SIOUX CENTER, Iowa | When Ema Altena slammed the last of her 23 kills, wrapping up Dordt’s 3-1 Great Plains Athletic Conference volleyball win over Northwestern, De Witt Gymnasium exploded in a deafening roar.
Spurred on by a packed and enthusiastic home crowd, the seventh-ranked Defenders ended No. 3 Northwestern’s 18-match win streak with a 25-22,30-28, 19-25, 25-22 victory here Wednesday night.
Dordt, now 20-4 overall, moved into a first-place tie in the GPAC with Northwesten and defending NAIA national champion Hastings with one loss each. Altena played a major role with her powerful right arm, but the Defenders were on the top of their game in all facets.
“I was saying stuff to my team during the rallies and in between plays and my voice could not project any louder because it was so deafening,” Dordt Coach Chad Hanson said. “That’s a neat credit to this environment, De Witt Gym is always rocking. Our students and fans showed up in great ways and I don’t want to detract at all from what our players did out on the court.
“We knew we had to execute in really meaningful ways, taking care of the ball from the service line and we really did that well.”
In a match pitting two such evenly matched teams, Hanson was asked what the difference was.
“Right now it looks like the home court,” he said. “They had a look on their faces that reminded me of what we looked like in their gym. I was glad we didn’t have that look in our gym and this environment. I was glad that we had that get after it tenacious look that we can and most often do have.”
Dordt finished with 24 kills and Northwestern 23. Altena led the Defenders with 23 while Leah Kamp added 13, Ally Krommendyk nine and Julia Lindbergh. Northwestern’s A.J. Horstman finished with 16 kills, Anna Kiel 12 and Lauryn Hilger nine.
The match included an epic second set that Dordt ended up pulling out, 30-28. Northwestern’s Karsyn Winterfeld, a freshman, was serving when the Red Raiders ran off six straight points to erase a 24-19 deficit.
“We didn’t come out and play super hard tonight, I thought we started to compete about the middle of the second set,” Northwestern Coach Kyle Van Den Bosch said. “I thought that carried over into the third but we couldn’t quite get over the hump in the fourth.
“The difference tonight was Ema, she makes them feel a lot better about themselves. I thought we got a lot better as the match went on so I was happy to see our young kids get better as it went on.”
Dordt’s Jamie Gesink, as usual, was all over the court with 49 assists and 14 digs. Summer Jansen led the Defenders with 17 digs. Krommendyk had six block assists and Haley Moss four while Erica Bousema nailed two ace serves.
Northwestern setter Lacey Wacker racked up 36 assists. Horstman contributed 13 digs, Kiel 12 and Hilger 10. Winterfield, Kiel and Wacker had two ace serves apiece.
The Red Raiders’ only other loss of the season came on Aug. 26 to Corban, now ranked No. 9 nationally.
“Northwestern’s an amazing team so we knew coming in we had to play our best ball and we had to clean up some of the errors we had in previous matches,” said Altena, a 6-foot junior from Sioux Center. “We talked about coming out strong in each match and really playing our ball. We’re evenly matched and that’s the great thing about the GPAC, it’s great competition every night. We definitely needed this win where we line up in the conference. It was a good win and hopefully will propel us further in the conference.”
The Dordt victory avenged a 3-1 loss to Northwestern on Sept. 12 in Orange City, Iowa.