The Red Raider volleyball team lost a season-ending match in National Tournament pool play last Thursday. The five set match (25-21,25-23, 25-13, 25-23, 15-9) against Lewis-Clark State was for the chance to play in the single-elimination round. Their final record was 36-2.
Senior Hillary Hanno led the team in kills with 16. Junior Rylee Hulstein added eight more. Senior Kaitlin Beaver lofted up 40 assists. Sophomore Kate Buyert led NW with five blocks. Senior Bobbie jean Rich, sophomore Jennie Jansen and Beaver added four blocks each. Hulstein (14), sophomore Jaci Moret (11), Hanno (11) and Rich (10) were the leaders in digs.
NW came out slow in the first two sets but refused to stay down and picked up victories behind their powerful serving. The third game saw Lewis-Clark State fend off elimination and hold NW to a negative hitting percentage. After the Raiders were leading 22-17, LCS made a stunning 9-1 run to take the fourth game. Falling behind early again hurt the Raiders as they fell 15-9 to bow out of the tournament.
This was the final game for four seniors on the team: Karis Vink, Rich, Beaver and Hanno. Beaver earned first team All-American honors and Hanno made the second team All-American squad. In their time with the program, the Raiders went 133-26 for a .836 winning percentage.
This season, among numerous individual and team accomplishments, the Raiders won the GPAC regular season and conference championship, maintained a top five rank all season and qualified for nationals.
The goals the team set for themselves at the beginning of the season were challenges for on the court and off the court performance. On the court the goals of going undefeated in conference play and winning the conference championship were met. Off the court, goals such as coming together as a family and being viewed as strong Christian women were also important to the players.
“Overall, the season was a success; it’s more than just wins and losses” Vink said. Beaver added, “We were really open and honest with each other and became great sisters in Christ who can share anything with each other.” Rich wrapped it all up by sharing, “God’s love was evident, growing and doing some awesome things throughout the year in the team as a whole and in each individual. If that’s not a success then I don’t know what is.”
All of the members of the team understand that the relationships and memories they created defined success, and the victories on the court were a bonus that came from their efforts.
For the upcoming seasons, Hanno envisions the team “continuing to strive to work together as a family and bring glory to God by playing. I can see them continuing to work towards a positive team image.”
The Raiders will return six players: Hulstein, Buyert, Jansen, Moret, sophomore Heather Goehring, and sophomore Danie Floerchinger from their regular rotation for the 2011 season.