Kalli Hegerle wasn't a part of the University of Jamestown women's volleyball team the last time the Jimmies faced Northwestern College, but she quickly became familiar with the Red Raiders.
"Kalli does so many different things," UJ head coach Jon Hegerle said. "She scored in a lot of different ways."
Unfortunately, Hegerle's powerful performance was not enough to keep UJ's win streak going.
UJ dropped their first game of the year Thursday evening to Northwestern College at the Red Raiders' home venue. While the team suffered a loss, UJ will remain on top of the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) with an overall record of 15-1 and 12-1 in the GPAC. UJ will face Briar Cliff Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Northwestern, the GPAC's No. 2 team, improved to 15-2 and 13-2 in the conference standings.
"They put a lot of pressure on us," Hegerle said. "They served really tough, so we struggled passing and because of that we were pretty one dimensional offensively and with a team as veteran and talented as them - that's not a very good recipe for success."
Hegerle, a junior for the Jimmies, put up a team-high of 15 balls smashed. The right side has sent 148 past balls sailing past competitors' defenses and has utilized her six-foot frame to make more than 30 rejections at the net.
"She's just a really talented player," Hegerle said of his starting right side. "She really works on her game and wants to be a master of her craft. She's just getting better and better so that's fun to see."
Hegerle was recruited by the North Dakota State University volleyball program, where she suited up for the Bison her freshman and sophomore seasons. Hegerle made the decision to transfer the Jimmies' program after the 2019 season concluded.
The Raiders may not have known what to expect from Hegerle right off the bat, but Jimmie veterans like Anna Holen and Corina Huff had an idea of who was on Northwestern's roster.
UJ faced and topped Northwestern in the 2019 national tournament quarterfinals 25-23, 25-20, 27-29, 26-24. The game snapped UJ's eight consecutive losses to the Red Raiders, four of which were sweeps. The Red Raiders graduated a limited amount of talent from the team who finished sixth at the NAIA national tournament last December.
"They've been through the wringer together and they understand who they are," Hegerle said of the veteran team. "They have a pretty salty team."
Everyone in the NAIA volleyball circle understands who Northwestern's star player is.
Anna Wedel, the 2019 NAIA Player of the Year, American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American and GPAC Player of the Year paced the Red Raiders with 17 balls drilled off 41 total attack attempts. The senior outside posted a .220 hitting percentage while Makenzie Fink was hitting over .500 at the net.
The duo took care of business early, keeping the Jimmies on their toes from the very start.
Set No. 1 began with a 4-0 run by the Red Raiders, which would turn to a 15-11 advantage. The Jimmies responded with four straight to tie the set at 15, but a 10-5 run by Northwestern secured the first for the home team.
Ellie Holen made the most of her time behind the service line in set two. Trailing 13-10 in set two, Holen, a freshman out of LaMoure, North Dakota, helped her team rally scoring six in a row to pull ahead, but Northwestern responded with a 12-1 run to make it 2-0 Red Raiders.
"We had a lot of hitting errors, and when that happens you start to get tight and you start to be a lot more conservative hitting and that just plays into their game," Hegerle said. "When you feel that the other team is going on a run and getting momentum and you need to slow them down usually that's a pretty good time to take a timeout."
The Jimmies did a pretty good job of slowing the Raiders down in the third.
Down 20-18, UJ won four points in a row to take a 22-20 lead. Northwestern rebounded with back-to-back points to tie it up, but UJ went on a 3-1 run to force a fourth set.
"We thought we got a little bit of momentum and so we felt like we were more in our comfort zone which is where we want to be," Hegerle said. "But Northwestern did a really good job at dictating the pace and dictating the tempo - we were fairly uncomfortable most the time and that's a difficult position to be in."
With renewed energy, Jamestown got as close as 12-9 in the final set but the team in red went on a 12-2 run to make the lead 13. NWC finished the match off with a kill blown past the Jimmies' defense
"I thought they really came after us and we just need to do a little better job handling that," Hegerle said. "Briar Cliff is a talented team as well. Friday is the last game of their season so we know they are going to be gunning for us.
"We'll just have to do the best job we can to respond the way we need to."
Northwestern College 3, University of Jamestown 1
UJ 20 17 25 13
NW 25 25 23 25
UJ -- Kills: Hegerle 15, Anna Holen 10, Nicole Schmitz 8, Corina Huff 6, Taylor Sabinash 5, Jayla Ritter 4. Assists: Jackie Meiklejohn 24, Megan Gaffaney 19. Digs: Sydney Ellingson 17, Holen 16, Hannah Schiele 10, Meiklejohn 10, Gaffaney 3, Ellie Holen 2, Sabinash 2, Ritter 1. Aces: Meiklejohn 1. Blocks: Ritter 4, Sabinash 2, Huff 2, Hegerle 2, Holen 1.
NW -- Kills: Anna Wedel 17, Makenzie Fink 13, A.J. Kacmarynski 8, Emily Van Ginkel 7, Macy Van't Hul 4, Lacey Reitz 3. Assists: Reitz 48. Digs: Emily Strasser 17, Wedel 14, Olivia Granstra 9, Reitz 8, Cami Cleveringa 3, Van Ginkel 2, Van't Hul 1, Jadeyn Schutt 1. Aces: Schutt 4, Wedel 1, Taylor Meyer 1, Strasser 1. Blocks: Van't Hul 6, Van Ginkel 4, Kacmarynski 4, Wedel 3, Fink 1.
Records: Northwestern 15-2, 13-2 GPAC; UJ 15-1, 12-1.