Close-knit women’s club volleyball takes national title

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first_imgAlthough the team is losing plenty of seniors, Wisconsin’s women’s club volleyball expect to reload and take another charge at the title next year.[/media-credit]The experience of winning a national championship is one that will be remembered for years to come.The University of Wisconsin women’s club volleyball team did just that this past April, sweeping Cal Poly in a best-of three games series to conclude a three-day tournament in Kansas City, Mo.The team won nine out of the 10 matches it played, with the lone loss coming in the first day of play against California-Berkeley.The national title capped off a thrilling two-game stretch for Wisconsin, who experienced its most heated match in the semifinals against its bitter rival, Marquette. MU had beaten up UW in the recent past, but the Badgers finally delivered payback.“We played them once last year and once this year at the same place, their place, same court, championship game of the tournament, lost both times in three games,” said Rachel Prince, a sophomore right side hitter. “So it felt really great to get to nationals and beat them.”Nothing like a monkey-off-your-back win against a rival to prepare a team for a national title game.“I think everybody was pretty jacked up,” senior Katelyn Vara said. “We wanted [the championship] really bad. We had just come out of the game against Marquette, who is one of our biggest rivals. We have some pretty bad blood with Marquette, so beating them in the semifinal was huge for us. That really lit a fire, and I pretty much don’t think that anybody was going to beat us in the final because we were really jacked up. Going in we were fired up and excited. We wanted to win really bad.”From watching Cal Poly play earlier in the tournament, Wisconsin knew Cal Poly was not playing like the team that won nationals last year.In the final game of the best-of-three series, a 25-11 pummeling of Cal Poly, the Badgers knew the game was theirs.“I think we knew we had it in the bag then,” Vara said. “But we didn’t stop playing until the very last point. We were like, ‘Oh shit, we are going to win nationals.’”The team only played in four tournaments this semester, and the Badgers started off well by winning the Big Ten tournament and following that up with a convincing performance at Minnesota.But the road to a national title wouldn’t be so easy for Wisconsin. The Badgers had a disappointing outing at Las Vegas, tying for ninth place, but were able to rebound before the national tournament just three weeks later.The Badgers excel at blocking, and their title can be attributed to the team’s polishing the skill during the final weeks of practice.“The last day of nationals we really performed our best,” said, Kirstin Cho, a senior outside hitter. “We definitely ended on a high note with nationals.”The team chemistry was a main reason the team achieved as much as it did.The differences in the personalities between the girls on the team provided a useful connection. Some girls are quieter; others are more outgoing. Together, they blended into a team that worked hard to achieve a championship.And things aren’t expected to change much next year. Even with many seniors graduating, the team is hoping to have players from the B team, or incoming freshmen, step up and make strides to fill gaps.“The girls that are coming back are really good, and now that they have a national title under their belt, I think that experience will help,” Vara said. “The way that we practice at the end of the season will be a really great learning tool for them to bring to the team next year. They have a good shot at being good again next season.”The younger players on the team also wanted to win for the seniors. They had to go through a few years of rebuilding, and the team decided this had to be the year to win the national title.Vara believes the seniors could not leave in a better way.“Ending this season like this for a bunch of the seniors was obviously the best way to end it,” she said. “Taking away everything that we have learned throughout all of the years we have played, and then the things, the friendships and the things that we learned from the girls that we played with are all going to be things we can take with us for the rest of our lives.”last_img

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Premiership: Leicester Compounds Everton’s WoesÂ

