- Suberu to retire after 15 years
Michael Bauer | Sports Editor
After 15 years of coaching and rebuilding the program to conference prominence, head volleyball coach Ibraheem Suberu has announced his retirement.
The announcement was made Thursday, Nov. 21, just two days after the Gorilla’s season came to an end with a 16-16 overall record.
Suberu said in a Pittsburg State Athletics press release that his decision to retire was a part of his desire to spend more time with his family in his native country, Nigeria.
Suberu took over the program in 1999, and began the process of reversing volleyball’s consistently disappointing history. Prior to his arrival, the Gorillas had an all-time win percentage of only 35 percent.
His inaugural season saw only two victories, but the team improved to a record of 17-11 in 2001. In 2003, the Gorillas won 26 matches. It was the first 20-win season in 11 years.
The banner year also featured a spot in the NCAA Division II Tournament. It would be the first of six trips Pitt State would make to the national tournament in the decade.
“Making this decision was very hard on a lot of levels,” Suberu said. “I am sure it will come as a surprise to the many wonderful people who are significant in many ways to our program.”
Suberu leaves with an overall record of 264-237 as head coach. The Gorillas set the school record in volleyball victories during his tenure.
Assistant coach Jenny Mueller has been named the Gorillas’ interim head coach, effective immediately.
Mueller is in her third season as an assistant. She has previously served as head coach at William Woods University from 2008-10, and was also a head coach at Coffeyville Community College for three years.
- PSU men fall to 0-2 with loss to William Jewell
Michael Bauer | sports editor
The William Jewell Cardinals delivered the second loss for the Pitt State Gorilla men’s basketball team for the season, cruising to a 93-80 victory on Tuesday, Nov. 19, in Liberty, Mo.
Sophomore Jake Bullard scored all 19 of his points in the second half to lead the Gorillas.
Trailing 43-28 at halftime, the Gorillas managed to cut the deficit from 23 points to 11 late in the game.
But, it would not be enough.
“The one positive I will talk about is I thought at the end of the game, we showed a little bit of fight,” said Kevin Muff, head coach, in a postgame interview with KKOW. “(We showed) a little bit of toughness and continued to battle, compete and got up and got after it,”
The Cardinals used a 13-3 scoring run in the first half and then used a 9-0 run to take a 22-point advantage in the second half.
“We absolutely got our rear-ends handed to us tonight by a team that executed extremely well on the offensive end,” Muff said. “It’s not like we didn’t know what they were going to run and how they’re going to run it but we refused to guard the way we had talked about.”
The Gorillas were without junior Devon Branch, who was out with an injury from last week’s game, forcing Bullard to step up to take over the scoring duties, even though he didn’t get his first basket until after halftime.
But Muff was critical of Bullard’s first half performance.
“Early on, Jake spent too much time with the ball,” Muff said. “As a leader, he can’t go zero in the first half. I don’t care what he ended up with but he can’t set the tone like that offensively and when he gets mad and aggressive, he was good in the second half and got to the rim.”
It was William Jewell’s first win of the season after consecutive losses to Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri State. They are now 1-2.
It was also revenge for the Cardinals who received pay back from last year’s 74-69 loss to the Gorillas in Pittsburg.
“Give them credit too. They did hit a lot of deep shots and they made some tough ones,” Muff said. “But, at the same time, we did very little to take them out of what they’re very good at.”
For PSU, the next few days of practice will not be a walk through the park.
Muff says the Gorillas will be grinding it out.
“The next two days need to be grind it out and basically mano-a-mano, bloodbath-type practices,” he said. “Our practices haven’t been intense like we played that last 10-minute stretch there and we’ve got to make our practices more competitive and guys have to respond better.”
The Pittsburg State basketball team will get to spend the next few days at home with the Pitt State Classic on Friday, Nov. 22, and Saturday, Nov. 23.
The Gorillas will face the Bethany Swedes on Friday at 8 p.m. before taking on Avila University on Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Gorillas dropped to 0-2 for the season.
“We’re going to figure some things out. We obviously need to make some adjustments . . . our personnel . . . but we’ve got to get more solid and being a better team on the defensive end,” Muff said. “It’s not 1-on-1, it’s not one person, it’s a group effort on the defensive end and we’ve got to be better at it.”
