The NMU women’s volleyball team hosted a tournament last weekend against some of the best teams in the country.
Running from Aug. 27-29, the Wildcat Open marked the beginning of the official season for NMU.
The ‘Cats won three of their four games, losing only to Nationally-ranked University of Minnesota-Duluth.
The Wildcats went 3-0 their first three games, beating UW-Parkside by a score of 3 sets to 1, St. Cloud State 3-2, and Winona State University 3-0. NMU fell in their final game against University of Minnesota-Duluth by a score of 3-0. UMD was ranked 7th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) preseason poll.
Perhaps the most significant accomplishment of all was by senior captain Mandie Meyer. Meyer, an outside hitter, led the Wildcats in points in three of their four games, turning in a game high 27 points off 25 kills against UW-Parkside.
Meyer’s strong play earned her a spot on the All-Tournament team.
Meyer was also named the GLIAC Player of the Week.
“(That’s) a huge accomplishment for our players,” head coach Dominic Yoder said. “We’ve only had three other players do that in the last three years.”
The news had special significance to Meyer as well.
“It’s pretty exciting for me,” she said. “One of my goals for the year was to make player of the week at least once during the season, so for me to make it the first week is pretty exciting. It’s an honor.”
Meyer also recognized the contributions of her teammates.
“I couldn’t make the All-tournament team or Player of the Week without the help from my teammates,” she said. “I owe a lot of it to them.”
The tournament gave Yoder a chance to see whom he can expect to fill the shoes left by last year’s senior class. The team lost defensive player Caryn VanBeckum and Breanne Zaremba, leaving big holes in the team and forcing Yoder to find new athletes to step up.
Aside from Meyer, this season Yoder is turning to senior Katt Garvick and sophomore Emma Wolfe.
Garvick, an outside hitter, scored 17 points for NMU against UW-Parkside last weekend and finished with a team-high 12 kills against Winona State. Wolfe plays as middle hitter and turned in ten kills for 11 points against St. Cloud State University.
Several promising freshman are already contributing to the team as well. Among them is Abby Lovell, a setter from Leonard, Mich. Lovell finished with 46 assists against UW-Parkside. Yoder is also excited about middle blocker Sami Vierk.
“[She is] going to see dramatic playing time here in the future,” he said.
According to Yoder, the Wildcats have set several lofty goals for themselves this season.
“Twenty-two wins is one of our goals, hosting the conference tournament, winning the conference is another goal,” he said. “[We also want to be] in the elite-eight, so that means competing at the regional tournament and doing very well and finishing number one in our region.”
Meyer and co-captain Katt Garvick will do their part to ensure their team meets their goals.
“We hold our team to really high expectations,” Meyer said. “Katt and I really enforce that during practices. We really push each other to be a good team and good teammates.”
The ‘Cats will travel to California this weekend for the Triton Invitational at the University of California-San Diego. NMU will play another four game, including three against top-20 teams in the AVCA preseason poll. Opponents include Cal State-Los Angeles who was ranked 20th, host UC-San Diego, ranked 13th, and Cal State-San Bernadino who was ranked 2nd preseason and was last year’s national runner-up.
“It’s going to be a lot of good competition,” said Meyer. “It’s going to be tough, but I think we’re ready for it.”
The Wildcats will return home to the Vandament Sept. 15 for a game against the Michigan Tech. Huskies.