The NMU volleyball team beat Division-I Eastern Michigan this past weekend, as the team opened their spring season with four matches against D-I schools at the University of Michigan’s spring tournament.
The ‘Cats picked up their first win against a D-I school in recent history, when they beat Mid-American Conference (MAC) school Eastern Michigan in two straight games, by a score of 25-23 in each game.
Last year, Eastern won 20 matches and finished in the middle of the MAC.
“That’s pretty good to win 20 matches in any sport,” head coach Dominic Yoder said. “So for us to beat them was a big up in our confidence.”
The tournament featured each team taking on four other teams in a best-of-three series. The first two games of the match were first to 25 points and the third – if necessary – was first to 15.
In the first match of the tournament the ‘Cats lost two games to one to the University of Michigan.
“[Michigan] came out and they beat us fairly easy the first game and the second game we just played phenomenal defense and we frustrated the hell out of them, which allowed our office really to get in sync,” Yoder said.
After battling to a 2-1 loss to Michigan the ‘Cats played Purdue, the fourth best team in the Big Ten last year. Purdue beat NMU 2-0 with the games being close at 25-23 and 26-24.
In the final match of the day, NMU faced of against Norte Dame and won the first match but lost in a 2-1 final.
“We really had the momentum going in,” Yoder said “We kind of suffered a little bit. We had some poor serves at the beginning of the game which weakened our game a little bit and they were able to beat us.”
Even with the three loses, Yoder said he was proud of the teams overall play against the bigger schools. He added that when he talked with the other coaches after the games they said Northern played them very physical and didn’t quit.
“The comments I received from all four of the coaches was your team is very scrappy and they served well,” Yoder said. “That is where I want our team to be known for – that they just don’t give up.”
The next spring tournament for the Wildcats is this Saturday. Yoder said he hopes to come in with the same ideas and confidence they had for this tournament.
“I think we are going to go into the first three matches with the philosophy that they are high level competition and we have to fight to compete,” Yoder said. “And it’s not necessarily going in there to win but to compete.”
The tournament consist of four matches for the ‘Cats, three against D-I schools, Oakland, Cleveland State and Toledo. The fourth and final match of the day is against Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) foe Northwood University.
The ‘Cats have beaten Northwood the past six times they have played them and Yoder said he would use this match to see where his team is for the upcoming season.
“I think that we should go into that match wanting to win two games and winning big because of the way we have been winning against D-I teams,” he said. “So we tried to set it up so we come out really fired up against them.”