After dropping its first MIAA conference match with only 11 games to play, Northwest volleyball looks to bounce back in style when hosting Central Oklahoma Oct. 5.
The Bearcats had high hopes going into the Sept. 29 matchup with fourth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney and with good reason. Before squaring off, Northwest had racked up a record of 14-3 on the season and were 6-0 in conference play. To add to their resume, the Bearcats were sitting on the sixth-longest winning streak in Bearcat volleyball history.
When Northwest roared out of the tunnel Sept. 29 in Bearcat Arena, it seemed like much of the same. The Bearcats jumped out to an early 2-0 set lead with no sign of slowing down. Then the momentum started to switch in favor of the Lopers.
Nebraska-Kearney ended up winning the next two sets and forcing a winner-take-all set five. The Lopers stamina proved to be the deciding factor in the match, winning the final set and giving the Bearcats their first MIAA loss on the season (25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 23-25, 11-15).
“The difference between previous wins and the Kearney match was Kearney was good at stopping our first options,” coach Amy Woerth said. “Where we go from here will be based on if we can learn how to grow out of that as an offense if our first options are being stopped.”
It's a common belief in sports that teams learn more from losing than they do from winning and Woerth has made it clear that a loss to a high caliber team like Nebraska-Kearney could be an advantage in the long run.
“There’s just so many more positives than negatives to take out of that match,” Woerth said. “There were so many stretches of things that the girls did well, it’s just having those stretches come more and more frequently.”
Looking ahead, the Bearcats can't turn on the cruise control anytime soon due to another very highly respected Central Oklahoma team coming into Bearcat Arena Oct. 5. The Bronchos have posted a record of 17-4 while being 5-2 in conference play.
In the latest AVCA coaches poll, Central Oklahoma is currently ranked No. 19 and sitting just behind the Bearcats at No. 3 in the MIAA standings.
Senior Megan Stilmock is ready to get back on the floor and help get Northwest back to its winning ways. She acts as a defensive specialist while on the floor and due to being a fifth-year senior, Woerth relies on her leadership and character to help contribute to leading the team in the right direction.
“The tools we obtained and the lessons that were learned coming off our defeat can be a huge advantage for us not only against UCO, but in the remaining schedule ahead,” Stilmock said. “We have the ability to play and battle with teams that represent some of the best in the country, and feeling that we are one of them is a good feeling.”