first_imgLeicester City defeated Everton 2-0 yesterday to give new boss Claude Puel victory in his first match in charge.Jamie Vardy finished a sweeping counter-attack and Demarai Gray benefited from a Jonjoe Kenny slice to put the Foxes 11th in the Premier League.Everton, under caretaker David Unsworth after Ronald Koeman’s sack last Monday, remains in the bottom three.The Toffees were largely restricted to long-range efforts, but probably should have had a penalty when Christian Fuchs brought down Aaron Lennon soon after Leicester’s second goal.Though Everton dominated the second half, a lack of incision was indicative of a team that has scored only seven league goals this season and is winless in seven games in all competitions.Leicester, meanwhile, has staged a turnaround since a run of six league games without a win cost former manager Craig Shakespeare his job.The 2015-16 Premier League champions have now won three in a row in the top flight and EFL Cup – two under caretaker boss Michael Appleton and this maiden success for Puel.Though Puel guided Southampton to the EFL Cup final last season, his appointment was greeted by derision in some quarters, especially after the Saints managed just 41 league goals last season.In claiming victory on his bow at the King Power Stadium, Puel saw his Leicester side employ the method that brought them a shock title success little more than a year ago.Everton had more of the ball, spent more time in the Leicester half and had more players in advanced positions – and yet the home side had the greater threat going forward, especially through their trademark counter-attacks.Gray, in his first league start for a month, was excellent, and it was his electrifying pace that created Leicester’s first goal.An Everton free-kick was headed clear, with Gray collecting the ball deep in his own half. He evaded three challenges and fed Riyad Mahrez, whose cross was finished at the back post by Vardy.The second goal was tinged with fortune as Gray’s cross-come-shot from the left was sliced past Everton keeper Jordan Pickford by the unlucky Kenny.The home side were under pressure for most of the rest of the contest, but a back four led by Wes Morgan rarely looked like being breached.Unsworth has stated his desire to be given the reins at Goodison Park full-time and he stamped his mark on the Toffees by relegating £45m summer signing Gylfi Sigurdsson to the bench and giving first league starts of the season to wingers Lennon and Kevin Mirallas.The early problems, though, were at the back, as the central defensive partnership of Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams, with a combined age of 68, were exposed by Leicester’s pace.By the time they showed anything positive, Everton were two down.Whoever is given the Everton manager’s job will inherit a side that has only scored more goals than Bournemouth and Crystal Palace, conceded more than all but Palace and not won any of their past 13 away league games.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img

