ORANGE CITY, Iowa – Northwestern College head volleyball coach Kyle Van Den Bosch released the program’s fall 2022 schedule Thursday morning.
“We played a rugged schedule in 2021 with our first 16 matches on the road last year due to the remodel of the Bultman Center,” said Van Den Bosch. “We were in some tough matches throughout the season which really helped us prepare for the postseason and the national tournament.”
Coming off the program’s third-straight appearance in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Quarter finals last season, the No. 8-ranked Raiders are primed for another season.
“We ended up playing our best volleyball at the national tournament with a very special day defeated two teams in one day to make it out of pool play. I also thought we played some great volleyball against the 2-time defended National Champions in Missouri Baptist but ended up losing 3-1,” noted Van Den Bosch. “The great finish this past season has really motivated our girls to really carry that momentum into the off-season training. The girls have worked really hard to improve their skills so that our team keeps getting better.”
The Raiders are set to return nine starters to the roster this season, highlighted by NAIA and American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Honorable Mention All-American Bekah Horstman, and AVCA Freshman of the Year Alysen Dexter. Second Team All-GPAC Jadeyn Schutt and Honorable Mention performers Emily Strasser and Macay Van’t Hul also return for Northwestern.
Ten ranked opponents appear on the schedule entering the 2022 season, taken from the final NAIA coaches’ poll from the 2021 season. One team is receiving votes in the national poll. Nine of the 16 GPAC matches for the Raiders feature teams ranked in the NAIA postseason coaches’ poll.
“The 2022 schedule is a great schedule where we get the ruggedness of the GPAC plus we added national powerhouses Viterbo, Grand View, and Ottawa to the schedule,” said Van Den Bosch. “We also get a chance to travel to California to take on four good opponents early on in the season. There will be no nights off for the Raiders in 2022!”
After playing the entire non-conference schedule away from home last season as the Bultman Center finished its renovations, the Raiders are set to kick off the 2022 season hosting defending Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) champions and NAIA national tournament qualifier, the Braves of Ottawa University (Kan.).
In the first tournament of the season, the Raiders will head west to compete in the Hope International (Calif.) Tournament out in Fullerton, Calif. The opponents for the tournament – set for Friday, August 26 and Saturday, August 27 – are yet to be determined.
Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) will commence on Wednesday, August 31 when the Raiders travel to Sioux City to take on the Mustangs of Morningside University.
Northwestern will return to Sioux City for the Sioux City tournament on Friday and Saturday, September 2-3.
GPAC play resumes Tuesday, September 6 as the Raiders make the long trek to Jamestown, ND to battle the No. 3-ranked Jimmies of the University of Jamestown. The match begins a three-game streak against ranked GPAC foes.
Scattered in among GPAC play are two nationally ranked and 2021 NAIA national tournament qualifying non-conference opponents. On Tuesday, September 27, the Raiders welcome the No. 7-ranked V-Hawks of Viterbo (Wis.) University to complete the home-and-home series. The following Tuesday (October 4), Northwestern hits the road to take on No. 22-ranked Grand View University in Des Moines.
The Raiders will face Dordt in the typical yearly home-and-home GPAC matches. Northwestern will host the Defenders in the first meeting, set for 3:00 pm on Saturday, September 10. The Raiders will travel over to Sioux Center near the end of the conference slate on Saturday, October 29 for a 5:00 pm first serve .
The regular season concludes on November 1 as the Raiders head to Sioux City one final time to face the Chargers of Briar Cliff.
The quarter finals of the GPAC conference tournament is set for Saturday, November 5. Time and location will be determined at a later date.
Northwestern is led by Van Den Bosch in what will be his 18th season leading the Raider Volleyball program.