Volleyball wins two of three

john.becker

The NMU volleyball team came away from the first conference-play road trip with a split last weekend, losing an emotional match to Saginaw Valley State University but handily beating Lake Superior State.

The Wildcats (6-5 overall, 2-1 GLIAC) played the first match of their weekend against Saginaw Valley State. The two teams proved to be well matched, as it took five closely contested sets to determine a winner. The ‘Cats ultimately lost the match, and finished with set scores of 25-23, 13-25, 29-31, 25-23, 21-19.

Senior libero Cassie Osiecki said the ‘Cats did everything they could to earn a victory.

“We left our hearts on the floor, but we just came up short. Sometimes you play your best and you just get the short end of the stick,” she said. “It was a particularly difficult game for us; there was so much emotion because we knew we played as hard as we could.”

The ‘Cats were able to dominate overall against Lake Superior State University, as they won in four sets with set scores of 25-16, 22-25, 25-19, 25-17. Osiecki attributed the team’s success to an improved technical performance.

“We served very aggressive and blocked very well. We also pass served well which allowed us to have a very effective offense,” said Osiecki.

Head coach Dominic Yoder said the team has been focusing on their outside game since the loss against Saginaw.

“We’ve been focusing on consistency with left side attacking, trying to improve our forward defense, and our blocking,” he said. “We’re looking to improve the efficiency of the left side hitters because opposed to the middle they have been struggling a bit. Our middles have been carrying us a bit and we’re trying to increase their strength but also trying to emphasize those outside, left and right side hitters.”

The ‘Cats added to their GLIAC win column when they bested rival GLIAC Michigan Tech on Tuesday. They lost only one set en route to a victory by set scores of 25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 25-16.

“Our serve was on; we forced them to make errors,” said Yoder of the Tech game. “Two of our seniors, Mandie Meyer and Amy-Andersen Goldsworthy, really stood up for this game.”

Meyer ended the match with 18 kills in 47 attempts. She also had nine digs, one solo block and one block assist. Goldsworthy tallied four of the team’s 10 blocks. Osiecki led the defensive game with 14 digs.

The Wildcats will continue their home stand next weekend with games against Grand Valley State on Sep. 18 and Ferris State on Sep. 19. Osiecki said it’s revitalizing to play games at home.

“It’s great to be at home because there’s a different energy on your home floor,” she said. “I think you play harder when you’re at home because it’s your fans, your crowd, your gym, so we’re really excited to play some conference games on our home floor.”

Yoder agreed that playing a few home games will do the team some good.

“The players always enjoy playing at home, especially playing in front of their fans,” he said. “We’d like to get a huge fan base from our student population so we want to encourage everyone to come out and watch the games against Ferris and Grand Valley State. It’s going to be a very competitive set of games and it will be a great opportunity to see quality volleyball.”

Yoder said the team is eager to rise in the conference standings.

“Without a doubt we’re ready to move up,” he said. “It’s all about wins and losses. We saw from the first few weeks that anyone can beat anyone, so the conference is pretty evenly matched this year.”

Yoder also said the experience of playing highly ranked teams at the Triton Invitational in California several weeks ago showed that the ‘Cats have the ability to compete against highly ranked teams. In that tournament, NMU took a set from the number-two ranked team.

“It [the Triton Invitational] taught us to play at a high level for an extended period of time. It’s going to be very competitive, the GLIAC, so playing those teams should have a dramatic influence on the outcome this week,” Yoder said.

The team plays in the Berry Events Center on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game against Grand Valley State begins at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s against Ferris State is at 3 p.m.