Northern spikes SVSU

jessica.wilson and jessica.wilson

The Northern Michigan volleyball team played for two and a half hours Saturday evening in the Vandament Arena to defeat the Saginaw Valley State (SVSU) Cardinals by a 3-2 margin (30-22, 29-31, 30-24, 19-30, 15-2).

The ‘Cats fell to the Cardinals three times last season in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play. This year, more than 300 fans came out to support the team against SVSU (14-7 overall, 3-5 GLIAC).

“We knew Saginaw was good going in. They beat us last year, so we knew we had to come out strong,” senior Brittany McGowan said.

During the five-game match, the Wildcats endured 29 ties and 13 lead changes, while hitting .162 with 67 kills and 10 team blocks. Sophomore Mandie Meyer led the team with 21 points, 18 kills and 12 digs. McGowan notched 51 assists and hit a team-high .286 for the ‘Cats.

“Sometimes if I’m jump setting in the front row [and] see an opening, I’ll throw down a setter dump; mixing it up like that gives us a better chance [to score],” she said.

A setter dump is a volleyball strategy in which the setter gently shoots the ball over the net to score in an open area on the court. This will often throw off the defense because they expect the setter to assist the kill, not hit the ball over the net.

SVSU’s setters Kait Harris and Amy Howard combined forces and racked up 50 assists. Harris recorded a total of 18 digs and 28 assists.

After scoring off the first two jump serves from sophomore Cassie Osiecki, Northern Michigan started strong in game one and continued to play consistently to come out on top.

“The jump serve is a hard serve [for SVSU] to play off of because it’s so fast,” Osiecki said. “Coach has been helping me work on the aggressiveness of my jump serve so I can mix it up and throw off [their] serve reception.”

Game two went kill-for-kill with long rallies across the court. NMU started the game strong again, but SVSU fought back on defense with crucial blocks. The key block in game two, from Cardinal middle hitter Amanda Jablonski, tied it up at 29 and eventually led to the SVSU win.

“[In games two and four] we played some better defense, pursued the ball a little better, stuck with rallies longer [and] blocked a little better,” Cardinal head coach Will Stanton said.

In game three, NMU managed to stay on top, snatching up the win and grabbing a short-lived one-game lead.

Despite dropping the fourth game to the Cardinals, the Wildcats never gave up, regaining their energy and pushing their way to the top in game five. Wildcat head coach Dominic Yoder said he was pleased with the players’ overall performance.

“They played consistent, smooth, under control and with a lot of pride,” Yoder said. “Day-by-day we’re always improving on the consistency level [and] it really shows on our defense as well as our offense,”