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TAMUC – Sports

Midwestern State rallies to down Lion Football

ARLINGTON – In a matchup circled on both teams’ calendars, the Midwestern State Mustangs downed the Texas A&M University-Commerce football team, 31-30 at Choctaw Stadium on Saturday evening. 

The Mustangs trailed all game but took the lead in the last minute of the game on a five-yard touchdown pass by Dillon Sterling-Cole to Sam Hodges. All three touchdown passes for Sterling-Cole came in the second half. 

In the final drive of the night, A&M-Commerce received the ball near midfield thanks to an MSU penalty in the ensuing kickoff return, but they broke up the last-second hail mary attempt in the end zone. 

The Lions played their first neutral-site game since 2014 and are now 1-1 on the season overall and start 0-1 in Lone Star Conference play. The Mustangs are now 2-0 on the season and 1-0 in LSC play. There were 6,712 fans in the stands for the first game of this two-year series in Arlington. 

A&M-Commerce jumped out to a 23-0 lead in the first half. Kevin Leedee (Cy Ridge) started the scoring with a three-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. It was the first touchdown of the young season for the Lions and first for Leedee in a Lions uniform, a transfer from Tulane. 

The Lions extended their lead to 13-0 in the first quarter on another touchdown catch. This time, it was Chance Cooper (Leander – Rouse) from Jaiave Magalei (Tacoma, Wash.). Cooper led all Lions receivers with 97 receiving yards on ten catches. Kenedy Snell (Waxahachie) caught one pass for 52 yards. 

In the second quarter, a 34-yard kick from Jake Viquez (Rockwall) made it 17-0. Antonio Leali’ie’e (Copperas Cove) caught an eight-yard pass from Magalei and ran it in to give the Lions a 23-0 lead. The Lions missed the extra-point attempt following that touchdown. 

Leali’ie’e finished just three yards shy of a 100-yard rushing game. He also had an eight-yard catch. 

The Mustangs picked up their first points of the game at the 5:30 mark in the second quarter. Dylon Davis intercepted Magalei’s pass and ran it in for the touchdown. Ritse Vaes converted a 42-yard field goal to make it 23-10, which was halftime. 

Magalei had three touchdown passes in the first half on 99 yards. The Lions used three quarterbacks throughout the game. Magalei had 197 yards on 13 for 28 passing in the game, Eric Rodriguez (Missouri City – Fort Bend Travis) had four completions for 18 yards. Brock Nellor, who made his college debut (Mt. Vernon), had two rushes for eight yards. 

In the first drive of the second half, the Lions worked their way down the field, and Eric Rodriguez (Missouri City – Fort Bend Travis) sneaked it in from the one-yard line to open up a 30-10 lead for the Lions. 

A&M-Commerce had three turnovers in the game. The Mustangs capitalized on the extra opportunities to score 10 points off turnovers. 

The Mustangs’ Dillon Sterling-Cole hit Kylan Harrison for a six-yard coach to cut the deficit to 30-17 on the next drive after the touchdown from Rodriguez. 

After the defense held A&M-Commerce to back-to-back punts and recovered from a fumble on the punt return, forced by Jemal Williams (Inglewood, Calif.) and retrieved by Xavier Morris (Converse – Judson), the Mustangs offense came within six on a two-yard touchdown reception by Ja’Marzeyea Arvie. 

The Mustangs held the Lions to a punt on a drive that lasted over three minutes in the fourth quarter. 

Morris led the team with eight tackles. Michael Noble (Orange, Calif.) had seven tackles, and Dominion Ezinwa (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.). D’Angelo Ellis (Cy Ridge) caught an interception and returned it for seven yards.


A&M-Commerce hosts No. 1 West Florida in the first “true” home game of 2021 next Saturday, September 18, with kickoff scheduled for 6:00 pm. That game is the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championship game rematch, and you can find ticket information at LionAthletics.Com/Tickets.

Lion Volleyball closes out Colorado Premier with a split on day two.

