This past weekend, the Wildcats started out the season by defeating opponents from Wisconsin-Parkside 3-1, Winona State 3-2, Minnesota-Crookston 3-0, and American-International 3-0 in their home invitational, the Wildcat Open.
The first match on Thursday Sept. 2 against Wisconsin-Parkside started out with the Wildcats wasting little time as Sami Vierk scored the first kill. The match kept going back and forth vigorously, having the first set end with a score of 25-23.
Quickly retaliating, Wisconsin-Parkside put the Wildcats to the test as they came back in full force to outscore the Wildcats in the second set by 22-25. But the Wildcats ultimately came up to win both the third and fourth sets (25-23 and 26-24), giving them their first win for the season. Freshman hitter Ana Lopes led the offense with 23 kills, followed by junior hitter Emma Wolfe with 13 and Sami Vierk with 12.
Lopes said it was a great feeling to earn so many victories last weekend and said it was a well- fought victory.
“I am just glad to have gotten it out of the way so we can move onward,” Lopes said. “It was also great to finally show off all the practice and hard work we have gone through, not just as one but as a team.”
Wolfe said it felt great to see a good crowd in the stands.
“The team was just so focused and determined to win tonight,” she said. “We had perfect passes, perfect set-ups and so much energy from the fans that losing tonight was not an option.”
The Wildcats took the second game of the tournament with a 3-2 victory against Winona State. Lopes led with another 23 kills, followed by Wolfe with 12 and Vierk with 10.
In their third game, the ’Cats earned a 3-0 victory against Minnesota-Crookston, where Vierk led with 10 kills, followed by Lopes and Wolfe with seven.
The Wildcats swept the tournament with their 3-0 victory over American International. Wolfe posted 11 kills, followed by Vierk and Branco with eight.
NMU was rewarded for their success by receiving 20 points towards the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s top 25. The ’Cats landed in the “received votes” category, as rival Hillsdale was the only GLIAC team to be ranked. West Florida was the 25th team recieving 53 points.
Coach Dominic Yoder said he was very happy with the results from this past weekend’s tournament but will not let his guard down for the upcoming competition.
“Last year we went 3-1 in the tournament, and this year being able to win all four games at home is a great feeling,” Yoder said. “We just need to make sure we stay consistent and watch our floor defense and serving and we should be good from here on out.”
The Wildcats prepare for their long journey on the road and are looking forward to the three games this upcoming weekend. The first GLIAC conference matchup of the season will be against Ferris State on Friday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m., second will be against Saginaw Valley State on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. and third will be against Grand Valley State on Sunday, Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. Yoder said this indeed will be some tough competition, especially against Ferris.
“Ferris State beat us twice last year, and they have a great line-up all around,” Yoder said. “We really need to make sure that we focus on floor defense and serving. We will be competing for every point, and as long as we stay consistent and focused we will come out all right.”
Yoder also said that Saginaw Valley and Grand Valley State will not be pushovers either, but the team’s main focus right now is to confront the match ahead of them and move on.