champion Germany (June 10).
– Story from Sporting KC

KCKCC volleyball All-American Russell to Missouri Western

With head coach Mary Bruno looking on, Kansas City Kansas Community College All-American Blair Russell put the final touches on her transfer to Western Missouri State University where she’ll continue her volleyball career beginning next week. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)
With head coach Mary Bruno looking on, Kansas City Kansas Community College All-American Blair Russell put the final touches on her transfer to Western Missouri State University where she’ll continue her volleyball career beginning next week. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)

by Alan Hoskins
Kansas City Kanas Community College All-American Blair Russell will continue her volleyball career at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo.

An All-Jayhawk and All-District first team selection in helping lead the Lady Blue Devils to the consolation championship of the NJCAA Division II national tournament, Russell is KCKCC’s first player to be named to the NJCAA First All-America team.

A December graduate at KCKCC, Russell will transfer immediately and begin classes at MWSU next week.

“I talked to quite a few MIAA schools and had decided to wait until the spring to decide because I had had no time to go visit,” Russell said. “But I took a visit to MWSU because it was so close and just loved it – and they had the program I wanted to major in.”

“The entire Blue Devil coaching staff is so proud of Blair’s achievements both on the court and in the classroom,” said KCKCC head coach Mary Bruno. “Her work last spring was the turning point. She worked so hard and it showed by the All-American honors. A leader and great team player, she has the potential to make a major impact at Missouri Western. I just can’t wait to see what the next two years hold for her.”

Russell, who earned an associate’s degree at KCKCC with a major in journalism, will major in convergent media at MWSU.

“I really like photography and video editing,” Russell said. By transferring now, her goal is to graduate in December of 2017.

At Missouri Western, Russell will fill the same role she played at KCKCC, outside hitter where she was fifth in the nation in kills (516) and eighth in kills (3.94) per game.

“I was recruited to fill the spot of their outside hitter who graduated,” said Russell, who was recruited by head coach Marian Carbin and assistant Signe Mueller. “They really seemed to care about their players and program and think I’ll fit right in.” Russell is one of two Jayhawk Conference standouts joining the NWMU program this spring. “The setter from Fort Scott also signed,” Russell said.

The location of MWSU is a great fit for Russell. Her older sister and a former KCKCC player, Riley, is a nurse in the Kansas City area while her parents now live in Omaha.

A graduate of Marysville (Kan.) High School where she was a three-sport standout, Russell almost gave up competitive volleyball after injuring her shoulder her freshman year at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. However, once in contact with Bruno, Russell decided to continue at KCKCC, a decision she calls one of the best of her life.

“I had a really good time and am going to miss it,” Russell said.