PREVIEW: Volleyball Prepares For NCAA Quarterfinal Against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps

Posted on November 15th, 2017 by

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – It all comes down to this week. There’s not a whole lot of preparation time left before the Gustavus volleyball team puts its athletic ability to the test in the NCAA quarterfinals. The opponent is Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, winner of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) playoff and champion of the Georgetown Regional. The Gusties and Athenas square off at 2 p.m. (CST) Thursday at Van Noord Arena on the campus of Calvin College.


For comprehensive pre-match information, please view the press guide.


GUSTAVUS SEASON IN REVIEW: The Gustavus volleyball team entered the season as the favorite in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference after winning the league’s playoff tournament the previous two seasons. Gustavus began the season with a 13-1 overall record with its lone loss coming against then No. 12 Millikin before dropping matches to Bethel and then No. 12 Northwestern-St. Paul, both in five sets. The Gusties then won their next eight matches followed by a pair of MIAC losses, which dropped them out of contention for the conference championship.

Head Coach Rachelle Sherden’s squad finished the regular season 23-5 overall and in third place with an 8-3 record in the MIAC. Setter Nora Holtan (Jr., Rochester, Minn.) was named MIAC MVP for the second-straight season, libero Brittany Luethmers (Jr., Prior Lake, Minn.) was named Co-Defensive Player of the Year, and outside hitter Kate Holtan (Fy., Rochester, Minn.) was named Rookie of the Year. Outside hitter Hanna Albers (Jr., St. Louis, Mo.) joined on the All-Conference Team. It was later announced that Nora Holtan was awarded AVCA All-Region for the second-straight season, while her sister Kate was named Central Region Rookie of the Year. Luethmers earned All-Region honorable mention.

The Gusties hosted Augsburg in the MIAC quarterfinals and were upset in four sets, marking the first loss against a conference opponent at home since the end of the 2014 season. Gustavus awaited its fate and was awarded an at-large bid to the St. Paul regional, making its third straight appearance at the NCAA Championships. The Gusties proceeded to defeat Aurora (3-1) in the quarterfinal, Wartburg (3-1) in the semifinal, and then upset host and No. 1 seed Northwestern-St. Paul (3-1) for the region title. Nora Holtan was named the region’s Most Outstanding Player, while Kate Holtan and Albers joined on the All-Tournament Team.

Gustavus enters the national quarterfinals with a strong offensive attack, averaging 13.73 kills per set, which ranks sixth in the nation. The Gusties’ .231 attack percentage is 29th in Division III. Nora Holtan has directed traffic all season for the Black and Gold, averaging 10.15 assists per set with a total of 1147 assists – the 17th most in the nation. Nora also leads the team with 39 service aces (0.35 per set) and a .273 attack rate. Kate Holtan leads the attack with 386 kills (3.42 per set), to go along with a .251 attack percentage. Kate is Gustavus’s program record holder for kills by a first-year. Luethmers leads the back line with 579 digs, averaging 5.12 per set. Sam Haugen (Jr., Becker, Minn.) is the top defender at the net with a team-high 66 total blocks (0.76 per set).

Gustavus is appearing in the NCAA Championships for the eighth time in program history and for the third-straight season. This is the first time since 1984 the Gusties have reached the national quarterfinals, but in that year the national field included only 24 teams and Gustavus was awarded a first-round bye into the “Sweet 16.” The 1984 team defeated St. Catherine in the round of 16 before losing to eventual national champion UC-San Diego in the round of eight. The “Elite 8” is the furthest Gustavus has made it in the NCAA tournament.


One Comment

  1. gretchen Koehler says:

    go gusties make history