Close Page

Volleyball serves up another conference title

By Carlos Guzman
Dec 14, 2016

Though the team did not advance beyond pool play, it did amass several more team and individual honors to its collection. This includes a fifth consecutive conference title, a sixth national tournament appearance and six players being awarded All-Conference honors.

Before the awards and titles came, the Pioneers began the long grind to glory in spring 2016. Volleyball season began in the weight room and with the recruitment of strong players to add to the team’s talent and depth.

In order to achieve the best record in the HAAC and end the season ranked No. 13 in the nation with a berth in the national tournament, several factors were at play that began to define who the team was and what the goals were.

The first factor contributing to the team’s success, according to head coach Kristin Steele, was that the team returned a lot of players.

“Six of our seven starters this year had already seen play action,” Steele said.

Steele also said that the tragic death of 14-month-old Harper Rodden drove the team to work hard and live with no regrets. Harper was the infant daughter of strength and conditioning coach Whitney Rodden. Harper was killed in an accident on July 27.

“We never took any days for granted,” Steele said.

Junior setter Rachel Kater said that they were able to have the best record in the conference because they took everything one game at a time.

“We scouted our opponents [and] were prepared,” Kater said.

Kater and Steele both said that a high point of the season came early in the year when the Pioneers beat Dordt College (Iowa) and Bellevue University (Nebraska), two nationally ranked teams. Another milestone came at the end of the regular season when the Pioneer squad won its fifth consecutive conference title.

“A high of the season would be beating Central Methodist twice for both the conference championship and a bid to nationals,” Kater said.

Steele also said that the team endured minor setbacks throughout the course of the season due to injuries. The most difficult loss came in the postseason conference title match.

“A low point for us was when we lost to Grand View in the conference tournament,” Steele said.

Going into nationals however, was a whole different beast the Pioneers had to face. Having the best record in the HAAC, MNU bypassed the opening rounds and headed straight to Sioux City, Iowa, for pool play. The Pioneers had been to nationals many times before and came in with the goal of advancing past pool play.

“We were ranked second in our pool and the top two would move onto tournament play,” Kater said. “Naturally, our goal was to advance out of pool play. Unfortunately we weren’t able to do that.”

Steele said that team’s performance at nationals was hindered by a significant injury to Kater. This injury was a major reason that the lower-ranked Biola University (California) was able to defeat the team. At the end of three games of pool play, the Pioneers finished 1-2.

Regardless of the unforeseen circumstances, MNU volleyball produced another  award-winning season. However, Kater said there is much left for the Pioneers to accomplish in order to achieve their goals, beginning in the offseason.

“MNU volleyball takes spring season very seriously,” Kater said. “It’s all about getting better for next year. Improving strengths and working on weaknesses.”

“We need to work on upper body strength across the board and our quickness,” Steele said. “We just need to be bigger, faster and stronger.”

Steele said the 2016 MNU volleyball season did much to continue to build on the foundation of past seasons. Though the future is always uncertain, Steele said the volleyball program is confident and motivated to continue to produce great things on the court.

“We want to be the premier program in the conference,” Steele said. “The girls are really hungry for a championship after seeing what women’s basketball was able to accomplish.”Players rally around each other to talk strategy before a 3-0 set victory against Evangel on Nov. 5. Team unity is just one of components that led to the success of the program. Photo by Jim Smith.Players rally around each other to talk strategy before a 3-0 set victory against Evangel on Nov. 5. Team unity is just one of components that led to the success of the program. Photo by Jim Smith.

Carlos Guzman

- More by this author

Carlos Guzman ('19) is from Overland Park, Kansas and is the Sports editor for The Trailblazer. He is a biology major with an emphasis in pre-medicine and is also pursuing a minor degree in Youth and Family Ministry.  Carlos is also on the cross country and track and field team.  

comments powered by Disqus
These bees are collecting nectar from sunflowers on campus. MNU’s bees fly out about 15 feet high and spread out as far as five miles in order to retrieve nectar for the two hives located on campus. Photo by Dana Palmer.


As of fall 2017, faculty from the science department at MNU have initiated a science club for the purpose of bringing science out of the classroom and into the MNU community.

Protesting to make America great

As opinions fly and the President calls protesters in the NFL “sons of bitches” who should be fired, I can’t help but wonder if people are more upset about a lack of respect for the flag than they are about a lack of respect towards black Americans. Now seems to be a time when people have to pick what they’re most upset about.

How to catch zzz’s without catching C’s

As members of the human race, we tend to agree that there are some “firsts” that will be remembered for the rest of our life. Whether it be our first kiss, our first night away from home or our first day at a “real” job.

Theatre Club Vice President, Brandon Baker is pictured leading the Theatre Club in a game of mafia. Students in the club have learned things such as acting, FSX makeup and improv. Photo by Heather Tinker.

Big things in Bell for fine arts Department

MNU’s department of Fine and Performing Arts has added a worship arts major, pep band and a theater club. The university heritage choir has also been accepted to perform for the Kansas Music Educators Association.

President David Spittal addresses staff and faculty during an all-campus meeting on April 26 in the Bell Cultural Events Center. During the meeting, Spittal gave updates on the New Horizons initiative and announced the closing of MNU’s Liberty, Missouri campus. Photo by Chace Owen.

MNU to close Liberty campus, address unexpected expenses

In an all-campus meeting with faculty and staff on April 26, university president Dr. David Spittal announced that MNU's Liberty, Missouri, campus would be closing in December 2018.

On April 7, Cook Center was transformed for President’s Honors. This event is largely powered by current MNU students, as they served as wait staff, gave personal testimonies to guests and performed in the band and choir. Photo courtesy of MNU public relations.

Student involvement powers President’s Honors

Students and supporters come together as MNU holds largest fundraiser in university history

Millennials' technological fluency has spawned accusations of social disconnection, but that's nothing new for innovation. Photo by Blake Bradford.

Thanks for the trophies, folks

Millennials are being unfairly targeted by older generations.

The Action Pact improv team poses after its final show of the Fall 2017 semester. Action Pact is a collection of MNU students who perform for the campus, temporarily shedding more weighty (and less-fun) requirements for practice and performances. Photo by Alexandria Bonar.

Smell the roses and drop some chainsaws

Your college experience will be over before you know it; it's okay if it gets messy.

oie 20033R7jxkNKK

Policy over privacy: MNU’s norms in the dorms

MidAmerica promotes itself as a pristine Christian university with no room for inappropriate behavior. There's no partying, no drugs and, of course, no sex. At least, that is the apparent goal.

Videos / See More