- Three in a row
Westhoff hits career-high with 28 points against Henderson State
Dakota Smith | reporter
The Pittsburg State women’s basketball team has been on a roll, winning its last three games, all against Central region opponents. The Gorillas are sitting at 4-2 overall.
The first of those three wins came against Henderson State on Thursday, Nov.14.
The Gorillas took a 42-30 lead going into the break. Pitt State continued its success in the second half and came away with a 76-56 victory.
Junior Morgan Westhoff led the Gorillas with a career-high 28 points and added six rebounds. Junior Lizzy Jeronimus had 14 points and seven rebounds. Pitt State shot 43 percent from the field and held Henderson State to just 32 percent from the field.
“I was impressed with the way we played defense,” head coach Lane Lord said.
The second win came against Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday, Nov. 16.
The game was back and forth in the first half and the Gorillas led at the half 44-39. Pitt State led by as many as 10 in the second half and came away with a victory by a final score of 82-75.
“Lizzy is Lizzy; she did what she always does,” Lord said.
Jeronimus led the Gorillas with a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Alexa Bordewick had 18 points and junior Brigit Hesser added 11 for the Gorillas. Pitt State shot 52 percent from the field and held Minnesota-Duluth to just 38 percent.
The Gorillas then got their third win against William Jewell on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Pitt State was 0-3 all-time against William Jewell coming into the game. The Gorillas jumped out to a huge lead in the first half and led going into the locker room. Pitt State led by as many as 29 in the second half and came away with the victory by a final score of 80-58.
Westhoff led four Gorillas in double figures with 17 points. Jeronimus had 15 points, sophomore Cathy Brugman had 11, and junior Antqunita Reed added 10 points. The Gorillas shot 52 percent from the field and held the Cardinals to just 29 percent shooting.
Pitt State’s next game will be against Northwest Missouri State on Sunday, Nov. 24.
Pitt State then goes on the road to take on Quincy (Ill.) on Nov. 27.
- Finishing record, 16-16
Season ends in first round of playoffs
Dakota Smith | reporter
The Pitt State volleyball team saw its season come to a close with a loss in the first round of the MIAA playoffs to the Central Missouri Jennies.
Playing in Warrensburg, Mo., the Gorillas tried to get revenge on Central Missouri for beating them in four sets earlier this season.
But the Jennies proved why they were the No. 1-seeded team in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) tournament, by beating PSU in three straight sets by scores of 25-17, 28-26 and 25-10.
Senior Abbie Smith led the Gorillas in kills with just six. Hansford led Pitt State in assists with 20. Senior Kirsten Erickson led the Gorillas in digs with 10. Central Missouri had 31 more kills than Pitt State and outhit the Gorillas .303 to .083.
PSU kept things close in the first set, coming within three of the Jennies. But it didn’t last. Central Missouri went on a 6-1 run and took a 25-17 win.
Both sides traded punches in the second set. PSU never disappeared by any deficit over two. That is, until the Jennies went on another late run, to take a 15-11 lead before the Gorillas responded with a 4-0 run of their own. PSU took the first lead of the match at 17-16 and a Jennie error saw Pitt State take a 2—point advantage.
After Central Missouri took a 3-point run to take a 22-20 advantage, the Gorillas fought back and tied the set. But the Jennies scored the final two points to win 28-26.
In the third set, Central Missouri did not trail at all and cruised to a 25-10 victory to finish off the Gorillas.
Central Missouri will go on to face fourth-seeded Central Oklahoma in the semi-finals on Friday. Nebraska-Kearney and Washburn won their opening round games on Tuesday and advance to the semi-final round.
With the loss, the Gorillas ended their season with a 16-16 overall record and a 6-10 league record.
Before the Gorillas made the playoffs, they had to get a win against archrival Missouri Southern on Saturday, Nov. 16.
“Our serving must be dominant and consistent,” said head coach Ibraheem Suberu. The Gorillas did just that, beating the Lions in straight sets by score of 25-13, 25-13, 25-17.
It was senior night for the Gorillas and Suberu was pleased with the home crowd atmosphere at John Lance Arena.
