Lady ’Cats continue to bloom in spring

Jon Young

The spring season continued last Saturday for the NMU women’s volleyball team, and for the second weekend in a row the ’Cats were able to pick up a pair of wins, this time at the St. Cloud University Tournament.

The ’Cats jumped to a quick start as they broke out the brooms against the St. Cloud State University Alumni team, sweeping them 25-17, 25-21 and 15-9.

Head coach Dominic Yoder said junior left-side hitter Andree Ring and sophomore left-side hitter Lina Lopes paced the team.

“Andree Ring was really good for us offensively,” Yoder said. “Defensively, I thought Lopes really played well. I think our team blocked well all weekend and that was one of the matches we blocked well.”

Ring led the ’Cats with 11 kills and 15 points in the winning effort. Lopes finished with a game-high 10 digs. Sophomore left-middle hitter Kalli Herron also added six kills.

The second game of the day paired the Wildcats against St. Cloud State University’s varsity squad. NMU won the series 2-1, winning the first two games 25-17, before dropping the third game, 15-10.

Yoder has mentioned the importance of Lopes taking a leadership role. In the set against St. Cloud, she took a big step, leading the team with nine kills and 11.5 points.

“Lina does a lot for us,” Yoder said. “She’s a six-rotation player so she serves, she attacks and she plays floor defense.
We’re just expecting her to be really consistent in all areas and then obviously be a good team leader on the floor and she’s really stepping into her leadership qualities as a person.”

Also pacing the ’Cats in their second win of the day was junior libero Kalin Zimmerman, who added 23 digs.

Yoder said it was good to get that kind of production from the libero position.

“Twenty-three digs in three sets; that’s just phenomenal,” Yoder said. “That’s over seven digs per set; that’s No. 1 in the nation right there.”

Herron, who added five block-assists and six kills, said being vocal helps the teamwork and was a key component in picking up the wins.

“In our second game, we were really high energy and everybody was communicating a lot, so it helped a ton,” Herron said. “We talked really well. Our service was really good our blocking was good which helped a ton compared to the weekend before.”

In the third set against Winona State, the ’Cats won the first game, 25-15, before dropping the next two, 25-22 and 15-13. Herron said the team didn’t talk enough in the third match.

“Our third game we didn’t really communicate; we kind of stopped talking to each other,” Herron said. “It just got down to the point that we shutdown in our third game and when we shutdown, we shutdown pretty hard.”

In the third match the Wildcats were led by Ring’s six kills. Zimmerman chipped in 11 digs and freshman setter Kaitlyn Hoffman added 17 assists.

“They played really well against Winona State in the first set but then kind of struggled a little bit,” Yoder said. “It really came down to serve reception; in the second set it wasn’t very good, it wasn’t crisp enough, which caused us to not be able to offensively attack them and when we can’t attack, our defense struggles.”

Yoder said it’s been a successful spring season and he likes how the team has been able to take what they’ve learned in practice and adjust to new spots.

“(It’s been successful) especially with new players playing different positions trying some new things,” Yoder said. “Change is difficult, but being able to be successful with change is the point of spring.”

The Wildcats are on the road again this weekend as they travel to Duluth this Sunday. NMU kicks off competition against University of Minnesota–Duluth, before taking on Michigan Tech and ending the day against the University of Minnesota Crookston.