Spikers roll, face Ashland in GLIACs

Cody Boyer

The NMU volleyball team dominated their final weekend of regular season, defeating Saginaw Valley State University and Lake Superior State at home.

The Wildcats took on the Saginaw Valley Cardinals on Friday, Nov. 9, beating them 3-1 with wins of 25-17, 25-18 and 27-25. On Saturday, Nov. 10, the ’Cats finished off the weekend with a win against the Lake Superior Lakers, 3-1. The team’s victories in the conference placed them in the No. 5 seed in the upcoming GLIAC Tournament (12-6 GLIAC, 20-11 overall), .

NMU head coach Dominic Yoder said the marking of the team’s victories meant more than just the appearance at the Tournament.

“The number one goal that the team had at the beginning of the year was to get 20 plus wins and compete in the post season,” Yoder said. “We achieved that, and we played with a lot of confidence and passion.”

Saturday’s match-up against the Lakers started off with the ’Cats taking the first two sets with back-to-back scores of 25-13. The Lakers answered with a victory of their own in set three, 25-19. The Wildcats clinched the match with 20 point lead in set four, 25-5.

Leading the Wildcat offense was junior left side hitter Kalli Herron with with 13 kills, followed closely by junior left side Lina Lopes with nine.

Defensively, the ’Cats held a prominent place up at the net, contributing 13 blocks. Leading the team in blocks, senior middle-hitter Jasmine Calhoun contributed seven block assists against the Lakers. Junior setter Kellisha Harley tallied two blocks of her own, along with Herron and Lopes.

Calhoun said the prospect of moving forward into the GLIAC Tournament after the victories is something the team is proud of.

“I’m so happy that we won and are going to post-season,” Calhoun said. “We played Ashland earlier in the season and lost, so we are eager to seek revenge going into the game. We are all very pumped.”

The day before, the Wildcats had also started the match against the Cardinals with a win in the first set.

SVSU answered the win with one of their own, 26-24. The ’Cats wrapped up Friday’s game by winning the final two sets.

Offensively, freshman left side Lisa Studnicka led her team with 19 kills. Junior middle hitter Sarah Hamilton tallied 12 kills of her own, along with Herron.

Hamilton said the Wildcats focused on the game plan to start the weekend off on the right foot.

“We played hard and we executed the game plan,” Hamilton said. “I think we played angry and confident tonight. We lost it a little bit in the third set, but we had the motivation to get back and finish it. It’s always nerve-wracking when it happens, but we work on it a lot in practice and worked hard.”

Calhoun started her two-day defensive lead against the Cardinals, tallying two solo blocks and nine block assists. Herron followed closely with her own six block assists. Senior libero Kalin Zimmerman finished her last regular season match with 24 digs to lead the team.

Harley contributed 20 digs, while Lopes added 17.

The game on Saturday against the Lakers marked the last home match of four Wildcat seniors, including Andree Ring, Zimmerman, Calhoun and Bailey Franklin. At the beginning of the match, the athletes and their families were honored for Senior Day.

“It was so fun having my parents here,” Calhoun said. “I’m just so happy that we could win this game and move forward into the tournament.”

The Wildcats seeks to continue their season with a tournament win against Ashland. The GLIAC Quarterfinal against the Eagles takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at Ashland, Ohio.