DENVER, Colo. – Tasked with facing the defending NCAA Division II National Champions, the Texas A&M University-Commerce volleyball team pushed Cal State San Bernardino to five sets. However, A&M-Commerce beat Lynn University by 3-1 to split the last day of the Colorado Premier at Auraria Event Center on Saturday. 

The Lions took on three ranked teams and one team currently receiving votes in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Rankings this weekend. A&M-Commerce went 1-3 in those matches.

“We had a steep learning curve, opening up the season against teams this good,” said coach Craig Case. “They are making small adjustments, and we’re having to make massive adjustments. When our team competed really well, I was proud of them and the adjustments we made.” 

“We did have some stretches where we didn’t compete well. We identified those and need to work on them. It was a really good experience for us overall, it should build confidence for us moving forward.” 

Nicki Gonelli (Round Rock – Stony Point) and Celeste Vela (Guadalajara, Mexico) set their career-highs in kills and assists, respectively, in the first match, only to break them a couple of hours later. 

MATCH 1: Cal State Bernardino 3, A&M-Commerce 2

The Coyotes took the first set, 25-16, after starting the match on a 4-0 run. The Lions began the second set leading 8-2 and extended it to 12-4 on a kill by Reese Fetty (Farmersville). 

A&M-Commerce withstood a 5-1 run from Cal State San Bernardino and answered with a 4-0 run of its own, highlighted by an assisted block from Fetty and Nicki Gonelli (Round Rock – Stony Point). The Coyotes came within one but could not tie it, and the Lions took the second set, 25-22, on a kill by Gonelli.

“We identified a lot of things that we needed to work after yesterday,” said Case. “We started a bit slow, but once we started doing things that we worked on, we were able to focus on Cal State San Bernardino.” 

The Lions led 15-12 in the third, but a 5-1 run by the Coyotes got them back in the set. A&M-Commerce retook the lead at 19-17 on a kill by Sydney Andersen (Placienda, Calif.) and extended it to 21-18 on an assisted block by Fetty and Andersen. 

Cal State San Bernardino won seven of the last nine points to win the set 25-23 and took a 2-1 lead. 

The fourth set was tied at 21 when a kill by Essence Allen (Longview – Tatum) started a 3-0 run, and the Lions forced a deciding fifth set by winning the fourth set, 25-23, on a kill by Gonelli, who had 21 kills in the match, which was a career-high at the time. 

In the deciding set, the defending national champions inched closer to victory by going on an 8-0 run with the set tied at two. They won the match with a 15-5 win in the fifth. 

Vela had 43 assists, 14 digs, Maiya Dickie (Huntsville), and Allen had ten kills each. Lyric Hebert (Arvada, Colo.) led the way with 17 digs, Riley Davidson (Commerce) had 12 digs. Ashley Pennington (Frisco – Liberty) had four aces.

“I was really proud of how Ashley played today,” added Case. “She had a noticeable impact in our defensive energy and effort as soon as we put her in. She was a really big reason for our success today. It might not show up on the box score, but certainly was the case.” 

MATCH 2: A&M-Commerce 3, Lynn 1

The Lions’ hitters were set up for success all afternoon thanks to career-high 54 assists by Celeste Vela on the day she had 97.

“She was making really good decisions and giving her hitters really good chance to be successful. In the match against Lynn, it was really the best decision making she’s made since she has been a Lion, that was showing as we were able to put a lot of balls away,” said Case.

Gonelli’s career-high of 21 kills lasted just about three hours as she had 22 in the last match of the day. 

A&M-Commerce won the first set 25-23, Lynn took the second set by a score of 25-23. Lions took the last two sets by matching scores of 25-20. 

Andersen had 19 kills against the Fighting Knights. Hebert had 14 digs, Vela had 13 and Allen had nine. 

The Fighting Knights outhit the Lions, .275 to .227 percent in the losing effort.

“To change the personnel as much as we did this weekend, our team really did a good job staying engaged and ready to do whatever they needed to do when we called on them,” concluded Case.  


A&M-Commerce plays its first two matches at home next weekend to start conference play against Eastern New Mexico on Friday at 6:00 pm and host West Texas A&M at 1:00 pm on Saturday at the Field House.


