Wildcat spikers fall in GLIAC playoffs

jessica.wilson

Northern Michigan’s volleyball season came to an end on Saturday as the Wildcats were knocked out of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) playoffs by the No. 7 Grand Valley State (GVSU) Lakers.

NMU fell to GVSU, 3-0 (30-18, 30-19, 30-21), and although GVSU is a very competitive team, NMU head coach Dominic Yoder said Northern could have played better.

“We didn’t really play our best match,” Yoder said. “Our serve reception wasn’t very good and our serving was kind of lackadaisical.But that’s something we’re going to learn from and apply to our training for next year.”

In the match, the Wildcats’ hit percentage was .103, while the Lakers’ hit .366. NMU had 31 kills in 117 total attempts, with Caryn VanBeckum contributing a team-leading eight kills. Brittany McGowan had 26 assists and 10 digs, while libero Cassie Osiecki had 13 digs. Amy Andersen-Goldsworthy and Katt Garvick each had two block assists for the ‘Cats.

After beating NMU, Grand Valley continued on to the championship match against Hillsdale Sunday afternoon and won (3-1). The Lakers will now host the Great Lakes Regional Tournament, which begins on Nov. 15.

Northern Michigan (20-12 overall, 13-5 GLIAC) finished the 2007 season with three players receiving All-GLIAC honors. Senior setter Brittany McGowan and junior middle hitter Caryn VanBeckum were chosen by GLIAC head coaches as first-team picks, while Breanne Zaremba received honorable mention. Yoder said it was a rare and honorable award for these players to have been given.

“For Brittany and Caryn to be named first-team-level GLIAC players – especially after not receiving any awards last year – really shows their character as players and as part of the team,” Yoder said. “[Vanbeckum and McGowan] worked really hard on their game to achieve this and they deserve it.”

McGowan ended her senior year with a team-leading 1,338 assists. In the GLIAC, she ranked sixth in assists with 10 per game. McGowan also had 37 service aces, 33 block assists and 35 total blocks this year.

“I’m very happy to finally achieve that goal,” McGowan said. “I am also very thankful to my teammates and coaching staff who helped me to earn this honorable accomplishment.”

VanBeckum helped NMU with 426 kills, 51 service aces, 19 block solos, 99 block assists, 118 total blocks and 545.5 points. VanBeckum was eighth in the GLIAC in kills (3.49 per game) and sixth in points (4.47 per game). She was also a two-time GLIAC North Division Player of the Week and the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Week this year.

“To be recognized with other outstanding players as a first-team pick is an awesome feeling and a great honor,” VanBeckum said.

Zaremba, from Milwaukee, Wis., had 32 service aces, 414 digs and 26 block assists during the season.

Yoder said he will use this season to help NMU volleyball build a strong future.

“[The players] have given me an opportunity to utilize this season as a stepping stone into next year,” Yoder said. “We got better as the year progressed and that has given us a spring board that will allow us to be successful at the beginning of the year next season.”

Overall, Yoder said that he and the rest of the coaching staff are pleased with how the season played out.

This was Yoder’s first year and he said he was grateful that the NMU community has shown so much support to him and the team.

“It’s outstanding here. The administration’s support at Northern is outstanding and the community of Marquette has been outstanding as well,” Yoder said. “Marquette is a wonderful place to be to coach volleyball and to be a part of the community, so I look forward to many more years here.”

Now the coaching staff and players of the Northern Michigan volleyball team will focus on strengthening consistency and endurance during winter semester training sessions, said Yoder. This will aid them in preparation for spring competitions, which will take place next March.