Ladies sweep road sets: Volleyball team gears up to return home for conclusion of spring season tourney

Katie Bultman

The women’s volleyball team faced out-of-state competition at a spring tournament hosted by Minnesota-Duluth this past weekend.

The Wildcats played two teams in the tournament last Saturday, April 6 at Minnesota, and fought to bring home victories in both matches. The ’Cats faced both University of Wisconsin-Superior and host University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Junior setter Kellisha Harley said the tournament hosted the toughest competition the ’Cats have seen in the spring season.

“We did pretty well against one of the top teams in the nation, (UMD),” Harley said. “We had a few rough spots, but we handled the rough situations. We’ve been working on skill building changes to progress in the fall season, and I think we have a really good chance at competing at the national level this year.”

The ’Cats faced UW-Superior to start the tournament and finished with a solid 25-19 victory over the Yellowjackets in the first set. Superior came back to win a close second set, leaving NMU with a 23-25 loss.

Following the set, the Wildcats took consecutive victories against the Yellowjackets, finishing 25-14 and 25-15, both for the win.

Assistant coach Inga Kurgonaite said the ’Cats struggled early on with the morning sets, but worked well when they were focused.

“It came down to personal discipline of the players and staying focused during the matches,” Kurgonaite said. “We definitely found out the things that are working well and what we need to figure out to fix before the season. We have a lot to look forward to with this group of kids.”

Following, the Wildcats played University of Minnesota-Duluth in a match. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 3 in the NSIC conference during the fall 2012 season, finishing 18-2.

In the first game against the Bulldogs, the Wildcats lost 14-25 to the Division II team. Head coach Dominic Yoder said the team played sluggish in their losses, but improved overall on the blocking end, in addition to team offensive efficiency. In the second set, the ’Cats took a 25-22 win over the UMD Bulldogs, leaving both teams with one win apiece. In the third game, the Wildcats lost 19-25.

After the University of Minnesota-Duluth took the lead, the ’Cats fought back to seal the match with consecutive wins, 25-22 and 15-8 over the Bulldogs, respectively.

Junior left side and middle-hitter Kalli Herron said the Wildcats came out this weekend with really good energy against the Bulldogs.

“We played pretty good,” Herron said. “There were two sets we struggled with, but we still came out on top. The spring season was a good learning experience overall with trying out new things and it has been a good lesson that will set us up for a more successful fall season.”

The team is scheduled to play in the last tournament of the spring season beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 13 at the Vandament Arena. The Wildcats will be hosting the tournament this upcoming weekend, where Michigan Tech University, Lake State Superior University and the NMU Alumni team will be competing.

Yoder said the ’Cats are expecting good competition at home to finish off the spring season.

“We are expecting to continue to further our education in the sport of volleyball and strategies,” Yoder said. “We expect the Alumni to play strong, with their experience. We know Tech has a good team with a new coach that has been working them hard. We aren’t sure what to expect from LSSU.”

Following the game, the women’s volleyball team will attend a Student-Athlete Awards and Hall of Fame Induction at the University Center (at 6 p.m.).

From there, the team is also planning a Volleyball Alumni After Party Social at Hudson’s Classic Grill (at 9 p.m.).