On Wednesday Sept., 28 the Northwestern volleyball team took on the Dordt Defenders for the second time this season. After a very intense back and forth battle, the Red Raiders came out on top.
Last time the GPAC rivals met, NW travelled to the DeWitt Gymnasium, where they were swept in three sets. This time, the Raiders hosted Dordt at home, and vengeance was served.
The Defenders came into this week’s match ranked ninth in the nation, so NW were the clear underdogs. However, that did not stop the Raiders from sticking with Dordt throughout the game before finally picking up the upset in a tight fifth set.
NW came out fast, easily winning the first set of the night 25-18. Once gaining a 4-0 lead, the Raiders never trailed in the first set. The Raider offense hit .367 in the first set, their best of the night.
The Raiders were not able to carry their great form from the first set into the second, where Dordt took control. The Defenders stepped out to a big 17-8 lead, but the Raiders were able to draw it close again at 20-23, before falling 20-25.
Freshman A.J. Horstman also picked up an injury near the end of the second set and was not able to play for the rest of the night. Horstman recorded four kills in the first two sets.
The third set was a very close battle, with the two teams trading leads during play. It remained close until the very end, when Dordt won the set 25-23.
Now that NW was down two sets to one, it looked as if the fourth set would go the same way as the last two. The visiting team stormed out to a 12-6 lead early on.
The Raiders mounted a desperate comeback to tie at 21, and took their first lead of the set 22-21. NW scored three out of the last four points to win the set, taking the ninth ranked Defenders to a fifth and final set.
The last set was about as closely played as possible, with the two teams trading blows. The set remained a one-point battle for a majority of the time, and NW and Dordt each spent time in the lead.
The set reached game point with Dordt leading 14-13. As the crowd grew loud in the Bultman, the Raiders clinched the must win rally, evening it up at 14. The Raiders picked up the last two points, securing an unbelievable 16-14 win.
It was a strong team performance, with many players contributing during the win. Sophomore Lauryn Hilger led the team with 21 kills. This followed a dominant performance against number one ranked Midland, where she also registered 21 kills.
Hilger contributed the win against Dordt and her recent success on the court to her teammates.
“There is no better feeling than beating Dordt,” Hilger said. “It was a group win last night, everyone played their part and made it happen. I have been fortunate enough to have two games in a row that I have had the opportunity to put away that many kills, but I couldn’t have done it without a good pass or a great set.”
Other Raiders to put in clutch performances against Dordt included senior Jessa Doom who racked up a season high 52 assists, and junior Jessica Jensen who had 17 kills.
Seniors Brooke Van Gorp and Jillian Estes anchored the defense, with 10 and 16 digs respectively.
NW volleyball will next play when they travel to Sioux City to play Morningside on Oct. 5.