The NMU volleyball team continued to have a successful spring season over the weekend, beating four more teams at the University of Minnesota-Duluth tournament.
The current record for the ‘Cats in the spring is 9-3 with the three losses coming from Division I schools Norte Dame, Michigan and Purdue. Head coach Dominic Yoder said he used UM-D tournament to get the team back in the swing of playing Division II competition after playing D-I schools early on in the spring.
“I think our goal going into the weekend was to just get comfortable playing against D-II competition. The athletes are the same size, we are the same strength and have the same abilities,” Yoder said. “When you’re playing against D-I teams, they are a little bigger and a little faster, so we were just working on getting used to playing D-II volleyball again.
“And they accomplished that. They were really successful against some really good teams.”
In the first match of the weekend, the ‘Cats defeated UM-Duluth’s Alumni team 2-1 with the games scored 25-21, 25-21 and 11-15. The second match the Wildcats faced off with Division III University of Wisconsin-Superior and won all three games 25-20, 25-16 and 15-8.
Yoder said despite U-W Superior being a smaller school than Northern, NMU still had some trouble against them.
“Even through Superior was a D-III team they were feisty and unrelentless when it came to defense, so that was good for us to see,” Yoder said.
For the third match of the day, the Wildcats squared off against D-II foe U-M Duluth and handled them 3-0 with games scores of 25-15, 25-11 and 15-12.
In the final match of the day, NMU played Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference (GLIAC) rival Michigan Tech. NMU lost its last game against MTU toward the end of last season, and Yoder said they used the UM-D tournament game to send a message to the GLIAC, and prove they deserve to be at the top of the conference next season.
“I think it was a very important match, just to overcome that win and get that last match of the season against them out of our system,” Yoder said. “I think the seniors really felt we had to play well against them this season because of how we played against them the very last time (last season).”
He said to give credit to Michigan Tech because the ‘Cats, even though they won, struggled against Tech’s defense.
“As you see in any other sport, a good defense will beat a great offense anytime.
You saw that in the Super Bowl against the (New England) Patriots,” Yoder said. “It’s the same for volleyball. A good defense will beat a good offense, and we really train every single day to improve our defense.”
The spring season has brought NMU a better polished defense and offense, Yoder said, and they are right were he hoped they would be at this time.
“They really worked on their volleyball IQ and know they are smarter in how to make each other better and make our team better,” Yoder said. “I think that all those aspects have really come together at the end in these spring competition.”
The spring season for the Wildcats comes to a close this Saturday, as they face Lake Superior State in the Vandament Arena. Last season, NMU was successful against the Lakers but Yoder said the ‘Cats still can’t overlook them.
“Lake State has some quality athletes and they will come in and compete against us. And they want to avenge their end of the season loss to us,” he said.
This home match will work as a fund raiser for NMU as they head into the fall season.
The game begins at 2 p.m. and tickets are on sale for $5 from any NMU volleyball player and there is a limited amount that will be sold at the door. There will also be a drawing in between matches for door prizes.
Yoder said he and the team looked forward to games in Vandament after having success during the Spring season.
“It will be nice for the players to see a warm welcome at their home floor,” Yoder said. “And it’s always good to have a good crowd.”