Minister Dalung: A Huge Disservice to the Sports Industry

first_imgBy Duro IkhazuagbeSome intrigues that are known to take place in the sports industry leave market observers wondering if some of the operators have a full grasp of what damage they inflict on the business of sport in Nigeria.It becomes a cause for serious concern when the person on whose shoulder rests the responsibility to promote the health of the industry is seen to be contributing to the rot as the damager-in-chief whose every pronouncement and action has continually eroded confidence in the national sports business. Since his appointment in 2015 as the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung has failed to articulate a policy direction but has been busy raising one controversy after the other in key sports federations and leaving in its wake, a damage that can take years to repair. As the coordinating minister in a country most of the football clubs and indeed sports associations are funded by state governments, it is expected that the minister would have been exploring how to harness efforts towards optimizing the contributions of the various levels of government.Whilst he inherited the crisis in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the red beret wearing minister from Plateau State has made no pretences about who he wants to run national football even as such a choice flies in the face of all known processes of election into the office and more critically, an aberration to global football regulations.Dalung, a self-acclaimed expert in conflict resolution, has so far succeeded largely in creating conflicts in the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Nigeria Gymnastic Federation, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), the Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF) and of course, the conflagration that enveloped the National Youth Council (NYC) is well documented.It is thus on record that it is during the tenure of the conflict resolution expert that sports federations and other departments under his ministry have parallel leaderships.Dalung hasn’t restricted his untoward conducts to the ministry he supervises as it has been extended to government business where he has publicly dismissed a directive of the President issued through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, his colleague in the Federal Executive Council. Rather than approaching his colleague to discuss the said directive of President Muhammadu Buhari on the lingering NFF crisis, Minister Dalung has chosen different media platforms to disparage the document from the Attorney General’s Office and by extension, making ridicule of the government by portraying it as lacking cohesion.It is not surprising that football has been the most hit by the minister’s pretentious interventions in sports federations’ management. As earlier noted, his contributions in the Pinnick-Giwa contest of the leadership of the NFF has at best been to add to the crisis. In his pretense of seeking a resolution of the crisis, a committee led by a former NFF President, Ibrahim Galadima was instituted to mediate but finding its recommendation not in tandem with his set objective, Dalung kept the report on the shelves to pursue his agenda of foisting Christopher Giwa on the NFF Board.Not satisfied with the brilliant job done by the Ibrahim Galadima , the report which is already gathering dusts like several others before it, Dalung went ahead to set up another committee led by yet another former NFF Chairman, Col. Abdulmumini Aminu  (rtd) to embark on the same mediation voyage whose report may also go the way of the Galadima report. Yet on another front, Dalung will wave a court injunction empowering Giwa and his group to resort to anarchy by forcefully taking over the offices of the NFF. Dalung’s antics are akin to a man who goes into the bush to strike a cutlass and jumps onto the road to shout who is striking the cutlass.The minister has seized every opportunity no matter how remote to pillory football administration and yet he also seizes the slightest chance to amass benefits and luxury accruing from that sector. He was at the Falconets camp recently and flew back to the country to attend the recently concluded African Senior Athletics Championship in Asaba and has returned to France for the FIFA U-20 Women Championship where he has promised a $10,000 reward. How much is a minister’s earning for this obscene display of spending? Again, It is difficult to ignore how Dalung treated the viral world to the spectacle of having the Falconets kneel before his imperial majesty to receive cash gifts, something an accounts officer in the ministry could have been detailed to do discreetly without making it a social media event.It raises the question about a minister who insists that a non-existent Supreme Court judgment is superior to global football regulation but he won’t stay away from tournaments organised by FIFA and governed by the same regulations he is busy spurning to advance his case for the disruptive Giwa group. He waved the said Supreme Court judgment recently on Channels Television and claiming it was in the interest of the country not to enforce it before the World Cup in Russia because he obviously knew he won’t be in Russia to benefit from the trip as FIFA would have stopped Nigeria based on his curious court order.Dalung put on show his belligerence at the 2015 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the NFF at the Best Western Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos when as the Special Guest of Honour, he ended his speech by asking for a full audit of the football house account after dropping unsubstantiated allegations of financial impropriety. Despite making such weighty allegations, he continued working with the board, accompanying them especially to international trips for obvious personal pecuniary gains.For a government officer who lays much stock in accountability and probity, we have been expecting the minister to explain why he offered to return 50 percent of the $150,000 to the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), money which was wrongfully paid into the account of the AFN during another crisis instigated in the federation. What happened to the full money and what will become of the other $75,000?Still on probity, the Minister spearheaded a fund raising for the Super Eagles towards the World Cup in Russia and more than one month after Nigeria exited the tournament, should he not be providing detail of how much was raised and how it was spent? Equity, they say, must be approached with clean handsWhen the League Management Company (LMC) came on stream some years back it offered a flicker of hope that the sagging league will get a revival given the attendant internal conflicts that grounded its successive administrations.A lot of grounds have since been covered amidst some extraneous setbacks. It is these externally induced hitches that have continually inflicted the most blows on the efforts to give the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) a deserving lease of life.While the LMC is still grappling with means to rebuild and retain sponsors’ confidence, there came this ill-informed statement credited to the Sports Minister alleging that outcome of league matches are pre-determined. That is the most uncharitable speak that can come from a man bestowed with the responsibility to oversee the administration of sports in a country and who is expected to promote the well being of individual sports spheres to generate Jobs, engage youths and win laurels for the country.Such unfounded claim coming from an authority like the minister is a disservice to not just the NPFL but to the football industry in the country. We have in Dalung, a minister who is yet to become conversant with the domestic league which he has hardly made out time to watch. It is left to be seen what he has done from the federal government side to support and boost the league. But this same minister will hop into a plane to go watch the CAF Nations Championship (CHAN) in which Nigeria is represented by players recruited from the league he has snubbed since coming into office.Over the seasons, the LMC and the NFF have imposed stringent sanctions on those found guilty of rules violations. There are different layers of checks and monitoring put in place by the League in liaison with the NFF and these include Referees Assessors, Special Delegates, the Referees Appointment Committee and the Integrity Unit of the Federation that have ensured that in consonance with FIFA Integrity regulations, conflict of interests are eliminated in decision making processes. It would be in the overall best health of football for the minister to work with the football administrators to flush out, if any, persons who may be bringing the game to disrepute.The minister’s claims that corruption is the reason NPFL clubs lose early in continental competitions lacks merit as there are over 50 leagues that register for each of the two CAF club championships. The fact on ground is that with the exception of just one club from DR Congo and South Africa, North African clubs have bestridden CAF Club competitions dating back to the 1970’s. The stories of Rangers, IICC Shooting Stars, Abiola Babes, Iwuanyanwu Nationale and Leventis United to name a few are well documented.There were few moments of glory with Enyimba’s triumph in 2003 and 2004 the high point. Yet anyone knowledgeable in the workings of International club competitions can discern that it is a function of good club financing, planning and management. So far only a few countries have such clubs and have been dominating the continent. But because this fundamental is not in place just as in other clubs in the rest of West Africa, East and Central, occasional flashes are recorded as we saw with Enyimba.It is indeed a huge tragedy that Dalung would in time to come leave the sports industry where he has the singular record of being the longest serving minister with nothing to show.  Leadership is beyond grandstanding, irreverent talks and abuse of authority which have all combined to be the style of Minister Dalung.Dalung is a minister of the Federal Republic and should rise above beer parlour talks that diminishes public confidence in his esteemed officeShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img

