After last Tuesday’s match at Michigan Tech, the NMU volleyball team went on the road again and split two matches in three days over the weekend.
The ‘Cats won 3-2 against the Ferris State Bulldogs on Friday and then fell to the hands of the No. 8 Grand Valley State Lakers 2-3 on Sunday.
The Wildcats were coming off a tough road win last Tuesday, said head coach Dominic Yoder, but they still should’ve finished better than they did.
“I think we went on the road, and we won two out of three matches in a week. Which was good, but it wasn’t where we should have been,” he said.
Against Ferris, NMU came out and won the first two sets 25-17, 25-23, but had trouble closing and fell in the next two sets 21-25 and 22-25. But the ‘Cats prevailed in the fifth and final set, winning 15-11.
“We walked into Ferris and played really well the first two sets, and did not play well in three and four. In the fifth we got out to a really fast lead and we were able to win – but we still had (some) trouble closing.” Yoder said.
In the determining fifth set, NMU had 72 percent of the sideouts. The Wildcats also came away with .125 hitting percentage with 55 kills and 125 attempts, dominating FSU, who comparably earned a .032 hitting percentage.
Individually, Daniela Bezerra led the ‘Cats with 16 kills, with Mandie Meyer adding 14 along with Caryn VanBeckum at 11. Rachel Green led the way in assists with 43 and teammate Cassie Osiecki had 20 digs on the defensive side.
In Sunday’s match against GLIAC North leader and nationally ranked Grand Valley, Northern got out to an early lead once again.
The ‘Cats won the first two sets 25-21 and 25-20 but dropped the next three 20-25, 24-26, 8-15.
“Grand Valley is a good team, and that is why they are No. 8 in the nation-because they don’t give up,” Yoder said.
At the end of the day, the Wildcats had a hitting percentage of .140 with 52 kills in 185 total attempts, along with 26 errors. VanBeckum had 17 kills while Meyer added 13. Green had 42 assists and two service aces for the match.
On the defensive side of the ball five players had 10 or more digs and the top players had 10 or more digs and the top three were Osiecki (23), Meyer (16) and Breanne Zaremba (13).
Coach Yoder said his team had the opportunity once again to close the match early, but they were unable to secure the victory. “We had a chance to close it out and we froze again, and we didn’t finish. And obliviously having two sets before, where we didn’t finish made going into the fifth set more difficult,” Yoder said.
Yoder compared his team’s play to the Rocky movies, and said his team needs to go for the knockout when they can and not coast into later rounds.
“I think when we got to the fourteenth round we just got tired, and stopped throwing punches,” Yoder said. “And it allowed the opponent to escape us.”
To rebound from losing two early leads in two matches, Yoder said he plans on making practices more competitive and to work on the mentality it takes to finish a match.
“I think we played a little weak, but we’re a team and each of us is working hard and trying to be more confident to win more matches,” outside hitter Bezerra said.
Yoder said he is looking for his team to overcome the lack of confidence as they go into this weekend on the road against Hillsdale and Findlay.
Katt Garvick, a junior hitter, said the team didn’t point figures after the loss and the ‘Cats used it as motivation for this week.
“We hold each other accountable for our mistakes but we bring each other up when we’re down,” Garvick said. “We’re more focused on playing together as a unit then playing as an individual.”
She added that the past few practice have been more competitive and that mentality will help in the future.
“I think we’re really starting to play with passion at practice, and I think that’s going to be something that’s going to roll over into our matches,” Garvick said.
The ‘Cats have two competitions this weekend. First up for NMU is Friday’s match against Hillsdale, who are No.1 in the GLIAC South, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. in Hillsdale, Mich. Sunday, NMU faces off with Findlay at 2 p.m. in Findlay, Ohio.
Yoder said Friday’s match for the Cats would be an uplifting win that could set a pace for the rest of the season, but he added it would not be easy.
“This team has to show up hungry at Hillsdale,” Yoder said. “Beating them means something, and if we don’t remember our mistakes we’re due to repeat them.”