Northwest volleyball clinched an MIAA postseason berth after a sweep over conference opponent Lindenwood Oct. 19.
The Bearcats (19-6) traveled to St. Charles to take on the conference rival Lions (13-11) knowing that with a victory, they would secure their spot in the upcoming MIAA tournament. While this is just the beginning of the goals Northwest has set for itself coming into the season, it is a good stepping stone in the right direction.
Although this was only the 13th meeting between the two schools, Northwest has proven that they have the upper hand when facing the Lions on the volleyball court. The all-time record between the two schools has been dominated by the Bearcats at 10-3.
The Bearcats had standout performances from sophomores Morgan Lewis, recording a season-high 11 kills with a .588 hitting percentage and Maddy Ahrens completed a double-double with 37 assists and 12 digs.
“We had some early challenges throughout the first couple sets of the match,” coach Amy Woerth said. “A couple early timeouts were called to diagnose the problems and get them fixed and ultimately caused us to win the match.”
Northwest completed the sweep against the Lions with a final score of 25-18, 25-20, 25-19 and moved to 6-0 in MIAA road games.
Northwest made the quick turnaround to face Central Missouri and the hostile Warrensburg crowd Oct. 20. The Bearcats had upset the Jennies early on in the season and knew they were going to come into the game firing on all cylinders.
The Bearcats jumped out to any early lead by winning the first set due to the .359 hitting percentage with 17 kills and a mere 3 errors. After this, it was all Jennies. Central Missouri rallied to win the next three sets and the match (20-25, 25-23, 25,16, 26-24). This loss was the first on the road for Northwest in MIAA play, coming with only four conference games left in the 2018 regular season.
“A big factor in the loss against Central Missouri was the home court advantage effect,” senior Sophia Schleppenbach said. “We struggled with the crowd’s impact on their home floor, and it's something we couldn’t rebound from and take that momentum back.”
Northwest prepares itself to host a duo of home games Oct. 26-27 when Missouri Southern and Southwest Baptist make the trek to Maryville in the final stretch of the MIAA season.
Both opponents sit at the bottom of the conference standings and haven’t proved to be tests for the Bearcats. Northwest had previously swept Missouri Southern earlier in the season while only dropping one set to Southwest Baptist in their 4-1 win.
Woerth views this week as one of the most important of the 2018 season. Strengthening offensive and defensive formations while installing systems to prepare the Bearcats for postseason play will determine the success for Northwest in the weeks to come.
“This week is going to be a great opportunity for us to incorporate that next layer of our offense,” Woerth said. “I want to be able to showcase that this weekend and mesh it together before we start our postseason run.”