Northwest volleyball's Elkin

Freshman Bethany Elkins swings for an attack against Missouri Western blockers Sam Duncan (left) and Rachel Losch (right) in a home match Sept. 18. Elkins had 10 kills and three blocks on the night.

After a strong start to the MIAA portion of the season, Northwest volleyball shows no signs of letting off the gas pedal.

The Bearcats opened up MIAA conference play Sept. 14 against Lindenwood University and proved why their name should be near the top of the conference standings.

Northwest swept the Lions in three straight sets, beating them 25-18, 25-18 and 25-21. This was head coach Amy Woerth’s tenth win over Lindenwood in her coaching career with the Bearcats.

“Lindenwood is a scary team because they can run fast and there isn’t a ton of answers to react to speed,” Woerth said. “As long as you can keep a team like that out of system, you can control the controllables throughout the match, and we did.”

The win over the Lions gave Northwest a 1-0 conference record heading into Saturday’s game.

The Bearcats’ second match of the young conference season came against rival Central Missouri. Coming into the match, the Jennies were heavily favored and ranked No. 9 nationally in the American Volleyball Coaches Association coaches poll.

Once again, the Bearcats prevailed, winning the match in three sets with final scores of 25-11, 25-18 and 25-21.

“It’s cool to see us compete at a high level with these great teams,” Woerth said. “But what I found throughout our program’s history is that it is better to keep our players in the moment rather than painting too big of a picture because we are still developing in the moment of being champions.”

Much of the early season success for Northwest is in large part due to the senior leadership within the team and the expectations they have set for each practice.

Senior Maddy Bruder is in her farewell season with the Bearcats and wants it to be a great one. It would be misleading to say that her presence on the volleyball court isn’t an advantage for the Bearcats as they head into the heart of their season.

“The expectation of me playing solid volleyball is something that I have adopted into my gameplan,” Bruder said. “When coach Woerth explains to the team that we should be playing a Maddy form of volleyball and that I’m personally rubbing off on the team, it makes me feel a sense of pride.”

Bruder is one of only four seniors on the Northwest roster that otherwise is dominated by underclassmen. This can be a tough feat to overcome when the goal is success for the Bearcats.

Northwest faced their third conference test of the season on Sept. 18 against Missouri Western. In recent years, the Griffons have proved to be a test for Northwest winning nine out of the last 10 matches. History didn’t repeat itself as the Bearcats swept Western in the straight sets with scores 25-22, 25-15 and 25-20.

Northwest will be back in action on Sept. 21 as the travel to Joplin to take on Missouri Southern.

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