Volleyball wins its fifth-straight

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After defeating GLIAC South foes Northwood on Friday and Wayne State on Saturday, the NMU volleyball team extended its win streak to five games.

With the wins, NMU sits in third place of the GLIAC North at 8-3 in conference and 13-7 overall.

Instead of giving credit to the team’s play on court, NMU head coach Dominic Yoder credits the winning streak to the team’s hard work outside of matches.

“The players really had a great week in practice, and we tried some new things and they really liked them,” he said. “We’re trying to make practice different, maybe a little more intense, and a little more invigorating, and I think we took that into the weekend and competed.”

Topping the charts

Friday, the ‘Cats dropped the Northwood Timberwolves in three straight games (25-21, 31-29, 25-17). Saturday they continued their winning ways against the Warriors of Wayne State, finishing up 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-20).

“They were not easy wins for us and we had to compete for every point,” Yoder said. “I think our consistency in our serve reception and our defense was outstanding, and our offense was clicking. So, I think, with all those things put together, it makes for a potent team to play against.”

The matches were solid statistically for the upperclassmen, as junior Daniela Bezerra was second on the team in kills with a two-day total of 26. Leading the way in kills was senior captain Caryn VanBeckum with 30.

VanBeckum’s performance over the weekend earned her GLIAC North player of the week honors. She has 175 kills for the season and averages 3.18 kills a game. She also leads the league in points per game, with 4.18. “Caryn is our number one attacker and really played that way this weekend,” Yoder said.

Not to be outdone, freshman setter Madeline Ogden led the team in assists both days with 78. She now ranks as the top setter in the GLIAC North. In her 57 games, Ogden has recorded 600 assists for an average of 10.53 per game.

“You never expect a freshman to come in and be a starter, but I think she has earned her position,” Yoder said. “[Her play] is a credit to our passing as well as our attackers, but she has really come a long way since those first couple weekends.”

Crossing regional paths

This Friday, the ‘Cats will travel to Indianapolis to compete in three matches of the GLIAC and Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) crossover tournament.

The GLIAC and GLVC combined for 25 teams and the top eight will receive a bid to the national tournament. The NCAA volleyball tournament grants 64 teams entry, with eight coming from each region.

“This is going to determine the rest of our season,” Yoder said. “Based on how we play will really make it easier for the regional ranking committee to decide where we stand.”

NMU will square off against Northern Kentucky (11-1 GLVC, 21-3 overall) on Friday. Later in the day, the Wildcats will try to stop the host team, the University of Indianapolis (9-3 GLVC, 20-5).

On Saturday, to end the tournament, the ‘Cats will face Southern Indiana (5-6 GLVC, 11-10).

NMU has only faced Indianapolis once this season and lost 2-3. Yoder said not playing these teams beforehand will make training this week difficult, but added the unfamiliarity is no excuse.

“We’ll look at stats, and we’ll look at video and we’ll prepare for them that way,” he said. “We would like to go in and sweep, but we hope to win at least 2 out of 3 matches.”