Volleyball wins pair in home opener

The Northern Michigan University volleyball team returned to play last Saturday, as it defeated both Lake Superior State University and Michigan Tech University, 3-0 in the Vandament Arena.

Head coach Dominic Yoder said he felt the team played well in the first two games of the spring season.

“I thought it was really good,” Yoder said. “I thought they applied the principles we’ve been working on in January and February. Compared to the teams we played, I thought that we were more in system.”

The two matches were the first time the team had played competitively since the first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament last November. The team had primarily focused on individual practices during the time between the end of last season and last weekend’s games.

Because of this, the team was itching to play another opponent. The rival Huskies were the first team to supply this competitive challenge.

Middle hitter Emma Wolfe said the rivalry with Tech adds some fun to the competition.

“I was so excited to start playing again,” said Wolfe. “I love playing. So playing any team was great for me. With Michigan Tech though, we have always had a rivalry with them. So it’s always fun to play them.”

The Wildcats easily beat Michigan Tech University (25-17, 25-16, 25-19).

Northern continued its success against Lake Superior State University (25-15, 26-24, 25-16.) The second set was the closest that the Wildcats had played all day, as they were losing 24-23. NMU then scored three straight points, finished by a Wolfe kill to end the set victoriously.

“It was good to know that we could count on each other as a team, and that even when we were down, we were able to relax and pull the set out,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe said these two victories over GLIAC foes were a good way to start off the spring season for the Wildcats.

“These wins mean that all our hard work during the winter finally paid off,” said Wolfe. “We worked so hard with our lifting and our individual practices that it feels good to win right away.”

Yoder said the main purpose of the spring games is to get underclassmen used to the speed of the college game.

“There’s such a gap between the end of the spring season and the start of the fall season,” Yoder said. “What we use spring season for is to get our younger players a chance to experience the college game, and just get used to playing at that speed.”

Northern will try to keep up the winning ways as they go on the road the next three weeks to Eastern Michigan, Wisconsin-Green Bay, and Minnesota-Duluth in similar tournaments.

Last season the ‘Cats beat four Division-I opponents – Eastern Michigan, Cleveland State, Oakland and Toledo. Yoder said he feels his team can do the same thing this year.

“If we play the way we did on Saturday, I think we can compete with both the D-I teams we face this year,” Yoder said. “Beating a D-I team helps us out in recruiting because recruits ask, ‘What level of volleyball is D-II?’ We can tell them we are on the same level as D-I mid-majors.”

The Wildcats are back in action this weekend when they travel to Ypsilanti to take part in the Eastern Michigan spring tournament. The ‘Cats will face GLIAC foes Saginaw Valley State and Northwood, along with Eastern Michigan and the Eastern Michigan Alumni Squad. The matches begin at 10:30 a.m.