So far this season, the defending MIAC champion Gustavus volleyball team has compiled 14 total wins and has only been defeated three times, while holding a 3-1 record in MIAC conference play.
With a strong overall record of 14-3, the Gusties are currently ranked number 11 in the nation. However the Gusties suffered rare back to back losses to Bethel and eighth ranked Northwestern. Both of these defeats were hard fought battles where the Gusties showed heart by fighting back from a 2-0 set deficit to bring the score to 2-2 and force a fifth set.
“Both matches were competitive and fun overall matches. Even though we lost in five both days, we played well. It was a challenging weekend playing two great teams. It definitely lights a fire in us, and we’re excited to get back into the gym this week during practice to keep improving,” Junior Lauren Hanson said.
The team has definitely learned a lot from the two matches.
“Bethel and Northwestern are both talented teams. They did well at pressuring us from the first point. It took us a little time to get into our groove. We are very confident we have the tools and the personnel to finish those matches on top if we continue to stay focused on our game and play in the moment during those challenging moments. Both were good matches that will better prepare us for the future,” Head Coach Rachelle Sherden said.
The close losses have motivated players on the team to improve in a variety of ways.
“The losses are very motivating for us and are pushing us to get into the gym this week to work on a few technical things we lacked in those matches. Aside from technical play, the losses are motivating us to get grittier and more competitive,” Junior Nora Holtan said. Holtan, who was the MIAC conference player of the year last season, was a part of the teams that brought a MIAC title to Gustavus the past two seasons. Winning another title is definitely on the team’s agenda for the season.
“One goal is to keep our MIAC championship title and be back-to-back-to-back MIAC playoff champs. We are really working hard in order to make it to the NCAA tournament again. We have been there the past two years and we are looking to make it farther than we have yet. Now, these are our goals, and we don’t take them lightly. We realize these are not easy things to do, but every day, we go into the gym with a growth mindset to improve,” Hanson said.
Looking ahead, the team will begin to face primarily MIAC opponents in the remainder of their season with a few exceptions.
“Our conference is so competitive. It makes every game exciting and you never really know what’s going to happen,” Hanson said.
Remaining conference play will include big matches against big opponents. The team’s practice habits and other things will help them prepare for these big upcoming matches.
“We have a very competitive atmosphere in practice every day, which helps us compete well against some of the best teams in the nation that are in our conference and region,” Head Coach Sherden said.
The Gusties were able to bounce back against MIAC foe Macalaster on Wednesday in a big way, sweeping the Scots 25-12. 25-9, and 25-6. First-year Kate Holtan led the Gusties with 9 kills and one error for a season-high .667 attack percentage. Senior Shaefer Rupar and Junior Hannah Albers had five kills apiece, and the elder Holtan tallied 24 assists.
The Gusties take the court next this Saturday at home. The match begins at 3 pm, so be sure to head to Lund and cheer on your favorite Gustie volleyball players as they get back on track against St. Kate’s University.