Nov. 14, 2013
Keller and Hanafin ready for Senior DayBy David Boyce | Northwest vs. Southwest Baptist | Friday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m. | Bearcat Arena | Live Stats
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Seniors Bridget Hanafin and Mackie Keller will work to control their emotions when they step on the court Friday evening at Bearcat Arena for the final time in a match.
Keller is in her third season as a middle hitter for Northwest, and Hanafin is in her second season as a setter.
They have worked hard, been a source of insight for the younger players and have always exuded a positive attitude.
“They definitely have the team’s respect,” Northwest coach Amy Woerth said. “They have been a consistent source of leadership.”
Like seniors before them, Hanafin and Keller will be honored in their last home match. Family and friends will look on as kind words about their playing days at Northwest are read over the P.A. system.
Keller and Hanafin will try hard not get caught up in the pregame ceremony. Their focus will be on Southwest Baptist and what they can do to help the team win.
Northwest, 11-17 overall and 5-10 in the MIAA, is fighting for one of the last two sports remaining for the MIAA tournament. Southwest is 17-12 overall and 6-8 and is playing for one of the remaining spots.
Also in the mix are Pittsburg State and Lindenwood.
“If we win on Friday, we could be in a four-way tie between us, Southwest Baptist, Lindenwood and Pittsburg State,” Keller said. “We beat Pitt State and Lindenwood. It puts us in good standing as long as we take care of business on Friday.
“I am very excited. It is fun to play with just everything on the line and getting into the MIAA Tournament.”
Even though the Bearcats lost their last two matches against two of the top three teams in Central Missouri and Nebraska Kearney, they played well. Before those matches last week, Northwest beat Lindenwood and Missouri Southern at home.
“We are coming together,” Hanafin said. “We came off two tough losses against Central and Kearney, especially against Central, we played well and showed what we are made of and we can stick with the top teams.
The leadership from Keller and Hanafin kept the team battling even when they went through some tough times.
“We started off pretty strong and then we had a little bit of a roller coaster in the middle,” Keller said. “Basically, dealing with adversity and knowing that regardless how the season has gone, we still have something to play for. Realistically, that is all that matters.”
Regardless of what happens Friday night, Keller and Hanafin enjoyed the ride. And these Bearcats rode the bus a lot this season. Most of their matches in the first two months of the season were on the road.
“Being on the road was long, but it gave us an opportunity to know each other and have that family atmosphere on the road,” Hanafin said.
Success is not always determined by wins and losses. Dealing with the ups and downs of a season and staying positive through it all is a lesson worth learning.
“We definitely had some challenges this year from the standpoint of injuries and lineups,” Woerth said. “We pretty much changed everything from what we look like now compared to the way we looked the first game.
“Kudos for people hanging in there from the standpoint of maybe going in different direction with lineups and understanding this is a team sport. We never gave up and I think that is important when you walk away at the end of the year.”
Keller and Hanafin are not quite ready to walk away, yet.
“I think it is more excitement,” Keller said of Friday’s match. “We do have something to lose, but we might as well leave it all out there.”
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