The NMU Women’s Volleyball team took on three tough conference opponents last weekend and came out of the fray unscathed, besting each one and boosting the team’s winning streak to 7-0.
Going into these matches undefeated, the Wildcats (7-0 overall, 4-0 GLIAC) were looking to stay strong and focused. Most importantly, they were determined to win at all costs.
The Wildcats first opponents were the Ferris State Bulldogs. The Wildcats defeated the Bulldogs 3-1 and moved onto the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals. The Wildcats defeated the Cardinals 3-2, sending them to their final destination at Grand Valley State where they took on the Lakers. The final score that game was also 3-2 in favor of the Wildcats.
Team captain Sami Vierk expressed how excited she was to see everyone step up to the challenge this weekend, and said that certain key elements secured their victories.
“The thing that gave us the edge over our games, especially against Grand Valley, was that every single person on the travel roster played,” Vierk said. “We wouldn’t have won without the starters and the bench being ready to go at all times. Most importantly, we stayed focused and we played clean volleyball.”
Vierk had a terrific weekend with 30 kills. Her teammates Emma Wolfe had 29 kills, and Katie Twardzik had 15. There was also one player who went above and beyond the expectations of not only her coaches and school, but the entire GLIAC.
Freshman left-side hitter Ana Lopes scored a whopping 58 kills over the weekend. Her hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed as she was awarded the GLIAC Player of the Week. The performance award is based off of three categories: kills per set, digs per set, and hitting percentage.
Lopes was excited to receive the award and at the same time said it was quite a shock.
“It was the best feeling to be able to win all the games this weekend,” Lopes said. “I was very excited to win the award, but I didn’t even know I was getting it until one of my coaches told me about it, and it was a great feeling.”
On top of Lopes being awarded with the GLIAC Player of the Week, the NMU volleyball team also moved up the Top 25 National Rankings to 21st overall in the country in Division II.
Head coach Dominic Yoder said that he is very pleased with last weekend’s results, but he also said that now is the time when the road to victory becomes a little more stressful.
“Being undefeated is great, and I couldn’t be happier in the way we played this past weekend,” Yoder said. “The road ahead is going to be more challenging and a bit more stressful to the coaches and players. We need to keep everyone alert and constantly need to keep the players learning new moves and focusing on their jobs, and that’s to play clean, hard volleyball.”
Yoder said that the next two games against GLIAC newcomer Lake Erie Storm and the Ashland Eagles have their points of being very difficult challenges for the Wildcats. Lake Erie, being new to the GLIAC, hasn’t been scouted or even had a chance to be reviewed. Ashland has a solid left-side and is known for their fierce competition.
“The deciding factor that’s going to determine whether we stay undefeated or not this weekend is going to focus on three main things: floor defense, blocking and serving,” Yoder said. “We need to hit both teams hard and fast and not give them a chance to breathe.”
The Wildcats are training harder than ever, preparing for their match-ups against Lake Erie College on Friday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Vandament Arena, and Ashland University on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 2 p.m.
If the team continues to play strong in all aspects of the game, Yoder said he expects victories this weekend.
“As long as we keep exhilarating that energy we are known to show and stay focused, we will come out ahead.”