USC awarded NASA grant for first time

first_imgThe School of Pharmacy has received a grant from NASA to explore the potential effects of medicine on astronauts in space. The $600,000 grant was announced last month and is the first such donation from NASA in USC history.Space drugs · New research funded by NASA will examine the potential health benefits of drug producing fungi on astronauts in space. – Photo courtesy of NASA The funds were donated by the national Space Biology Program and will be parceled out over the next three years.Graduate students Jillian Romsdahl and Junko Yaegashi will use the funds with Dr. Clay Wang, associate professor of chemistry in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences who also holds a joint appointment in the School of Pharmacy. They will work with a team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena to research microgravity climates and their impact on drug discovery.“We’ve been interested in drug discovery at USC and, more specifically, the study will look at fungi and how fungi makes drugs both in a lab environment and in outer space,” Wang said. “Examples of drugs that are made by fungi are penicillin and statin.”This will be the first time fungi will be studied in an outer space research experiment.The study will involve the team at USC working in collaboration with astronauts on the International Space Station and a research team within the Planetary Protection Group at JPL. Organisms that have been studied at the lab at USC will be sent to the International Space Station by way of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where students will hand deliver them to the launch pad.According to Wang, USC has been using a genomic approach, which means that the team sequences the entire genomes of the drug-producing fungi.“Most of the time [fungi] do not make the drug but some of the compounds are anti-fungal, so what happens is the organisms do not make anti-fungi until they encounter another fungi and they basically need to kill their enemy, which results in the drug being created,” Wang said.Romsdahl expressed her excitement about getting the research underway.“It gives us the opportunity to begin to answer some very exciting research questions regarding fungal behavior in outer space,” she said in an email to the Daily Trojan. “This project gives us the chance to understand fungal secondary metabolism in a microgravity environment and will likely build a platform for drug development in outer space.”Traditionally, the School of Pharmacy has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, and on occasion the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense for drug discovery related projects.“The research will help uncover new basic knowledge that other NASA researchers and engineers can use to solve problems confronting human exploration of space or that could lead to new biological tools or applications on Earth,” NASA said in a press release.Romsdahl said that Wang was crucial to the funding of the project.“Professor Clay Wang is an excellent professor and Ph.D. adviser. Without him, this project would not exist,” she said in an email. “I am looking forward to the intriguing research discoveries that lie ahead.”Wang said that there are also future projects in the pipeline and he hopes to secure more grants in the coming years.last_img

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