Gold tops green in preseason match

Laura Conway

Last Wednesday marked the start of the 2011 NMU Wildcat volleyball season with the annual green and gold match-up.
After two weeks of intense two-a-day training sessions, the team gets a break from the usual practice schedule and a chance to show off their skills in an intra squad match in front of family, friends and fans.
Senior hitter Emma Wolfe said she was excited to scrimmage after a long couple weeks of practices and drilling.
“I love playing in front of our fans and crowd and showing everyone what we are made of and what the season is going to look like,” Wolfe said. “We need a mix up after a while.”

The Gold team won out over the Green team in a three game shut out: 25-13, 25-20 and 25-11.

On the Green team were freshmen Kaitlyn Hoffman and Elizabeth Zanone, sophomores Kristin Wetzel, Katie Dzedzie, Sarah Hamilton, Danielle Kowolski, Brittany Covert and Kalli Herron, junior Andree Ring and senior Catherine Waybright.

The team was coached by assistant Kim Falkenhagen and student assistant Eddie Bollman.

Middle hitter Kowolski helped her team with seven kills; Hamilton and Herron aslo each had six assists. Hoffman dropped a quick tip right into an opening in the Gold defense in addition to 19 of her assists in the game.

The Gold team consisted of season starter sophomores Ellen Lemos, Ana Lopes and Suzanne Solin, juniors Kalin Zimmerman, Abby Lovell, Jasmin Calhoun and Sami Vierk and seniors Becca Feuerherd and Emma Wolfe.
The team was coached by head coach Dominic Yoder and student assistant Leonard Thomas.

While Wolfe was very excited about her 10 kills for the match, she was also very pleased to see the team as a whole working well together on what they had been practicing throughout the week.

“I love getting kills,” Wolfe said. “Our defense and blocking has been really coming together. We’ve been working on that a lot this week; That’s something we really struggled on last season.”

Sophomore Ana Lopes noticed improvement in her own game because of the hard practicing.

“I was working on floor defense because I fall down too much,” Lopes said. “I have to stay on my feet. I’ve been working on that; it’s been a lot of repetition during practice.”

Lopes also pointed out how well the new starters on the team are getting along and how the team chemistry is improving.

“We have two new starters; one is a la barrel and the other is a middle hitter,” Lopes said. “Both change a lot during the game, and middle hitter and setter have to have good chemistry and communication, and it’s good because both do.”

One of those new starters is middle hitter year junior Calhoun, who is joining the team from Kishwaukee College in Malta, Ill.

“Players are coming together and working really well together. The chemistry is great,” Calhoun said. “It feels good coming from junior college, It’s a big change with intensity because the stakes are higher.
She has some big plans for her new Wildcat family.

“I’m looking to win nationals. I want to beat Concordia State because they always win,” Calhoun said. “Then I can enjoy the winter up here, because I love the snow.”

Thomas is excited about the two additions to his starting team.

“Two new starters are adjusting very well with our team,” Thomas said. “They will help catapult our defensive system in the top 10.”

Yoder said his team is ready for their season to start because they have two big weekends coming up that will set the tone for the rest of their season.

“The first tournament is in St. Paul against the top two teams in the nation,” Yoder said. “It will give us a good feel to what we have to do to compete at the elite Eight level at the end of the season,” Yoder said.

The team is looking forward to conference home opener Sept. 9-11 against conference rivals Saginaw Valley State, Grand Valley State and Ferris State. Last year the team was able to beat SVSU but lost close ones to GVSU and Ferris state (25-15, 26-28,25-16, 25-20).

Yoder said he and the team will be looking forward to the student body packing Vandament Arena for this important weekend.