Freshman of the year: Dwight is first DWU player to receive GPAC award

Dwight led the Tigers in kills (241) and blocks (81). She ranked fourth in the conference in total blocks and was sixth in the GPAC with 3.1 kills per set.

Dakota Wesleyan University's Ady Dwight (2) goes up for a kill this past season. Dwight was named the GPAC freshman of the year on Thursday.

Lindsay Wilber’s premonition came true Thursday.

When Dakota Wesleyan University freshman Ady Dwight joined the volleyball team, Wilber knew instantly the Tigers landed an immediate contributor.

“The instant she stepped in the gym for our first practice, I was like ‘We have the freshman of the year on our team,’ ” Wilber said. “That’s no joke. I had a feeling right away.”

On Thursday, Dwight officially justified Wilber’s prediction and was named the Great Plains Athletic Conference freshman of the year. The Langford High School product is the first player in program history to receive the award.

“It’s probably one of the highest honors I’ve ever received in my life, and to know I am the first one from Dakota Wesleyan to ever receive that award, is pretty impressive,” Dwight said. “It’s just an incredible honor to me.”


The 6-foot middle blocker was also just one of two freshmen chosen to the GPAC first-team. The athletic and bouncy Dwight led the Tigers in kills (241) and blocks (81). She ranked fourth in the conference in total blocks and was sixth in the GPAC with 3.1 kills per set.

Dwight recorded a season-high 21 kills against Northwestern College, while she posted a season-best seven blocks twice against Concordia University and Midland University.

Dwight admits she surprised herself during her freshman campaign, but credits the team chemistry for allowing her to blossom.

“I think I just clicked so well with some of the other girls,” Dwight said. “There’s nobody that really stands out from anyone else. We are all just the same and I think that works well with our team.”

The timing was also perfect for Dwight and other Tigers to shine. DWU lost six key contributors from the 2019 team and that opened up immediate playing time.

“It was really good timing for a lot of our freshmen,” Wilber said. “We had good middles in our program, but this is the first time our offense kind of went around her a little bit more than around our outsides. The opportunity was there right away and we knew that when we were recruiting her and she decided to come here.”

But Dwight noted she still had to earn playing time.

“I think it was the right timing, but there was still some competition involved,” said Dwight, who is a nursing major and maintains a 4.0 grade point average.


Three other Tigers were also named to the all-conference team. Setter Madeline Else was tabbed all-GPAC second team, while defensive specialist Hannah Reiff and outside hitter Mariah Gloe were honorable mention selections.

Else ranked second in the conference with 818 assists on the season and was fourth in the GPAC with 10.6 assists per set. Else recorded a career-high 53 assists three different times throughout the 2020 season.

Reiff checked in at third in the conference in total digs (319). She posted a season-high 33 digs against Mayville State University.

Gloe was second in kills (180) and digs (254). She tallied a season-high 21 kills in the season opener against Mayville State.

The quartet helped DWU finish 12-8 and 8-8 in the GPAC this fall. The Tigers also qualified for the GPAC tournament, which will be played in the spring. DWU hadn’t reached the GPAC tournament in Wilber’s previous six seasons as coach.

“We are trending in the right direction,” Wilber said. “Honestly, I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t see us having this good of a fall.”

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