Lion Volleyball falls to two nationally-ranked teams to start the season.

DENVER, Colo. – In the first two matches of the 2021 fall season, the Texas A&M University-Commerce volleyball team fell to two nationally ranked teams on the first day of the Colorado Premier at the Auraria Event Center on Friday. 

No. 10 Central Missouri defeated A&M-Commerce by 3-1, and No. 20 MSU-Denver downed A&M-Commerce, 3-0. The set score in the match against the Jennies was 25-20, 22-25, 25-14, and 25-21 in favor of Central Missouri. However, MSU-Denver won in straight sets, 25-21, 25-22, and 25-15. 

MATCH ONE: No. 10 Central Missouri 3, A&M-Commerce 1

The Jennies took the first set by a score of 25-20. They jumped out to a 15-6 lead in the middle of the set on a block by Hannah Engelken. A&M-Commerce won four out of five points to pull to within 24-20 but lost the set on a kill by Ally Offerdahl. 

The second set was tied at 10 when the Lions went on a 5-0 lead to build some cushion. The Jennies used a timeout in that stretch as well. Off the timeout, Central Missouri pulled to within two, but a kill and two-straight aces by Celeste Vela (Guadalajara, Mexico) pushed the lead back to five. 

The Jennies forced the Lions to use a timeout when they cut the deficit to 22-21, but a kill by Vela followed by a kill by Bella Schmukal (Rockwall – Heritage Christian) gave A&M-Commerce three set points. The Lions won the second set 25-22 on a kill by Vela. In the match, Vela had 12 kills. She led the team with 27 assists and fell three digs shy of a triple-double. 

Both teams went back and forth to start the third set. Central Missouri pulled away from A&M-Commerce by going on an 8-1 run with the match tied at eight. The Jennies closed out the third set, 25-14. The Lions did win three of the five points before the set point. 

Like the second and third set, they knotted up the fourth at eight. The Lions built a 15-12 lead by winning four of five points and forcing the Jennies to use a timeout after a kill from Essence Allen (Longview – Tatum). The Jennies used the timeout to their advantage and went on a 4-0 run, forcing the Lions to use one of their timeouts. 

The Jennies took command of the fourth set with the match tied at 18 by winning the following four points and had four opportunities to close out the match, leading 24-20. Instead, they won the fourth set, 25-21, thus winning the match 3-1. 

Nicki Gonelli (Round Rock – Stony Point) led the team with 13 kills. She also had three digs. Lyric Hebert (Arvada, Colo.) had team-high 16 kills, and Dickie had two solo blocks and three assisted. 

Fifteen Lions saw action in the first match, including true freshman Reese Fetty (Farmersville), who made her collegiate debut. 

MATCH TWO: No. 20 MSU-Denver 3, A&M-Commerce 0

Playing on their home court, MSU-Denver stormed to a 12-7 lead in the first set. An ace by Fetty cut the Roadrunners’ lead to 21-20, but they won four of the next five to win the set, 25-21. The Lions had an attacking percentage of just .143 in the set. 

The Lions jumped out to the early lead in the second. They led by as much as seven points. Trailing 18-11, Roadrunners started their comeback effort slowly but steadily. The Lions led 22-20, but the Roadrunners won the following four points to win the set 25-22. A&M-Commerce surrendered 15 of the last 22 points of the set. 

The third set was close to starting, with both teams tied at eight. However, the Roadrunners ran away with the set by going on a 10-2 run from that point. Finally, MSU-Denver clinched the match on a kill by Ember Canty to give the Roadrunners a 25-15 win in the third set. 

Gonelli led the team again with seven kills. Sydney Andersen (Placienda, Calif.) and Dickie had six kills each. Veleste had 30 assists, and Hebert had ten digs. Vela had eight digs, and Riley Davidson (Commerce) had six digs. 

MSU-Denver outhit A&M-Commerce, .413 to .219 in the match. 


