The NAIA No.7 Northwestern volleyball team captured a 3-1 victory over Midland in the GPAC Championship on Saturday, Nov. 15. Midland claimed the first set 25-27, and NW won the remaining sets with scores of 25-18, 25-16 and 25-18. NW improved to 31-3 on the year and marks the first time since 2010 that NW has won both regular season and postseason GPAC titles.
The Raiders found themselves down 9-6 in the first set until NW knotted the score at 11. Both teams exchanged blows until senior outside hitter Kaitlin Floerchinger scored off of an error and a kill to put NW up 21-19. Midland fought back and tied the score at 25, and then scored the finals two points to win the set.
In set two, NW held onto a 17-16 edge by closing on an 8-2 run. NW hit a dominating .600 for the set. The Raiders cruised to a 25-16 victory in set three. off of a relentless offensive attack.
The fourth and final set saw NW take a 10-9 lead after a kill by junior right-side hitter Karlie Schut. The Raiders scored eight unanswered points until Midland rallied back to bring the score to 21-18. An ace serve by junior setter Brooke Fessler followed by an attack error from Midland gave the hosts their final victory.
Floerchinger recorded a match-high 19 kills and 13 digs. Schut added 15 kills on .464 hitting. Junior outside hitter Haley Chambers added nine kills. Fessler recorded 41 assists.
Northwestern earned the GPAC’s automatic berth into the NAIA volleyball national championship beginning on Dec. 2 in Sioux City.
“We are working on staying focused throughout the whole practice to maintain our level of play without any dips,” Schut said. “Building endurance, starting out hard right away is important, because every team we face is going to be a big challenge,” Schut said.