Volleyball set to play in spring season


While the hockey team and many loyal fans travel south, the Northern Michigan University volleyball team will stay in the U.P. as it hosts the spring tournament against Lake Superior State University and Michigan Tech, Saturday in the Vandament.

The tournament will start at noon, followed by NMU matches at 2:30 and 5 p.m.

The round robin style tournament will allow the Wildcat team the first opportunities to play together after individual workouts over the winter months.

“In January and February, it’s just (the players), the coach and the ball,” said head coach Dominic Yoder.

The tournament will also give 2009-10 captains Katt Garvick and Mandie Meyer an opportunity to lead the team.

“Seniors from last year can compete,” Yoder said. “But the spring season is mostly for others to prepare for the fall.”

The tournament is the first of four competitions across the Midwest for the Wildcats. The next three weeks NMU will head to Eastern Michigan University, UW-Green Bay, and University of Minnesota-Duluth. EMU (10-22, 4-12 Mid American in 2008) and UWGB (9-18, 5-11 Horizon League in 2008) are both Division-I schools and present higher levels of competition for the Wildcats.

Last year NMU beat two Division-I schools in spring play. Northern (20-12, 11-5 GLIAC) wants to play the tougher teams to help them continue on the successes of last season.

NMU made it to the NCAA Division-II tournament for the first time since 2004.

The fifth-seeded Wildcats lost to the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds in five sets.

“The NCAA tournament was an eye opener for the team and they want to keep building with it,” Yoder said. “They have set the elite eight and the regional championships as goals.”

The tournament also functions as a fundraiser for the team. Tickets for the three games cost $5 for all spectators.

During the regular season, Northern students get in for free, but with the purchased tickets, the spectators get an entry into a raffle to win prizes ranging from free meals at restaurants in Marquette or Sault Ste. Marie to an iPod or a Playstation 3.

“The tournament is fan friendly,” Yoder said. “The prizes are geared more toward college students. The opponents are in the Upper Peninsula. If you aren’t going to Detroit, then come to the Vandament.”