Serve of VB by Payton Kirchhoefer

Sophomore outside hitter Payton Kirchhoefer lines up her serve during the match against Missouri Southern in the MIAA Tournament Nov. 10. Northwest volleyball went on to get the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Central Region, losing to the No. 5 seed St. Cloud State 3-1 in the first round Nov. 18.  

Northwest volleyball was attempting to make more history this season, searching for the No. 12 Bearcats’ first-ever NCAA Tournament victory Nov. 18 in Wayne, Nebraska, but was denied by No. 8 St. Cloud State 3-1 in the first round of Central Region play.

The Bearcats (24-7) came out hot in the first set with an 8-4 lead, but the Huskies (27-5) quickly countered with a 10-0 run to take control of the first set 14-8. St. Cloud State kept the momentum the entire set, ultimately winning the first 25-16. The ’Cats scored just eight more points after their earlier run.

Northwest kept the second set close for a while, trading points with the Huskies. Midway through the set, the Bearcats held a narrow 12-11 lead. St. Cloud State answered with a 5-1 scoring run to take a 17-12 advantage.

The Bearcats found themselves down 24-16 in the second set and needing to mount a comeback. The ’Cats went on a 6-0 scoring run to cut the Huskies’ lead to 2 points, but St. Cloud scored, cutting the comeback attempt short, 25-22.

Down 2-0 in the match Northwest’s season was on the line. The Bearcats came out hot, taking an 8-3 lead, which improved to an 11-6 lead midway through the third set.

The lead grew to 21-16, in favor of the ‘Cats. The Huskies did not go away, as they quietly cut the lead to just 2 points. It was not enough for St. Cloud State, though, and the Bearcats’ season stayed alive with a 25-23 win in the third set.

Even with Northwest’s win in the third, St. Cloud State still led 2-1 in the match, needing just one more set to win the match. The fourth set started just like the second set, as the two squads went back and forth, until eventually the Huskies took the lead and didn’t look back.

St. Cloud State went up 19-13, and the Bearcats were able to climb back into the set to make the score 23-19. With one last push, the ‘Cats were down 24-21 and on their last breath. The Huskies went for a kill, and multiple Northwest players dove to try to keep the point, set, match and season alive. However, the ball hit the court, and St. Cloud State won the set 25-21 and the match 3-1.

The Bearcats conclude the 2022 campaign with 24 wins — third-most in a single season in program history — after the most wins in a season for Northwest with 26 in 2021. Next for the outright MIAA regular season champions is the offseason and preparation for the 2023 season.

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