Volleyball splits in St. Cloud tourney

John Becker

The NMU volleyball team split their four games on Saturday April 10, in the St. Cloud State Tournament and will be facing another tournament next weekend to finish out the spring season.

NMU head coach Dominic Yoder said the team is still working on keeping their heads in the game 100 percent.

“We became a little more consistent overall, but we were still inconsistent at times, and that’s where our youth was showing through,” Yoder said.

The Wildcats (5-5) were defeated 2-1 by the Bemidji State University Beavers with set scores of 20-25, 16-25, and 15-10. Sophomore outside Emma Wolfe headed the offense with seven kills, followed by freshman middle Sami Vierk with six and junior outside Katie Twardzik with five.

Defensively, sophomore right libero Becca Feuerherd led with 15 digs, followed by freshman outside Daniela Branco with 10.

In the noon game, the ’Cats swept the SCSU Huskies with scores of 25-16, 25-22, and 15-12. Vierk led with 11 kills and Wolfe was close behind with 10. Branco led with 10 digs and Feuerherd followed with eight.

The Wildcats were swept by the Southwest Minnesota State Mustangs (SMSU) in the third game 21-25, 19-25 and 15-13. Wolfe, Vierk, and freshman Abby Lovell all had five kills. Feuerherd earned 20 digs and Branco had nine.

The ’Cats handled the fourth game with a two-set victory over the SCSU Alumni 25-21 and 25-20. Andree Ring led with 10 kills, Branco and Vierk followed with five. Feuerherd dug 12 and Branco contributed 10 digs to the defense.

Feuerherd averaged five digs per set in the tournament, which she said was her goal for each game earlier in the season. Feuerherd currently has four and a half digs per set on the season.

Wolfe said the four-game tournament was tiring, but that most of the athletes are conditioned for tournament play.

“A lot of us played in those types of tournaments in high school,” she said.

As a player who will be a junior next year, Wolfe said she’s doing her best to be a good role model for the team.

“I was in that spot once, where I didn’t know all of what was going on. You just need to go out and help everyone,” Wolfe said.

Yoder said the team is progressing well but that some individual efforts need to be picked up, especially when it comes to personal discipline and the will to compete.

“Some players are starting to make their positions more concrete and others are still kind of opening up the opportunity for the new players coming in,” he said.

Branco said she feels the team is becoming closer every day.

“It’s difficult because we’re all young, some things are hard to figure out,” Branco said. “But we’re more united. We’re learning together to reach our goals as a team.”

Wolfe agreed that the ’Cats are a young team, but she said once everything falls into place, they will be better than ever.

“With a lot of people playing new positions and getting into new roles, they’re learning how to step up and create opportunities,” Wolfe said. She also said the ’Cats’ win/loss record doesn’t show how good they are.

The Wildcat volleyball team will finish the spring season on Saturday April 17, when they play five 2-set games in the University of Minnesota-Duluth Tournament. Games will be played against Concordia-St. Paul, SCSU, St. Scholastica, UMD and the UMD Alumni. Concordia went 37-0 last season and Yoder said he expects them to test the mettle of the Wildcats.

Yoder said the tournament will provide one last learning experience for the team before the fall season.

“We’ve seen most of (the teams), so it’s just going to be about us getting in the gym and playing hard,” Yoder said. He also said the record doesn’t matter so much in the spring season, and that he cares more about the athletes maturing and learning all the facets of volleyball.