Clarissa Kraayenbrink- Staff Writer
After going 21-6 in the regular season, the Dordt Defender volleyball team earned themselves a spot in the NAIA National Tournament Championship match in Sioux City over the weekend. Having defeated fellow-GPAC school Midland in the semifinal match, Dordt moved on to yet another GPAC matchup against the Hastings Broncos. This was Dordt’s first championship match berth in 10 national tournament appearances.
Coach Chad Hanson, who has now completed his sixth year as women’s volleyball head coach, will always remember this experience and the support he and his team received from Defender Nation. Hanson said trust was a key component for the team this year. He also credits his coaching staff as huge contributors to this year’s success. With their help, the athletes’ hard work and the training, the tournament appearance has made this year unforgettable.
“Brent [Zomer], Kristin [Brouwer] and Rylee [Morris] were each strongly involved with creating a training culture of support, encouragement and instruction with practice goals and expectations continually rising as we achieved them,” Hanson said. “The leadership of each of our players was also vital to creating this type of strength in mind and body.”
Once at the National Tournament, the team topped some of the best teams in the NAIA, advancing into the championship match against Hastings. Dordt took the first two sets with scores of 25-23 and 25-15, respectively. Hastings took the last three sets and won the title of national champion. Ema Altena led the team with 19 kills on the night, closely followed by Brooke Granstra with 14. Granstra also led the team in blocks with seven. Summer Jansen had the most digs of either team with 33. Jamie Gesink, Altena and Granstra were named to the NAIA All-Tournament team.
“The feeling and mentality for us going into the championship match was a united spirit of confidence and focus,” Hanson said. “We approached the scouting report the same way as previous matches and the players asked great questions about strategies to help prepare themselves for that match.”
Although the outcome was not in the Defender’s favor, Hanson is hopeful that time will heal the feelings of heartache and disappointment that his team felt Saturday night. He believes the negative feelings will turn into joy, satisfaction and praises to the Lord for the unforgettable season they had in 2016.
“The most impressive element that stands out to me is how we played together and showed respect to our opponent, the official, and the fans,” Hanson said. “Most of our opponents became our fans following the match, which speaks volumes to the respect that they had for us during the competition, not just respect for us as athletes, but more of a respect for what the team represents as Christian women serving one another.”
The Dordt volleyball team will graduate three seniors this year with Elizabeth Kiel, Jill Schouten and Granstra.
Photo by Joy Faber