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TAMUC – Sports


Volleyball knocks off No. 16 Central Oklahoma in four, sweeps Oklahoma Baptist.

STEPHENVILLE– The Texas A&M University-Commerce volleyball team picked up two wins on Saturday at the Tarleton State Invitational. The Lions defeated No. 16 Central Oklahoma in four sets (21-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-19) and also swept Oklahoma Baptist (25-15, 25-13, 25-12). The wins bring the Lions to 3-1 on the season.

The Lions return to action on Friday as they travel to Denver for the Colorado Premier Challenge. The Lions will face the defending national champion Concordia-St. Paul at 11 a.m. MDT on Friday and fellow 2017 South Central Regional qualifier Metro State at 2:30 MDT. The Lions’ two matches on Saturday will be decided Friday after pool play matches in the Challenge have been completed.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE (No. 16 Central Oklahoma)
– Jaryn Wacker (Austin – Vista Ridge) led the Lions with 18 kills, hitting an eye-popping .516. She also assisted on two blocks.
– Jaslyn Wacker (Austin – Vista Ridge) had 11 kills and added three blocks.
– Celeste Vela (Guadalajara, Mexico) was all over the court for the Lions, recording 10 kills, 12 digs, and 23 assists, as well as two blocks.
– Madison Luther (Sealy) had nine kills while Shelley Chapron (Houston – St. Pius X) had seven. Bina Njikam (Keller) had eight kills and led the team with five blocks.
– Rylie Fuentes (Robinson) led the Lion passing attack with 35 assists and also had 17 digs. Savannah Rutledge (The Woodlands – College Park) had 22 digs for the Lions.
– The Lion defense held No. 16 UCO to a hitting- percentage of .143 while hitting .219. The Lions had 62 assists in the match, while UCO had 39.

It was a back-and-forth game one from the start as the teams were tied six times early on. Midway through the set, the Lions held a 13-12 lead. Luther had multiple kills as the Lions brought their lead to two points before the Bronchos took control of the set late. They went on a 6-0 run and could not be caught, winning the first set 25-21.

The Lion attack caught fire in the second set, hitting .581 in the set. After trailing 3-2 early, the Lions scored five points in a row, thanks to some UCO errors and both a kill and an ace from Vela. Jaslyn Wacker had back-to-back kills to bring the Lion to lead to five points in the early part of the set.

UCO battled back, cutting the Lion lead to 13-12 at the halfway mark of the set. This time it was Jaryn Wacker with consecutive kills to build the Lion lead back up. Njikam and Jaryn Wacker closed out the set, recording two kills apiece late to give the Lions the 25-18 win in the second set.

The Bronchos began the third set on a run, building a quick 6-3 lead early. The Lions answered back with a 4-0 run to take their first lead of the set. That was part of an 8-2 run that gave the Lions a four-point lead at the midpoint mark of the third set. UCO battled back to get within one point but the Lions clamped down in the late part of the set, scoring four of the final five points to take set three 25-20.

The first half of the fourth set was evenly matched, as the teams were tied at 11 with neither team ever holding a lead of more than one point. The Lions then caught fire, scoring five points in a row to start to take control of the set. After the teams traded four points, the Lions again went on a run, scoring seven of the next nine points to come within one point of winning the match. UCO battled, scoring four points in a row but the Lions were able to get the final point they needed to win the match in four sets.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE (Oklahoma Baptist)
– The team hit .488 in the match, recording 48 kills on 45 assists. The Lions hit above .500 in both the second and third set.
– The Lion defense held Oklahoma Baptist to a hitting percentage of just .033.
– Shelley Chapron led the team with 10 kills, hitting .833. She also had four blocks.
– Jaslyn Wacker had eight kills and led the team with five blocks. Bina Njikam also had eight kills, hitting .800.
– Freshmen Madison Luther and Celeste Vela recorded seven kills each. Vela also had 14 assists.
– Rylie Fuentes led the team with 21 assists. Savannah Rutledge had 10 digs while Daniela Santos (Caracas, Venezuela) added eight to go along with two service aces. Riley Davidson also had six digs

The Lions scored three of the first four points of the match before the Bison answered back with three of the next four points to tie the match at four early. The Lions then caught fire, scoring seven of the next eight points. Vela had consecutive kills in the rally and the Lions held an 11-5 lead.

The Lions again went on a run midway through the set, scoring six unanswered points. The Lions ran away with the first game, winning 25-15.

The Lions began the second set on a tear, scoring 10 of the first 12 points. Five different Lions recorded kills during the rally. Chapron had three early kills as the Lions built their lead to 14-3 midway through the set. The Lions continued to apply the pressure, winning the second set 25-13.

The Bison took an early lead in the third set before A&M-Commerce scored five points in a row to take the lead for good. The Lions then had a 6-0 run to push their point lead to double-digits. The Lions scored six of the final seven points of the match to win the third set 25-12 and complete the sweep.



