Northwest volleyball

Senior Sophia Schleppenbach led the Bearcats in aces in the team's victory over Southeast Oklahoma Oct. 26, finishing the game with a total of 6.

Northwest volleyball sits just one game back in the MIAA standings as they look to complete one last road stretch before competing in the conference tournament.

The Bearcats (21-6,13-3 MIAA) are on their way to one of the best seasons in program history. With the 3-0 sweep of Missouri Southern State (3-23, 3-13 MIAA) Oct. 26, Northwest reached the 20-win milestone for the 15th time in the 43-year history of volleyball at Northwest.

To add to their historic season, the Bearcats also set a new school record for most MIAA wins in a season, winning their 12th match in conference play over the Lions.

“Being a competitor, you can't help but to be excited for this team and what they have accomplished thus far,” coach Amy Woerth said. “We are through the wolves and now we can see the shiny stuff on the other side thanks to the hard work we’ve put in.”

Northwest capped off another perfect weekend by defeating Southwest Baptist (4-25 ,0-16 MIAA) for the second time in the season. Seniors Maddy Bruder, Sofia Schleppenbach, Olivia Nowakowski and Megan Stilmock were honored on senior night with a 3-0 set sweep over the Bearcats in purple and held Southwest Baptist to a mere .080 overall hitting percentage throughout the match.

The final score from Bearcat Arena Oct. 27 came without mercy (25-13, 25-16, 25-16) in favor of Northwest. With the win, the Bearcats move to 19-0 in three-set matches and have won seven of their last eight matches on the season.

The key to success for Northwest has come from within this season as they have worked hard to dial in their offensive firepower to beat very talented MIAA opponents. It is no secret that the Bearcats have been successful in this as they are leading the conference in offensive efficiency.

“It really comes down to how much you are controlling your possessions,” Woerth said. “Working well together, relationships clicking and understanding how much work we have put into this season has been the key to success for us.”

Nowakowski has been working hard to leave her legacy on the volleyball program at Northwest and has put a lot of thought into what she wants it to be. This is her fourth year as a labero at Northwest, and she hopes to do her part to help accomplish team goals.

“The thing I hope to have taught when leaving this place is how to lead by action,” Nowakowski said. “Just being that person on the floor that will do anything and go after any ball to try and win one single point is what I want my legacy to be.”

Looking ahead, the last two regular season conference tests that the Bearcats face are on the road against Fort Hays State (8-20 overall, 2-14 MIAA) and No.3 Nebraska-Kearney (28-2 overall, 14-2 MIAA) Nov. 2-3.

Sept. 29, Northwest gained the early two set lead on the Lopers before dropping the last three to lose the match. While that was a key loss at the time, there is much more at stake for the Bearcats this late in the season, having the chance to claim the conference championship.

“Right now, we are going to trust our process,” Woerth said. “Yes, we have been a pretty good road team and we have the skills to get it done, but i want to take it game by game and let our girls go to work.”

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