After the first day of action at the Colorado Premier, teams will be reseeded based on the records on day one at both MSU-Denver and Regis. The Lions play two matches on Saturday. The opponent, time, and location will be announced later in the day on Friday.


Speer and Towsend finish 1-2 at East Texas Shootout.

COMMERCE – The duo of Alex Speer and Tanner Townsend finished in the top-two spots at the East Texas Shootout for the host Texas A&M University-Commerce at Centennial Park on Friday. The men took second in the eight-kilometer race, while the women raced three individual runners, who all had top-25 finishes. 

Speer (Robinson) and Townsend (Royse City) raced side by side for the entirety of the race. Speer pulled away in the last 100 meters and clocked in a time of 25:15.80. Townsend finished just three seconds later with a time of 25:18.72. The two helped the Lions finish second in a field of seven teams. 

Texas-Dallas took first place with its top-three runners finishing 3-4-5. A&M-Commerce’s top-three runners finished 1-2-10.


Nicholas Deutsch (Frisco) ran a time of 26:24.94 to finish 10th. Chris Navarrette (Laredo – Lyndon B. Johnson), who ran a time of 27:05.99, Marshall Pate (Kaufman), who clocked in a time of 27:07.73, and Jan Lanfert (Buckenhof, Germany), who recorded a time of 27:18.28, finished in the top-25. 

Mykel Smith (Fort Worth – North Crowley) finished 29th with a time of 27:33.60, and Joshua Schutter (Rowlett – Sachse) rounded out the Lions group with a 32nd place finish and a time of 27:53.9. 


The Lions fielded just three runners, thus were not eligible for the team standings. However, Alondra Campa (Kaufman) ran the top-time on the team for the second straight week. She finished 19th with a time of 20:33.11. 

Edith Branch (Denton – Lake Dallas) clocked in a time of 20:47.16 to finish 22nd. Yenifer Martinez (Irving – Nimitz) was right behind the top-two runners, finishing 24th with a time of 20:58.35. 

Dallas Baptist finished first in the team standings. The top-three and four of the first five runners to finish were from DBU. Emma O’Donnell finished first with a time of 18:41.25. 


A&M-Commerce heads on the road for the first out-of-state race of the year. The Lions participate in the Southern Stampede hosted by Missouri Southern in Joplin, Mo., on Saturday, September 18.

Campuzano scores in Lion Soccer loss to Mountain Lions

COMMERCE – Despite nine shots in the second half and seven saves from Jen Peters, the Texas A&M-University women’s soccer team fell 3-1 to Colorado-Colorado Springs at the Lion Soccer Field on Saturday afternoon. 

The Lions and the Mountain Lions met for the second time last week, with the visiting team winning both meetings. A&M-Commerce is now 2-2 on the year, while UC-Colorado Springs improves to 3-1. 

The Mountain Lions dominated the possession in the first half and took 17 shots, including ten on goal. Peters (Allen) stepped in to make seven saves in the first 45 minutes. She faced two shots on goal in the second half, saving one.

Makayla Merlo scored in the 20th minute for the Mountain Lions, heading in a cross pass from Makenna Fowler. Merlo added another goal in the second half, scoring from about 25-yards out. 

The second goal for UC-Colorado Springs came in the 44th minute off the foot of Fie Steenberg. 

The Lions came out in the second half as the more aggressive team and put shots on goal, including two that come off the post. Chloe DeShazer had three saves in the match. 

A&M-Commerce cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 65th minute on the first goal of the season for Leslie Campuzano (Garland), assisted by Karalie Morrison (North Richland Hills).

Campuzano created the scoring opportunity by forcing a turnover in the Mountain Lions’ attacking half of the field. She sprinted down to get the ball, passed it to Morrison, who passed it right back to Campuzano for the goal. 

The senior forward had four shots for the Lions, while Morrison had two. Three players had three shots for the Mountain Lions. 


A&M-Commerce plays its last non-conference match before the Lone Star Conference play on Tuesday at Oklahoma Baptist. The match starts at 4:00 pm. The Lions begin conference play at the Dallas Baptist Patriots on September 22.