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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Pizza Cat Vol. 9
Pizza Cat Vol. 9
Deirdre Northrup-Riesterer April 17, 2024

Young team prepares for season play

Rigorous practice sessions have begun as the Wildcats prepare for not only their opponents, but the challenging goals that lie ahead of them.

The NMU volleyball team has lost five of its key senior players from last year. On the offensive side, hitters Mandie Meyer, Amy Andersen-Goldsworthy and Katt Garvick graduated. Defensively, the ’Cats lost defensive specialist Rachel Green and libero Cassie Osiecki, leaving the newcomers with little experience and no taste for defeat. Head coach Dominic Yoder said the team has a lot of new faces, and that the trials ahead will be tough, but he has confidence they will pull through.

“I see this more as a strength rather than a weakness,” Yoder said.  “Yes, we did lose some outstanding players, but this is also a great opportunity, because even though the new additions to the team lack the experience, they have fire, energy and absolutely no fear.”

Junior setter Maddie Ogden, left, backs up junior middle hitter Emma Wolfe, right, as she goes for the kill against a Ferris State athlete. Wolfe earned 206 kills last season, an average of 1.81 kills per set. // File photo/NW

Senior captain Katie Twardzik is the only senior now on the team, and she is doing her best to pass on her experience as a volleyball player to her teammates.

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“One of the most important things I try to tell players is to stay relaxed, do the techniques we practice, and then apply it to the game,” Twardzik said.

Twardzik also said she feels this year’s team is energetic and strong-willed.

“Everyone stays pretty positive, and we try to keep everyone motivated and help players with the system,” she said.

Volleyball has been a fun experience for Twardzik, but this will be her final season with the NMU volleyball team as she continues to pursue her career in teaching.

Even though the volleyball team has lost some valuable players, they also welcome 10 new freshmen as well as one transfer student. Among those new freshmen is a new international player from Brazil, Ana “Lena” Lopes, who said she is excited to have the opportunity at NMU.

“It’s a great feeling to be here and I’m looking forward to four years of not only playing volleyball but to also doing well in my studies.”

Lopes said she has a strong passion for the game, so she wants to make the most of collegiate competition.

“I love everything about volleyball, and it is very exciting for me to play it,” she said. “The important thing is that I want to have fun and enjoy it while I am here at NMU.”

With energy and determination like this, any fan would think the NMU team would be unstoppable, but the head coach looks at it from a different angle.

“We have to be careful of the ‘no fear’ part because these girls come right out of high school and have done very well there, and have yet to see what defeat is. That is where the experience comes into play.

The NMU volleyball team will hold their annual Green and Gold game this Saturday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. The Wildcats will have their season home opener as part of the Wildcat Open, a four-game tournament which begins on Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers. NMU will also play Winona State, American International and  University of Minnesota – Crookston.

Yoder said the team has high expectations and is ready to get the season underway.

“With discipline, hard work, and paying very close attention to details we will not only make up for the lack of experience but we will succeed in anything we set our minds to this season,” Yoder said.  “The fans will definitely be in for a real treat.”

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