A pair of former Western Christian High School athletes are continuing to make their mark in NCAA Division I women’s athletics.
Kaira Moss is in her second season in the starting rotation for the volleyball team at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
Moss saw her career delayed after suffering an injury in her freshman season in 2016. She played in four matches that season. After a redshirt year and another year of medical hardship, Moss returned in 2018. She earned a spot on the Western Athletic Conference all-freshman team. Moss started all 28 matches and led the Lopes with 243 kills and 95 blocks. She recorded 10 kills or more in 12 matches that season.
Thus far this season Grand Canyon is 22-5 overall and 12-3 in the WAC. Moss has been a major contributor, playing in 25 matches and starting 23 of them. She has 218 kills for an average of 2.34 per set and has a .347 kill efficiency. Moss leads the team in blocks with 102, an average of 1.10 per set.
Ashtyn Veerbeek, a 2018 Western Christian graduate, is a sophomore on the University of Nebraska women’s basketball team.
Veerbeek, a 6-foot-2 forward, averaged 6.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game as a freshman. She came off the bench in all 30 contests, but her rebounding and block averages were second on the team. Veerbeek scored in double figures seven times on the year. The high point was scoring 19 points and grabbing eight rebounds in 22 minutes of play in a win at the University of Illinois on Jan. 17.
The Huskers are just getting started this season. In the first official game of the year, a 68-46 win over Alabama A&M University on Nov. 6, Veerbeek drew her first collegiate start and finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Nebraska played the University of Missouri on the road on Sunday and came away with a 90-85 overtime win. Veerbeek was again in the starting lineup. She battled foul trouble but still had nine points, five rebounds and a block. Veerbeek made her third straight start Thursday in a 78-55 win over Morgan State University. Veerbeek had 13 points, six rebounds and one assist.
Rowing the boat
There will be at least one N’West Iowa family that won’t be rooting for the home team when the University of Minnesota plays at the University of Iowa for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy today (Saturday, Nov. 16). Ko Kieft, a 2016 Sioux Center High School graduate, is the starting tight end for the Gophers, who have been one of the surprise stories of the college football season. The Gophers are 9-0 and ranked seventh nationally in the NCAA FBS division. Minnesota shocked then fourth-ranked Penn State University in a battle of unbeatens last week to rocket up the poll.
Kieft isn’t featured much at all in the passing game, but can be a devastating run blocker. That point was emphasized a few times in the Fox broadcast of the game last week, including on one goal line play where Kieft knocked his man to his back in the end zone allowing the Minnesota runner to score.
The redshirt junior is 6-foot-4, 255 pounds. The son of Jerry and Linda Kieft of Sioux Center redshirted in his first year at Minnesota in 2016. The next year he played in 12 games, mainly on special teams. He finished that year with two catches for 17 yards. Last season he played in all 13 games and started three. He made one catch for 19 yards and caught a two-point conversion pass. Kieft was an academic All-Big Ten Conference selection that year.
Kieft has been a regular part of the Gopher lineup this year, but he has yet to catch a pass.