Former Chieftain named national scholar-athlete
Laura Samuels helped Manhattan Christian College gain national attention in November when the Crusaders advanced to their first-ever National Christian College Athletic Association volleyball tournament berth.
The Tonganoxie High School graduate also earned recognition off the court. Samuels, a junior at MCC, was named a national scholar athlete at the tournament, which was held in Lincoln, Ill.
To be recognized for the academic honor, a student-athlete must be at least a junior in school, must carry a 3.4 grade-point average and be a member of a national tournament team. Samuels has a 3.98 cumulative GPA at Manhattan Christian College. Samuels was one of five MCC players recognized as a scholar athlete.
The Crusaders entered nationals as the No. 8 seed out of 10 teams. MCC went 1-3 in the tournament and finished the season at 19-11.
"We set a lot of goals for ourselves," Samuels said. "Going to nationals was one of them."
Although the Crusaders didn't win the national title in their first appearance, they did catch the attention of other volleyball teams competing at the tournament.
"Everyone was kind of blown away by us," Samuels said. "Other coaches and fans would come up to us and have nothing but good things to say about us. They were really impressed with us."
One team even told Samuels and her teammates that they "had the most heart and hustle we've seen in our lives."
Manhattan advanced to the national tournament after defeating Central Bible College once and Ozark Christian College twice at the regional tournament in Manhattan. MCC played Ozark Christian College six times this year and won five of those meetings. After winning the regional title, MCC coach Lauren Sanders was named regional coach of the year.
Nationally, MCC ranked 15th in blocking, seventh in both assists and kills and fourth in