Lions sweep Black Hills State; split the first day at Tarleton Invitational.

STEPHENVILLE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce volleyball team opened up the 2018 season with a split of two matches at the Tarleton Invitational on Friday, dropping the opener to Harding before sweeping Black Hills State.

The Lions (1-1) will play two more matches at the Invitational on Saturday, taking on No. 18 Central Oklahoma (1-1) at 11:30 a.m. and Oklahoma Baptist (2-0) at 4:30 p.m.

– The Lions hit .189 in the match with 66 total kills. They started the match off hot with a .429 percentage and 19 kills in the first set.
– Jaslyn Wacker (Austin – Vista Ridge) had the year’s first double-double, throwing down a team-high 16 kills and chipping in on 10 total blocks.
– Shelley Chapron (Houston – St. Pius X) had 15 kills and was in on seven blocks. Bina Njikam (Keller) had 14 kills and also had seven blocks. Jaryn Wacker (Austin – Vista Ridge) had 10 kills.
– Savannah Rutledge (The Woodlands – College Park) had a team-best 28 digs, while newcomer Daniela Santos (Caracas, Venezuela) had 24 digs.
– Rylie Fuentes (Robinson) earned a double-double with a team-high 31 assists and 12 digs, while Carolina Machado (Sao Paulo, Brazil) also had a double-double with 17 assists and 10 digs. Riley Davidson (Commerce) had 11 digs.

The Lions started the season off with a roar, scoring six of the first seven points in the match, with Chapron throwing down kills on three of those points. The Bisons worked their way into the lead and were up 12-9 when the Lions punched the gas and scored five straight to regain the lead. Njikam had three kills in key moments down the stretch to put the Lions in a commanding position Chapron hammered down the final two points with kills and the Lions claimed a 25-19 set victory. A&M-Commerce scored 19 points on kills in the set.

The second set didn’t see either team pull away until a five-point Harding surge put the Bisons up 11-6 to force an A&M-Commerce timeout. The Lions could not close the margin to fewer than three points until the dying stages of the frame, but Harding’s 25-22 set win tied the match at one set apiece.

A&M-Commerce used a mid-set surge, on Santos’ serve, to pull away in the third set. Four straight kills and a service ace allowed the Lions to pull out to a 16-11 lead. The Bisons closed to within three points before the Lions stonewalled them with blocks on consecutive points to stretch the lead back out to six points. A&M-Commerce would go up 2-1 with the 25-17 set win.

A late run in the fourth set put the Lions in a position to close out the match before Harding edged its way back into contention. A&M-Commerce had match point on five occasions, but net violations and attack errors handed Harding a 27-25 set win, sending the match to a fifth set.

Harding used that momentum to jump out to a 5-1 lead in the fifth set, but the resilient Lions did not waver. A block by Jaslyn Wacker and Chapron tied the set at 12-12, setting up a tense few final moments. Oliver and Jaslyn Wacker teamed up for a block on Harding’s first match point to tie the set at 14-all. The Lions fought off three Harding match points, but the Bisons scored the final two points to close out the comeback, 17-15.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE (Black Hills State)
– Jaslyn Wacker led the Lions with 11 kills in the match, hitting .429. She also had two blocks.
– Madison Luther made her debut in the match and had 10 kills with a .563 hitting percentage. She also had a block and two digs.
– Bina Njikam added eight kills. Shelley Chapron led the team with three blocks and added six kills.
– Rylie Fuentes had 19 assists while fellow setter Celeste Vela tallied 17.
– Savannah Rutledge led the defensive charge, recording 12 digs. Vela had nine digs and Daniela Santos also had nine digs.
– The Lion hitters turned it into hyperdrive in the third set, hitting a blazing .615 to conclude the sweep. Five Lions hit better than .300 in the match.

After giving up the first point of the match, the Lions answered back with four consecutive points to take an early. Vela had both a kill and an ace to bring the Lions’ lead to 6-2 before the Yellow Jackets scored four of the next five points to cut the Lion lead to one point.

The Lions then took command of the set. Njikam had three kills during the Lions’ 7-1 run that put them ahead 14-8 midway through the set. Luther recorded three kills late in the set as the Lions took set one 25-21.

The Lions took a 4-1 lead early in the second set before BHSU scored three points in a row to tie the game early on. The Lions benefitted from a few Yellow Jacket errors as they went on another small run, driving their lead to five points at the midway mark of the set.

After BHSU cut the Lion lead to one at 17-16, the Lions went on a big rally to end the set. Wacker had three kills late in the Lions’ 8-2 run and A&M-Commerce won the second set 25-18.

