The first two games of the GPAC tournament began this week and the Raider women are in it to win it. Ranked second, their record currently sits at 30-2 which is the highest it has been since 1994.
The tournament games started off with a 3-0 win against Sioux Falls. The Raiders had played the Cougars twice already throughout the season and were victorious in both.
The first match of the game started off with the teams tied at ten. Northwestern pulled through with five kills by both junior Hillary Hanno and senior Randa Hulstein, finishing off the match 25-21.
The second match proved just as difficult with an end score of 25-20.
The third and final match was the most difficult of all with the Cougars pulling ahead for a four point lead at one point. This was followed by a 6-2 run by NW which brought them to a tie and led them to a victory of 26-24.
Hulstein led the team with 17 kills followed by Hanno’s 13. In addition, she is ranked No. 1 in the GPAC with 4.2 kills-per-set.
Hanno believes that one of the things that has brought the team this far is experience. They “know what it takes to play at that elite level” which gives them strength on the court. Additionally, the team finds strength in the fact that they are playing for God’s glory, which has been emphasized this season.
The second game of the tournament was played against fifth seeded Dordt. This was another win for the Raiders. The team played four matches total, winning three out of the four.
The first game started off with a NW lead. At one point Dordt pulled ahead by one but could not maintain the lead and lost 25-22.
The second game proved a struggle for the team when they could not regain a lead which meant a 25-21 loss for NW.
The Raider women stepped up to the challenge and countered with two match wins. The first was the closest one yet with a constant tug of war for the lead. The Raiders acquired the second win of the night with a set score of 29-27.
The women achieved their greatest lead of the night in game three, going up by eight points at one point, where the score was 18-10. Dordt attempted a comeback but they were unsuccessful as NW dominated the fourth set 25-18, moving them on to the championship game in the tournament against Doane Saturday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m.
NW will compete in the NAIA National Tournament, starting Dec. 1.