The NMU volleyball team was victorious in both their games last weekend and will continue on the road this week in cross-division play.
On Oct. 2, the Wildcats (10-7 overall, 6-3 GLIAC) handily defeated the Tiffin University Dragons (2-16 overall, 0-8 GLIAC) in three sets with scores of 25-15, 25-22 and 25-22.
The ‘Cats then lost their first set of the Oct. 3 game to the Ashland Eagles (8-9 overall, 4-5 GLIAC) but took the subsequent sets winning 3-1 with scores of 19-25, 25-19, 25-19 and 25-15, bringing the ‘Cats winning streak to four.
NMU head coach Dominic Yoder said the quality of the team’s play against Ashland was some of the best this season.
“Our key to success against Ashland was definitely our defense,” Yoder said. “We dug almost 20 balls per set where we’ve been averaging between 12 and 13, so for us to perform that well showed what we’re really capable of doing defensively.”
NMU senior libero Cassie Osiecki said it feels great for the team to see the results of their labor. Osiecki had 24 digs against Ashland followed by senior player Rachel Green with 18 and senior captain Mandie Meyer with 16.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster to be on a winning streak. We’ve worked hard in practice and in competition, so I think we’ve really earned it,” she said
Yoder said even though the team has been doing well, they are still focusing on keeping the quality of play high because the teams this weekend are equal matches for the ‘Cats.
“The team needs to keep their internal intensity, internal drive and motivation going strong, especially against these two teams that have the ability to play as consistently well as we’ve been playing,” he said.
Yoder also said the team is within striking distance of their goal for the regular season, which is to finish first in the GLIAC North Division so they can host the conference tournament. They are currently one game out of first with five division games remaining.
The Wildcats will play Wayne State (14-3 overall, 6-3 GLIAC) on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. in Detroit before travelling to Midland, Mich. to face off against the Northwood University Timberwolves (6-11 overall, 4-5 GLIAC) on Oct. 10. in Midland, Mich.
Osiecki said the two matches will be huge for the team.
“Right now, there’s a three-way tie for second place in the GLIAC North Division,` so by winning we give ourselves a chance to possibly win the conference,” Osiecki said.
The keys to victory, Yoder said, once again rest in the hands of the defense.
“Wayne State’s got two exceptional left side hitters and a quality middle hitter, so we need to slow the left side down and really force the middle to try and score against us,” he said.
The games this weekend are the last cross-division games for the ‘Cats, so Yoder said the team wants to come back to North Division games on a high note.
“Wayne State’s the number two team in the South [Division], and this is our last opportunity to play them unless we see them in the conference tournament,” Yoder said. “We want to put ourselves in a situation where we are at an advantage when we get into the conference tournament.”
The ‘Cats will participate in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) – GLIAC Crossover Tournament Oct. 16-17 before heading back home to the Vandament Arena to play Saginaw Valley State on Oct. 23 at 6 p.m.