On Wednesday, the Northwestern Red Raiders lost a tough match against rival Dordt College on the road in five sets. With the loss, the Red Raiders are now 24-7 (12-4 in the GPAC).
“We really hate to lose, especially to Dordt,” head coach Kyle Van Den Bosch said. “At the end of the day it came down to the last four points. You just have to shake their hands and go out and get the next one.”
Setting the pace for the night, Dordt won 28-26 in a thrilling first set. In the first set, both teams were trading points. Neither team held a lead of more than three points throughout the entire game. In the second set, an early 7-3 lead set the tone for NW and they never looked back and won 25-18.
The third set, unlike the ones previously, saw the Defenders take a five point advantage over the Red Raiders on two separate occasions. After NW tied the game at 19, Dordt went on a 6-0 run to win the set 25-19. In the fourth set, NW and Dordt went back and forth until the Red Raiders went on a run and pulled ahead 16-11. Dordt tried but failed to bring the score within three points and NW went on to win the set 25-18.
“Anytime we play Dordt we can expect an all-out war,” junior setter Jessa Doom said. “Both teams were ready to play and every point had to be earned.”
Now in the fifth and final set, the Red Raiders and Defenders traded points until the score was 5-5. Then Dordt got the upper hand, taking the lead 10-5. NW rallied back and brought the score to a tie 11-11 and then taking the lead 12-11 before a Dordt timeout. Following the timeout, NW increased their lead to 14-12 match point. After a service error and a set violation by NW, the score was now tied at 14. Two more errors by the Red Raiders put the Defenders up 16-14, giving them the win and outright GPAC regular season title.
All five attackers for NW recorded double-digit kills including a career night from senior Caitlyn Van Es with 13. Freshman Lauryn Hilger also recorded 13 kills and led the back row with 17 digs. The Red Raiders were led by senior Karlie Schut who had 14 kills and 14 digs, her 12th double-double of the season.
“It’s important that we put that game behind us,” Doom said. “We know we are capable of competing with the best GPAC and nationally-ranked teams. Every game here on out will be a test to us.”
NW will play their first GPAC playoff game on Saturday when they take on fourth-seeded Concordia on the road.