Hastings College women's basketball coach Carrie Hofstetter joked earlier this season that whoever set up the team's schedule really had it in for the Broncos.
That'd be her, of course.
Six of Hastings' first nine games this season were against teams ranked in the NAIA Top 15.
The Broncos stumbled, withering through a four-game losing streak and finishing with a 4-5 record in that stretch.
But those setbacks only made the team stronger.
Since Nov. 28, the NAIA No. 12 Hastings College (22-8) has won 18 games and its only losses were to No. 1 Morningside and No. 3 Concordia.
Leading up to their national tournament first-round game against No. 6-seeded Rio Grande (Ohio) Thursday at 5:15 p.m. at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, the No. 3-seeded Broncos are feeling confident they can make a run knowing they've already seen some of the best teams in the nation this year.
"We've definitely played a really tough schedule, and I feel good about our team. We've really improved over the last month or two," Hofstetter said. "Our chemistry is really good and players have figured out that we needed people to step up and fill roles. I feel like we've competed really well against the best teams in the country so far this year. I really think there's no team that we'll see that we can't compete with."