Dominic Yoder’s coaching career at NMU got off to a rough start this past weekend as the ‘Cats began their season with an 0-4 record after being swept at the Concordia-St. Paul Tournament, Aug. 24-25.
The ‘Cats, who started last season with an 11-0 record, traveled to St. Paul to take part in the round-robin tournament which featured Concordia-St. Paul, University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD),
Barry University, and Truman University. Concordia-St. Paul, Truman University, and UMD are ranked in the top 10 in the CSTV/AVCA Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll.
Yoder took over as head volleyball coach last spring following the resignation of Qi Wang, who quit amidst a dissapointing end to the season in which the ‘Cats finished fifth in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division.
The first day the Wildcats, who were ranked fifth in the GLIAC preseason coaches poll, lost four-game matches to both sixth-ranked Concordia-St. Paul and seventh-ranked Truman University.
“We knew going into this tournament that we were going to be facing tough competition,” Yoder said. “We showed our young age at times against these teams.”
The ‘Cats struggled to mount much offense in the effort against Concordia-St. Paul, recording only 34 kills as a team for the match. Katt Garvick led the ‘Cats with eight kills in the match.
In the second match of the tournament the ‘Cats fared much better against seventh ranked Truman University.
“We played right with Truman,” Yoder said, “We had a good shot at winning but we made several key aggressive hitting errors.”
The ‘Cats were led on offense by Garvick, who registered 17 of the team’s 57 kills. On defense a trio of Wildcats, Mandie Meyer, Garvick, and Megan Elliott, scored in double figures with digs, with Elliott leading the way with 17.
On day two of the tournament the ‘Cats faced second ranked UMD and Barry University.
The ‘Cats opened the day by losing in three straight games to UMD. The ‘Cats struggled once again to summon much offense and scored only 9 points in the first game, and recording only 23 kills the entire match.
The final match of the tournament against Berry University was the Wildcats’ closest match with NMU losing two games to three. The ‘Cats were led on offense by Garvick who recorded 18 kills and Amy Anderson-Goldsworthy who contributed 16 more kills.
The weekend tournament was a learning experience for the team and something that they can build on, Yoder said.
“One real surprise for us was freshman Katie Twardzik,” Yoder said. “We were going to red-shirt Katie, but then we needed someone to step up this weekend and she did. We are really expecting her to contribute this year after what she showed us this weekend.”
The Wildcat volleyball team’s season continues Aug. 31 – Sept. 1 when the team travels to Grand Forks, ND, to take part in the North Dakota Fall Tourney. They will play MSU-Moorhead, MSU Crookston, University of North Dakota, and Chadron University.