Updates from Johnson County Community College: Fall sports preview

Fall semester is in full swing at Johnson County Community College, and promises to be one to remember. If you’re a college athletics fan, our fall programs – women’s soccer, men’s soccer and volleyball – will not disappoint. Here’s a look at what’s in store for our Cavaliers this season.

JCCC women’s soccer team features good blend of veterans and rookies

Our women’s soccer team faces the difficult task of replacing two of last year’s top five scorers, along with some top defenders. With a veteran presence and some new talent mixed in, early indications show they are up to the challenge.

The rest of the country agrees as the Lady Cavaliers open the 2018 season ranked 19th by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Poll. This is the 12th time in the 20-year history of the program that JCCC opens the season ranked nationally.

Our team will put that ranking to the test early as they face ranked opponents in four of their first six matches. The Lady Cavaliers open the campaign in Melbourne, Fla. on Aug. 24 against No. 7 Daytona State College followed by No. 4 Eastern Florida State College. JCCC returns home to host No. 11 Lewis & Clark Community College on Sept. 2, and 10 days later they travel to El Dorado, Kan., to battle No. 12 Butler Community College. JCCC will host Butler on Oct. 7.

“Scheduling top teams in the country has always been a priority,” JCCC head coach Jim Schwab said. “It allows us to see where we stand among the competition. Playing Butler twice this year is always challenging, but we will be ready.”

JCCC men’s soccer coach revamps roster; looks to return to winning ways

Our men’s soccer program finds itself in unfamiliar territory as it enters the 2018 campaign. Last season, the Cavaliers finished 8-10-1, finishing below .500 for just the third time in the last 18 years under head coach Fatai Ayoade.

Ayoade and his staff have revamped the roster for the current season, retaining eight players from last year’s squad and bringing in 16 newcomers, including two transfers.

Not only does the roster have new faces, it is also filled with athletes from across the world. Thirteen players join us from the KC metro, while 11 others come to us from Brazil, England, Germany, Jamaica, Libya and West Africa. Ayoade and his staff worked diligently to recruit student athletes who possess the drive and desire to be successful on and off the field.

“Our players must be determined and dedicated to the program and goals we set from the first day we step on campus,” Ayoade said. “If we remain focused, we’ll be tough to beat. It’s obvious it takes more than talent to win. Team chemistry is vital. If this group can put egos aside and come together and work as a team, we will have a tremendous season.

The team faces another demanding schedule in 2018. Three teams appear in the NJCAA Division I preseason poll, and a fourth, Richland College, is ranked second in Division III.

JCCC volleyball ups the ante in 2018

Under the direction of head coach Jennifer Ei, our volleyball program has been a staple in the NJCAA for the past decade. She had guided the program to national tournament appearances in seven of the previous 10 seasons with runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2010, and a third-place finish in 2013.

After last season’s 15-17 finish, Ei has challenged her 2018 team to get the program back among the upper echelon in the NJCAA. Charged with that task are four returning sophomores and 10 freshmen. Leading the group is returning all-conference middle hitter Anna Hester of Lenexa, Kan. She was one of the top blockers in the Jayhawk Conference last season, ranking third overall with 118. Starting setter Jade Askren (Wichita, Kan.), starting libero Torey Burkhardt (Silver Lake, Kan.) and starting outsider hitter Ciarra Valadez (Wichita, Kan.) are also returning.

“Collectively, these sophomores work hard on and off the court,” said Ei. “They have established good fundamentals this past spring and summer, and will contribute to our team’s success this season. As the freshman improve their game and become more comfortable playing at this level, they will also be key contributors and exciting to watch.”

Our regular season schedule begins in late August and runs through the end of October, followed by the postseason in early November. The schedule also features 12 opponents that are ranked in the NJCAA Division II poll, and one in Division I.

Mark your calendars

Check out our fall athletic schedules so you can be part of the action: