Volleyball wins first conference game since 2016

Lily Denehy, Managing Editor

On Friday, Sept. 17, the Macalester women’s volleyball team beat Carleton College 3-2 to win their first Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) game since the 2016 season. It was their first win against Carleton since Oct. 2013.

With that win and their Saturday win versus Bethany Lutheran College, the Scots were on a four-game winning streak, however a loss to Gustavus Adolphus College on Tuesday broke it. Overall their record now stands at 9-4. The last time the Scots won more than nine total games in a season was 2015.

The MIAC is one of the top Division III women’s volleyball conferences, and Macalester has been ranked as one of the bottom teams for at least five years. Following their come-from-behind victory over Carleton, that may be changing.

Carleton won the first two sets, though Macalester fought tooth and nail to knock out the Knights. In both sets, the Scots came up just three points shy of the 25 needed to win; the Knights took each set 25-22.

“They worked so hard,” Head Women’s Volleyball Coach Mary Johnston said. “I mean this team earned it; they earned it. To go down two sets, in any game… that takes so much grit and they have it.”

The tide turned in the third set. Macalester racked up four points in a row, mostly off defensive digs from Adisa Preston ’25 to lead 13-12. Preston played all five sets, and led the team with 20 digs on defense overall. She played tough offense too, earning 15.5 points for the team.

In the third set, this four point run did not lead to an easy win. The game swung back and forth until the last few points. The Scots scored three to lead 22-21. They did not relinquish the lead, winning the third set 25-23. Their final points in the third set were cheered on by the 300 people in the stands who stood up yelling “two more sets!” in the last minutes.

The Scots have not had attendance that large at a volleyball game in a long time. Athletics Operations Assistant Devyn Smith and Associate Director of Athletics Steve Murray said they had not seen a crowd this large in recent memory. The official attendance, according to Macalester Athletics, was 326.

After their third set win the Scots did not look back. Macalester jumped out of the gate during the fourth set scoring four points straight. They did not relinquish their lead, and they won the set 25-16. Nicole Norton ’25 tallied 11 of her 43 assists during this dominant set, and Eliza King ’23 dominated the attack earning six kills. She ended the game with 18 kills on the day to lead the team. King is currently third in the MIAC for kills this season totaling 161 over their past 13 games; Norton is fifth for assists per set with an average of 8.32.

The crowd and the team energy built even more after the fourth set. With the match tied 2-2, the game came down to the final, 15-point set. The energy in the gym shot through the roof with students on their feet cheering “MVP” and heckling the referees. A couple students twirled their sweatshirts above their heads like soccer scarves.

Despite the Macalester-heavy crowd, Carleton opened the set with two points, and the lead jumped between the Scots and Knights as the set continued. Macalester, however, was on a roll. Halfway through the set, with Carleton leading 9-7, the Scots dug deep to score four in a row. They did not relinquish their lead. Within a few minutes, Macalester wrapped up their win, ending the set 15-11.

As the last two points came closer, the entire crowd stood on their feet cheering for the Scots. When Preston scored the final point, off a kill from a Norton assist, the Macalester fans spilled onto the court while the team ran to pile together in celebration of their first MIAC win in five years.

The team and fans celebrated together in the center court with the age-old Macalester cheer, “Drink blood, smoke crack, worship Satan, go Mac.”

After the full court celebration, volleyball head coach Mary Johnston gathered the team around her, and congratulated them on the win. In a post-game interview she talked about her admiration for all the women on the team.

“They play all out, and they trust each other, they work hard,” Johnston said. “I’m so proud of them. They deserve all of the credit for this.”

Volleyball plays again on Friday, Sept. 24 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, then on Saturday in the Leonard Center against the University of Wisconsin-Stout.