The Red Raiders roll into yet another week full of Ws and GPAC honors as the volleyball team’s season record improves to 20-1 overall and 7-0 in GPAC play. The biggest win so far this season came Saturday, Sept. 30, on the road against no. 1 Hastings. The match would take all five sets and ended with the Raiders leaving Hastings, Neb., the only team to still be undefeated in GPAC play.
The first set went to the Raiders 25-21, a close set score that would continue to be a trend for much of the match. Both teams were on the attack with Northwestern having 14 kills compared to Hastings’ 12. The set was a thrill to watch featuring 15 ties and five lead changes. NW managed to pull ahead after a kill from freshman Josie Blankespoor. The winning set point came from a block by junior Lauryn Hilger.
The second set was just as competitive as the first. However, the Raiders would fall 23-25. The Broncos managed to get an early lead, but NW came together to tie the set at 13. Big hits from Hastings in the latter half of the set helped them secure the win, bringing the game score to 1-1.
Hastings would control the third set winning it with a large lead 25-15. The Broncos had their highest hitting percentage of the night (.276). Hastings was also able to hold the Raiders to their lowest hitting percentage (.086). The Broncos took the lead 2-1.
It was now or never for the Raiders, and they didn’t disappoint. NW would win the fourth set 25-20. The Red Raiders had to rally from a 15-17 deficit after an ace serve from Hastings. In an amazing effort by the whole team and a strong showing from middle hitter, sophomore Anna Kiel, the Raiders would go on to win ten of the next 13 points and force a deciding fifth set.
In a gym full of energy, NW managed to beat the odds and take the fifth set 15-11. The momentum from the fourth set victory carried over into the final set as NW started with an incredible 5-1 lead. The set would become tied at 7-7, but that didn’t last long as NW would go on to have a 7-1 run to end the match.
On Tuesday night at home the Raider volleyball team completed a three-set sweep of the Morningside Mustangs (25-15, 25-15, 25-19). NW had all of the six aces on the night and had nearly twice as many kills compared to the Mustangs (47 to 28).
NW volleyball now has a 17 game win-streak.
“Our success this whole season has come from working as a team,” Hilger said. “We are all doing our jobs and having fun playing together. Each game in the GPAC is just as important as another. Beating Hastings at No. 1 was just the icing on the cake at this point in the season. We are excited for the upcoming games and cannot wait to see where this season goes.”
The NW campus is also excited to see what the rest of the season has in store for the volleyball team. NW will play 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Dordt College. NW returns home, during fall break at 3 p.m. Oct. 14 against Concordia University.