Third-ranked and top seed Northwestern College got everything and more from Doane College on Saturday as the two teams did battle in the GPAC Tournament Championship Game held in Orange City, Iowa. The 18th-ranked Tigers showed why they will be a team to contend with at the NAIA National Tournament despite falling to the Red Raiders in straight sets. Game scores in favor of Northwestern were 25-23, 26-24 and 25-22.
The two teams went back and forth in game one and rarely were the two teams separated by more than two points. In game two, Doane controlled early on before Northwestern came back to even up the match at 18. The Tigers, however, answered by taking six of the next eight points as they were serving game point at 24-20. The Red Raiders were able to get a side out and the Tigers would not pick up another point and Northwestern rallied with six straight points to close out game two.
The Tigers started game three in a 4-0 deficit as the Red Raiders continued to take the momentum. Doane was resilient and came all the way back to even up the game and even take the lead. Northwestern came back once again and eventually finished off the victory.
Doane was paced by Jessy Livers' 13 kills and 16 digs. Terra Andreasen finished with 12 kills for the Tigers and a match-high .400 attack percentage. Heather Davison dished out 19 set assists for Doane while Cassie Reicks added 17 set assists.
Northwestern received 18 kills from All-American Randa Hulstein. She added five total blocks to lead the Red Raiders. Hillary Hanno added 11 kills.
The Tigers will await the NAIA Opening Round pairings and are expected to receive a host bid. Pairings will be released sometime on Sunday. Northwestern will receive a bye in the Opening Round and advance automatically to the NAIA National Tournament final site in Sioux City were they will join fellow GPAC member Morningside. The Mustangs receives the host team bid and automatic bye to the final site.