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Saturday, November 17, 2018
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Metro Sports Report

'New' Eagles begin year ranked No. 5

Bryan Petersen thought he'd have lots of experienced guards on the Kirkwood men's basketball team this season, but then the exodus began.

Bailey Kale left the team a year early to pursue a music career. Tajen Ross quit to pursue a modeling career. Jay Small transferred to a school closer to home so he could play basketball AND golf at the collegiate level. LJ Stansbury and Semaj Raj left for schools closer to their homes as well.

That stripped the Eagles of five guards and 29.1 points and left them with no experience in the backcourt, unless you count Traivon Washington, who got into three games last season before red-shirting.

Petersen is entering his sixth year at Kirkwood with a 126-34 record and one national title, but it's the first time he's starting a new year with a brand-new backcourt.

"That's been unique," he said. "To be honest, I'm a little bit more concerned because of that."

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Mustangs rally for tourney victory

The Mount Mercy women's volleyball team refused to let its season come to an end on its own floor Wednesday night.

The Mustangs rallied for a 3-2 victory over Missouri Valley in the first round of the Heart of America Conference tournament at the Hennessey Recreation Center.

Mount Mercy (20-13) will vist 21st-ranked Central Methodist (28-5) in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament Saturday at 11 a.m.

Missouri Valley won the first two sets 25-23, 25-21, but the Mustangs stormed back in the face of elimination to win the next three sets 27-25, 25-17 and 15-5.

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Mustangs aiming for NAIA tourney again

The Mount Mercy men's basketball team played in the NAIA national tournament in 2016 and 2017, but the Mustangs failed to qualify for the tournament last season and finished with a 15-16 record.

That stunk.

"They've tasted success. So last year is supposed to stink," said Coach Aaron Jennings. "You're supposed to say, 'That's not the way things are supposed to be done here. Let's put in the work and let's get this turned around.'

"I'm coaching this year with the expectation that's happening," he said. "I'm excited to get going."

Mount Mercy has plenty of experience on the club and there's a strong senior class that's been bolstered by talented newcomers, giving Jennings lots of options heading into the season opener Thursday night at Viterbo.

"We're going to play fast, we're going to create tempo," he said, anxious to begin the season.

The Mustangs averaged 81.7 points last seasson but allowed 81.5, which led to their so-so campaign. This year Jennings would like to average 87 or 88 per game, but allow only 77 for a healthy 10-point advantage.

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Muhl begins 30th year with 7 titles

Kim Muhl originally wanted to be the men's basketball coach at Kirkwood Community College back in 1988, but the Eagles hired Ted Oglesby for the job instead.

Shortly later, Kirkwood wondered if Muhl was interested in being their women's basketball coach -- he was the girls basketball coach at Norway High School at the time - so they arranged a meeting for him to meet with Kirkwood president Norm Nielsen at 7:30 one morning.

"He offered me the job before I walked out the door," said Muhl, who remembered he was dressed casually in coaching togs for that pivotal meeting with the former school president.

That was 30 years, 863 victories and seven national titles ago.

Muhl would have laughed at anyone who would have predicted that level of success for the Hall of Fame coach. "I would have said they'd been drinking," he remarked, smiling at the absurdity of the notion.

Muhl, 63, begins his 30th year at Kirkwood this weekend with two games at the State Fair Classic in Sedalia, Mo., facing Butler Community College on Friday and Dodge City Community College on Saturday.

His first national title came in 1997 and the seventh came 20 years later in 2017, when the Eagles sailed through the season with a perfect 37-0 record. Kirkwood was the national runner-up last and finished 34-4, which means they've won 71 of their last 75 games.

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Mustangs spike Clarke in upset victory

The Mount Mercy women's volleyball team finished the regular season in style Monday night.

The Mustangs upset Clarke, 25-21, 25-18, 19-25, 16-25, 15-6 in a Heart of America Conference match at the Hennessey Recreation Center.

Clarke arrived in town with the third-best record in the conference, but the Mustangs regrouped in the fifth set after seeing their 2-0 lead evaporate in the third and fourth sets.

Mount Mercy raised its records to 19-13 overall and 7-11 in the league. Clarke fell to 24-8 overall and 12-6 in the conference.

Mount Mercy will visit Evangel (17-16) in the first round of the Heart of America Conference tournament Wednesday night.

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