“The environment was electric.” said Suberu.
Freshman Madison Mosier led the Gorillas in kills with 10. Smith had eight kills, and junior Paula Okrutna and sophomore Haylee Gregory added seven kills apiece. Sophomore Hayley Hansford led the Gorillas in assists with 34 and freshman Ashlen Schwartz led Pitt State in digs with 10. The Gorillas outhit the Lions .322 to .010.
Not only did Pittsburg State need to beat the Lions to get into the MIAA tournament but they also needed some outside help to qualify.
The Gorillas made the tournament because Southwest Baptist and Lindenwood lost their last two games and Pitt State held the tiebreaker against both teams.
Lions shock Gorillas for historic win
Michael Bauer | sports editor
As the final seconds ticked away, all the Pitt State football players could do was watch.
With Missouri Southern fans shouting, “We beat Pitt!” what seemed to be a result unheard of became a painful reality with the Gorillas’ 35-21 upset loss on Saturday, Nov. 16, at Carnie Smith Stadium.
Not only did PSU lose to MSSU for the first time since 1993, but the team’s playoff hopes went down the drain as well. Instead, PSU will settle for an invitation to the Mineral Water Bowl in Excelsior Springs, Mo., on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Before kickoff, the Gorillas honored 20 senior players, including three-time All-America linebacker Nate Dreiling.
“Playing with these guys for five years was a pleasure. I feel bad I let them down,” Dreiling said. “It’s tough to see five years of dreaming come to an end.”
Dreiling, like most of this year’s senior class, was responsible for the Gorillas’ national championship in 2011. In the end, he would see the postseason only once in his time at PSU.
“I put a lot of hard work in here and regret nothing,” Dreiling said. “I don’t know how you can be remembered now.”
Those who are not graduating this year took the blame themselves as well.
“It’s really tough,” said junior quarterback Anthony Abenoja. “We had a great senior class and it sucks to let them go out like this.”
Many of the players were left heartbroken as the Gorillas spent the entire day playing catchup, but could not get a break.
“It’s tough, but you have to give Missouri Southern credit,” said Tim Beck, head coach. “We’ve got a great senior class and that’s what made today so tough.”
Abenoja went 12 for 28 for a total of 134 yards through the air; he had one touchdown pass.
Sophomore wide receiver Marquise Cushon had four catches for 53 yards and one touchdown while sophomore running back Jeff Seybold Jr. had 17 rushes for 80 yards and one touchdown.
The trouble began when the Lions marched 51 yards on seven plays to score off a 5-yard run by running back Terrance Allen.
“The wind was a big factor but there were things in the beginning that hurt us,” Beck said.
Dreiling was taken out of the game in the first quarter with an injured shoulder but would return on the next defensive series.
The linebacker tied the MIAA record for career tackles in the contest. He made a game-high 14 stops to record 489 tackles.
But in the end, a dejected Dreiling didn’t care much about records.
“Obviously,” he said, “it would have been nicer to break the record if I had made more plays, but you can keep the record. I don’t care.”
Abenoja had a rough time getting much going in the passing game. He had at least four snaps that were nearly fumbled.
“The o-line did a good job. It was all on me,” Abenoja said. “It’s on us. We didn’t do what we needed.”
A touchdown pass from McDowell to wide receiver Michael Nelson for 25 yards doubled the Lions’ lead, with 50 seconds left to play before halftime.
Pitt State did get some momentum going with a quick response, six-play, 45-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to Cushon for three yards.
But it didn’t last. The Lions were in for a dogfight, and it showed as McDowell scored on a 5-yard run with 7:28 in the third quarter.
Abenoja responded on a 4-yard touchdown with 3:04 left in the third but wide receiver Jocqui Davis scored off a 52-yard run to keep the momentum in Southern’s favor.
With the Gorillas at 9-2, St. Cloud State (10-1) moved ahead of PSU into the playoffs.
The Gorillas will get one final chance to send this year’s senior class out on a high against the 7-4 Southwest Minnesota State in the Mineral Water Bowl.
But for Dreiling, the days of playing at Carnie Smith Stadium are over.
“It’s an honor to play here. It’s unbelievable the support the community gives us,” he said.