No. 9 Northwest volleyball improved to 2-1 at home Oct. 12 after a three-set sweep of MIAA rival Missouri Western in the final regular-season meeting between the two programs.
After two weekend’s worth of road trips, in which the Bearcats (14-2, 7-1 MIAA) deemed themselves “road warriors,” they made their return to Maryville for the first of three matches this week. The triumph over Western gave Northwest its seventh win in a row, and the ’Cats sit at third in the MIAA standings.
They’ll face No. 1 Wasburn, the team atop the country and the MIAA standings, Oct. 15 in the Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse. They knew they couldn’t overlook Western, though.
“I knew it was gonna be a dog fight,” Northwest coach Amy Woerth said. “We had to control our controllables at a high level.”
The Griffons (11-7, 3-6 MIAA) kept the matchup interesting with a lot of long points, but the Bearcats were able to take the first set 25-11. It wasn’t till the second set that the Griffons started providing responses to anything the Bearcats presented, eventually taking a commanding 12-7 lead.
Although the Griffons were hitting at .267% in the second set, the Bearcats rallied to regain the lead at 20-19 before ultimately finishing off the set 25-11. The Bearcats started the third set on a 16-3 run and showed no sign of slowing down before going on to win the set 25-11.
The Bearcats were led by sophomore outside hitter Jaden Ferguson, who hit .387% with 12 kills, junior outside hitter Kelsey Havel with 11 kills while hitting .286%, and redshirt freshman outside hitter Payton Kirchhoefer, who hit .290% to end up with 11 kills.
As a team, Northwest hit .298% with eight total errors in the matchup.
The ’Cats were ready to return to their home court after a four-game road stretch that included trips to Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Woerth has a viking hat as a prop, which she now wears and takes to all the road games. Although it's for jokes, there’s a reason why she brings this hat.
“We’ve worked really hard and really long to be able to get this road-warrior mentality,” Woerth said.
“It felt amazing,” Kirchhoefer said about being back in Maryville. “We were tired of being on the road, but we’re back now.”
The Bearcats will stay at home for their next pair of matches against conference foes, and they will face Washburn for the first time this season Oct. 15 and Emporia State for their Pink Out game Oct. 16.
“We’ve always had a goal to beat Washburn, being No. 1 in Division II right now,” Kirchhoefer said. “So, we're gonna come out swinging and bring everything we do in practice together.”