SIOUX CITY | Ema Altena, Jamie De Jager, their senior classmates and their Dordt teammates were in the locker room for a long time after their first loss in nearly two months Friday night.
Chad Hanson’s message to his Great Plains Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament champions was simple, yet direct.
“I told them I love them,” said the eight-year veteran coach following a four-game loss to Columbia in the quarterfinal match at the Tyson Events Center.
“I told them to keep their heads up. I told them to feel good about what they accomplished. We re-hashed with them just a few brief highlights of the season.”
Dordt went 16-0 while winning the GPAC title, its second in the last four years.
Dordt kept its winning streak alive by winning the GPAC Tournament title.
The winning streak reached 25 matches after a 3-1 win over Eastern Oregon in the Round of 16.
De Jager was named both the GPAC setter and player of the year. Altena and Drake also won first-team honors while seniors Julia Lindbergh and Leah Kamp were second-teamers.
Hanson was named the GPAC coach of the year.
“I told them they should feel great about what we have done and how we competed,” said Hanson. “Most important, to the glory of God, I believed we stayed together as a team. That’s what we really wanted to do, no matter how this tournament went, no matter how the finish of this season went.”
The senior class, which also included defensive specialist Robyn Underwood, reached the NAIA nationals each of the four years. Combined, the four teams posted a 128-26 record and began their careers with a GPAC title in 2015.
What does the future hold? Hanson tried his best to dodge an answer, but still came up with a theory. Ally Krommendyk, an honorable mention GPAC pick returns along with freshman right side/middle hitter Jessi De Jager, who by the way, is a sister-in-law to the former Jamie Gesink.
“Every day of our lives is in the hands of our Lord,” said Hanson. “We’ll surrender that to Him. We’re really going to savor this (next week). We’ll have our banquet next Saturday. We’ll enjoy this before we ponder the what-ifs and the who-knows.
“We have a great line of recruits coming in. We’re going to celebrate the seniors who had an incredible career here at Dordt. We’ll love our time and our memories.”