This past weekend, Oct. 29 and 30 was bittersweet for NMU volleyball. The Wildcats faced the Northwood Timberwolves on Friday and lost their first conference game in three sets (25-21, 25-21, 25-19), but rebounded on Saturday and took the LSSU Lakers in three sets (25-23, 25-20, 25-23).
“I thought that on Friday at times we had opportunities to pull ahead, but we lost the leads which contributed to our losses in sets,” said head coach Dominic Yoder. “Staying competitive, staying focused, especially in the middle of the sets when we have game leads, and really keeping our pressure on the opponent will help us win those sets.”
Left-side and middle hitter Kalli Herron said Northwood gave them a run for their money.
“They came ready to compete and they were looking for a win; we came in thinking it was going to be an easy win and they showed us up because we were not focused or prepared,” Herron said
However, Yoder said he was proud of how well his team came back to win the second match of the weekend.
“On Friday, we lost to a team that was playing really well and we’ve gotta give a hats-off to them,” Yoder said. “But on Saturday we came out and really took care of business and won in three so it was good to see the strength of our team and the ability to bounce back from a loss.”
Herron said she felt good about Saturday’s match, saying they communicated well as a team and served aggressively to get a few extra points on the board.
Yoder said the weekend’s highlights were with setter Abby Lovell, who played consistently with 34 assists against Northwood and 33 against LSSU.
“Sami Vierk also played really well throughout the course of the weekend, and Kalli Herron came on strong on Saturday, as well as Ana Lopes,” he said.
Kristen Wetzel dominated defensively with nine digs against Northwood; Vierk had an outstanding game as well, leading the Wildcats with an impressive 11 kills. Against the Lakers, Lopes and Herron took the lead in kills with 10 apiece and Lopes also led defensively with 12 digs.
One thing that has been on the minds of the lady Wildcats is the upcoming GLIAC and NCAA tournaments. The top eight teams in the GLIAC will move on to the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats have an impressive 14-2 record in the conference, and an overall record of 20-3. Yoder said he has no worries about his team in the upcoming event.
“As long as we stay competitive and stay hungry, I have no worries about our capabilities in the bigger tournaments. I mean, our team is a young team but they’re fighters, so it’s gonna be a fun postseason.”
In preparation for the tournaments, Yoder and his team plans to work on floor defense and blocking. The team is also working on fine-tuning their techniques and keeping the backup players ready to go.
“We’re all very excited for the GLIAC and NCAA tournaments,” Herron said. “We’re looking forward to competing and hopefully going farther into the competition. Overall, we want to end our season on a high note.”
The NMU volleyball team has one more hurdle before the final stretch, which is their competition against Hillsdale (Nov. 5), Wayne State (Nov. 6) and Findlay University (Nov. 7). These are the last regular-season games for the ’Cats.
“We never want to predict the outcomes of our matches,” Yoder said about the upcoming games. “We just expect to go in, compete, and as long as we play our best and give our best effort, then the score will dictate the outcome.”