With more than 700 attendees at Northwest volleyball’s home opener in the Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse Sept. 17, the Bearcats were swept by then-No. 12 Central Missouri before bouncing back with a win against Missouri Western Sept. 18.
It wasn’t the start the then-No. 7 Bearcats (8-2) were expecting, having the momentum of a 8-1 start to the season prior to the first meeting of the season with the Jennies (9-1).
“UCM brought it,” Northwest coach Amy Woerth said. “We didn’t bring it.”
Northwest was not able to defend against the Jennies’ right-side attack, which out-killed the Bearcats 39-29. Central hit at .252 percent, led by Audrey Fisher and Kersti Nix with 8 kills each, while the Bearcats hit .061.
“They just were converting their digs to kills at a much higher rate than we were,” Woerth
In the first set, the Bearcats tied it at 6 before the Jennies went on a 17-3 run and eventually closed out the set. There was hope for the Bearcats, though, when they went up by 5 in the second set, but Woerth said that feeling didn’t last for long.
Heading into the third set, Central put it away, starting the set on a 13-3 run before eventually winning the third set 25-18.
It marked the Bearcats’ second loss this season, including their first in MIAA play.
The next meeting between the two programs will be Oct. 26 in Warrensburg, Missouri, but Woerth and company aren’t expecting a similar matchup.
“It’s never fun to lose 3-0, so there has already been conversation about the next time we matchup and what we can do next time we play them,” Woerth said.
“It stung,” redshirt freshman middle hitter Abby Brunssen said about losing the home debut. “So, going into the next day, we had a revenge mindset. … We wanted to make up for the night before.”
Despite being swept for the first time this season, the Bearcats had a chance to redeem themselves less than 24 hours later. That opportunity presented itself in the form of a matchup with MIAA rival Missouri Western in St. Joseph.
“The good thing about volleyball is you get another shot the next day,” Woerth said.
Northwest exacted revenge, beating Western 3-1.
Brunssen, who had two kills on 13 attacks against Central, had a career high 11 kills against the Griffons. She accounted for 12 total points throughout the four-set match.
“UCM blocked us really well,” Brunssen said. “So, going to Western, we knew we had to make some adjustments if we were going to get blocked like that, and I think we made that adjustment quicker than we did against Central.”
The Bearcats lost the opening set to the Griffons 25-22, making that four sets lost before winning the next three.
Having put the UCM matchup behind them, the Bearcats were able to find an offensive presence to win three straight sets, outscoring the Griffons by 27 throughout the final three sets en route to the win.
“I thought they did a good job pushing through a little bit of a rut they were going through and being able to be successful through their challenge with it,” Woerth said.
The win against the Griffons gave the Bearcats their first win in the conference and took them to 1-1 in MIAA play.
“UCM did overpower us, so going up against MO West, we knew we wanted to be the overpowering factor, and we did just that,” Brunssen stated.
The Bearcats will look to improve their record in the MIAA during Family Weekend, when they host Missouri Southern Sept. 24 and Pitt State Sept. 25.