Caleb Pollema – Staff Writer
COVID-19 has thrown a slew of schedule changes and postponements at the Dordt women’s volleyball team, not to mention taken out several of their players for short periods of time. Like most college seasons during the pandemic, theirs has been one of highs and lows.
However, the match last Saturday offered a moment to reflect and celebrate the three Dordt seniors who have contributed to much of the program’s lofty success over their four years at Dordt University.
Dordt held senior day on their last home,weekend match of the season against the Doane Tigers. The team has one remaining home match against Northwestern that serves as their last home game of the season, but it falls on a weekday.
Outside hitters Karsyn Winterfeld and Lydia Smits and libero Hannah Connelly were all honored at the match to celebrate their accomplishments as Defenders.
“This was our first full team gathering of the season,” Connelly said. “It was so special to have each teammate and their family in one place.”
The matchup against Doane came on the heels of 3-1 victory over the Hastings Broncos on Friday night, which set Dordt up for a short turn around and a much-needed momentum boost headed into Saturday.
A slow start for the Defender women characterized the beginning of the match as they found themselves in an early 5-1 hole to the Tigers. Yet, the Defenders battled back to lead the set 18-17. The set remained tight all the way down to a winning kill by Jessi De Jager that gave the Defenders the victory by a final score of 25-23.
Heading into set two, the Defenders took command early with a 10-4 lead. Doane never came within four from then on and Dordt took set two, 25-11.
The Defenders continued their dominance in the third set with a 14-9 swing out of the gate. Dordt struggled to put the match away, though, but on its fourth match point, a Karsyn Winterfeld kill gave the Defenders a 25-19 victory.
De Jager led the Defenders with 10 kills and a .667 kill efficiency. Both seniors, Connelly and Winterfeld, ranked first in digs for the Defenders with 12 each.
The victory pushed the Defenders to 7-5 in GPAC play and 8-5 overall. The Defenders now sit at 5th in the GPAC standings, behind Morningside.
Coach Hanson was happy with his team’s performance as the Defenders look to build momentum headed into the final four matches of the season.
“Getting a second win on this weekend where we recognized our three seniors and one manager was a really special experience,” Hanson said. “After a slow start in the first set we finished with more exciting play and focus. We will need this focus in the coming week with three road matches.”
The Defenders will finish their season with three of their final four games on the road. They travel to Briar Cliff in Sioux City for a Tuesday evening matchup followed by weekend matches at Mount Marty University and College of Saint Mary.
Dordt then returns home for its final regular season match on Tuesday, October 27th against rival, Northwestern.
This past weekend’s two victories are critical as the team continues to improve and prepare for the end of the regular season.
“We finish a week from Tuesday with regular season play,” Connelly said. “The GPAC tournament is postponed to the spring and hopefully we will play some nonconference games in preparation for that.”
The results of the tournament and the final national poll will determine if the Defenders get an invitation to the national tournament in late April.
The Defenders are looking forward to what remains of the regular season as they prepare for postseason play next semester.