Harold Newman Arena was rocking on Tuesday night and setters Jackie Meiklejohn and Megan Gaffney were right in the middle of it.
The University of Jamestown women's volleyball team downed Dordt University 25-22, 25-19, 19-25, 25-18 in the team's home opener. UJ previously bested the Defenders 3-1 on Sept. 25. Both the Defenders' losses this season came against the Jimmies.
The win pushed UJ to 3-0 in the GPAC standings while Dordt fell to 5-2. The Jimmies will travel to Valley City State University tomorrow. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Meiklejohn, a 5-foot-2 setter for the Jimmies, brought some experience to the floor - having been a part of the Jimmie squad since the 2018 season. The junior out of Dickey, North Dakota, started behind UJ grad Miranda Lowman last season and made an appearance in last season's National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national tournament semifinal match.
"Jackie is setting the ball better than she has," UJ head coach Jon Hegerle said. "That's not unexpected."
"The hard thing is that this year we do have some dynamic hitter that can do a lot of things so right now it's figuring out when and who to set because there are so many options ... we just have to relax and realize that that is going to take some time."
The setter experimented with those dynamic hitters. Anna Holen, a junior outside for the Jimmies, tied with junior right-side Kalli Hegerle for Tuesday's kill leader title. Both Hegerle and Holen racked up 13 kills while freshman Nicole Schmitz smashed seven on the outside. Meiklejohn ended with 24 assists and 15 digs.
A couple of aces here, a defensive bobble there kept sealed the first set for the Jimmies. UJ started out the first set with a 9-2 run to put the home team up 9-3 before Dordt could get out of the second rotation. It looked like the Jimmies had the set early as big kills from senior middle Corina Huff, Hegerle and Holen put the Jimmies up 21-12.
The set was far from over.
The Defenders served up an 8-0 run to tie the game at 22. The UJ front three had some trouble on the attack so Gaffaney took matters into her very capable hands.
Sydney Ellingson popped up a reception to Gaffaney that the setter then dumped over the net with a flick of the wrist. The one-point advantage turned into two off an attack error from Jessi De Jager. Huff sealed the deal with a powerful hit to a gap in the Defenders' defense.
"Megan's in the mix and she's keeping caught up to speed," Hegerle said. "It's such a difficult position to step into - it takes time. She's doing a really good job. She's learning on the fly and I think it helps that we have some veteran hitters. What really helps a lot is our really tough back row and when we pass well it makes her job a lot easier."
Gaffaney, a Jamestown native helped keep the Jimmies' front three in the game all match long, ending with 12 assists and 12 digs.
It was a battle early in the second but the Jimmies pulled away to make it a four-point game leading Dordt 11-7. The Jimmies did not give up the lead the rest of the set to make it 2-0 Jimmies.
Karsyn Winterfeld lived up to the title of a Defender in the third set.
The senior outside for Dordt helped her team keep at least a five-point lead the entire third set. Winterfeld drilled 14 balls into the ground and pancaked a few up to setter Megan Raszler.
Dordt was on the verge of their first set victory but Meiklejohn came up big for the Jimmies from the backline. Down 24-16 Meiklejohn put the ball in play and connected with Jimmie attackers for three more points before Dordt got the victory off a Jimmie attack error.
"I think they started to turn up the heat a little bit, they started to put pressure on us," Gaffaney said of the Jimmies' dropped set. "We just had to find a way to combat that and bring it back to them."
They brought it back. While Dordt tried to chip away at the Jimmies' early 14-5 lead, it was the setters who helped make solid plays to clinch the 25-18 win.
"The great thing about Jackie and Megan is that our team loves them," Hegerle said. "They're such great teammates that our team wants to do everything they can to help them be successful and become the setters that they can be."
University of Jamestown 3, Dordt University 1
D 22 19 25 18
UJ 25 25 19 25
D -- Kills: Winterfeld 14, Brenna Krommendyk 10, De Jager 9. Assists: Raszler 19, McKenna Vroom 14. Digs: Hannah Connelly 23, Winterfeld 12, Corrina Timmermans 10. Aces: Raszler 2.
UJ -- Kills: Hegerle 13, Holen 13, Schmitz 7, Huff 6, Taylor Sabinash 6, Jayla Ritter 6, Gaffaney 3. Assists: Meiklejohn 24, Gaffaney 12. Digs: Ellingson 17, Meiklejohn 15, Gaffaney 12, Holen 12, Hannah Schiele 8, Schmitz 2. Aces: Ellie Holen 2, Schiele 1, Meiklejohn 1..
Records: UJ 3-0, 3-0 GPAC; Dordt 5-2