The Lions came out firing in the third set, scoring seven of the first eight points. Back-to-back kills from Wacker pushed the Lion lead to 11-4 near the midpoint of the set. The Lions continued to play well in the set, never giving the Yellow Jackets a glimmer of hope to get back in. An ace from Riley Davidson sealed the 25-14 third-set win and sealed the three-set sweep.



Carthel finalizes 2018 Lion Football staff; Andy Townsend promoted to Associate Head Coach

COMMERCE – Texas A&M University-Commerce head football coach Colby Carthel has announced the promotion of Andy Townsend to associate head coach and the addition of Paul Johnston and John Jones to the Lion coaching staff.

“Andy has done a fantastic job since the day he got here, helping elevate our program to a perennial national power,” Carthel said. “While his coaching resume speaks for itself, his work off the field has really made a positive impact on our program and student-athletes.”

Townsend began coaching at A&M-Commerce in 2015 and has assisted the program in numerous facets, including director of football operations, defensive ends coach, outside linebackers coach, and NFL liaison.

During his tenure with the Lions, Townsend has served as the position coach for seven all-Lone Star Conference players. In the 2017 National Championship season, the Lions finished 9th in the country in interceptions, 11th in defensive passing efficiency, 13th in tackles for loss, 15th in scoring and 20th in both red zone defense and sacks. The Lions finished with the best defense in the LSC with the best passing defense and the second-best rushing defense, while leading the LSC in turnovers forced. Four different linebackers recorded interceptions and the team had 44 sacks on the season, the most by any scholarship team in the state of Texas.

In addition to his on field duties, Townsend has been a major contributor to the Lions’ success and efficiency in operations. He has had the primary responsibility on travel arrangements, including four playoff road trips in five weeks on the way to the 2017 National Championship. He has been the coordinator of the annual Lone Star Pro Day and Small School Combine on the A&M-Commerce campus. Townsend also hosts and facilitates the visits of professional scouts as they look for the next crop of Lions In The League. In 2017, four Lions were invited to NFL camps.

“Coaches Paul Johnston and John Jones may just be the two best recruits we picked up this off-season!” Carthel said. “Paul’s 20-plus years of experience as a Texas high school coach made him the perfect hire for our program, and the football resume of John as both a Division I player and successful high school coach really set him apart from the rest. Both of these coaches will play pivotal roles in helping mold the lives of our student-athletes and continuing our charge of playing championship level football each year.”

Johnston comes to A&M-Commerce after a successful coaching career in the Texas high school ranks. He was most recently the head coach at nearby Campbell HS, where his Indians defeated Fannindel, 125-122, in 2017 to set the state record for most combined points in a game. He has also previously served as the head coach at Shiner St. Paul HS, Frankston HS, and Fruitvale HS.

Johnston’s primary responsibilities with the Lions will come as the director of football operations, as well as assisting in offensive quality control.

Jones comes to A&M-Commerce after a stellar collegiate playing career and high school coaching stint. Jones will assist in the coaching of the Lions’ offensive line, which is one of the top units in the nation. Jones played in 37 games on the offensive line at Baylor from 2007-11. In his time in Waco, the Bears experienced an exceptional turnaround, as Jones’ final game was an Alamo Bowl victory – Baylor’s first bowl win in 19 years.

Following his time in Waco, Jones returned to his alma mater – Cedar Hill HS – where he had helped lead the Longhorns to their first state title in 2006. Jones coached the offensive line and was part of a staff which guided Cedar Hill to 64 wins in in six seasons, including state championships in 2013 and 2014. The Longhorns were state finalists three times and advanced to the state quarterfinals four times.



No. 1 Lions’ season opener vs. A&M-Kingsville to be nationally televised on ESPN3 as part of Division II Showcase

COMMERCE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce football season opener against Texas A&M University-Kingsville will be nationally televised on the ESPN3 streaming service as part of the NCAA Division II Showcase, as announced by the NCAA on Friday.

Kickoff for the Lions’ Student Appreciation Night game against their long-time Lone Star Conference rival is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 30. Tickets are available by calling (903) 468-8756 or visiting

Lion fans are encouraged to pack the stands of Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium to show our Best In Class gameday experience. Tailgating begins at 2 p.m. Thursday, with The Pride Marching Band leading fans into the stadium at 6:30 p.m. The National Championship Student Section will lead the team onto the field as the ESPN3 broadcast begins.

This is the Lions’ third consecutive game to be nationally televised on the ESPN family of networks. A&M-Commerce’s national semifinal win over Harding was televised on ESPN3, while the National Championship Game win over West Florida was televised on ESPN2.

A&M-Commerce has had football games televised nationally in each of the last four seasons, becoming one of the most featured schools in Division II as the program has risen to the top of the national charts.

The Lions enter the game ranked No. 1 nationally in the American Football Coaches’ Association poll. They are also the preseason favorite to win the Lone Star Conference.