The women’s volleyball team enters the second round of postseason after finishing off the 2013 regular season with two wins against GLIAC teams, Saginaw Valley State University and Lake Superior State University.
The ’Cats traveled to play both conference teams, making for a weekend of games on the road, where they won the first of the two matches in a full five games versus Saginaw Valley State University on Friday, Nov. 15.
Head coach Dominic Yoder said over the past seven years the team has gone down to Saginaw Valley, the winner of the match came down to five sets.
“I think the biggest key to that [win over SVSU] was the way we played in set five,” Yoder said. “We were down 0-2; our team really rallied and it came down to blocking. They played a really good game.”
Senior left side hitter Lina Lopes led the Wildcats against SVSU with 22 kills.
Senior setter Kellisha Harley had 49 assists and sophomore libero and defensive specialist Alex Berger led the team in 19 digs.
Freshman left side and middle hitter Bridget Bussell led the team with five blocks.
The following evening, Saturday, Nov. 16, the ’Cats headed north to compete against Lake Superior State University for a match win in three sets.
Senior left side and middle hitter Kalli Herron led the Wildcats with 12 kills. Harley put up 21 assists and Berger led the digs for the second night in a row with 11.
The weekend marks the end of regular season play for the volleyball team, of which Herron said went really well for the women.
“We had 22 wins; anything over 20 is really good,” Herron said. “We were really happy to have such a high regular season record.”
The Wildcats are now engaged in post-season play in lieu of a conference championship.
The team hosted the University of Findlay Oilers in the GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20 and earned a victory in five sets, finishing with an 18-16 victory in the fifth game.
The Wildcats took sets one and three, but fell short in sets two and four.
This led the team into a fifth set, where the ’Cats were down by as much as five when the Oilers pulled ahead 6-1 off a kill by freshman outside hitter Hannah Tong. Lopes tallied a kill off an assist from Harley to tie the game at 10, and the ’Cats stuck with the Oilers for the remainder of the set, closing out with a victory.
Yoder said the victory was a collective team effort.
“After we were down five, we called a couple time-outs and got them refocused,” Yoder said. “One thing we know about this group is they just fight. They’re scrappy; they fight for every point.”
Herron led the team in kills with 26 and Harley backed up the offense with 60 assists. Lopes tallied 22 digs for the ’Cats and senior middle hitter Sarah Hamilton led the team in blocks with two solo and four assists.
Hamilton finished the fifth set with a block against sophomore middle blocker Julie Lyons to end the Oilers’ 2013-14 volleyball season.
The Wildcats head down to Grand Valley State University to continue their run in the GLIAC Semifinal game this Saturday, Nov. 23.
“It’s been a long time, I’m happy to be back,” Yoder said. “I’m really happy for this group of seniors to really put themselves back in that opportunity.”
The ’Cats completed regular season with a 22-9 overall record and a 15-3 conference record. They went 11-2 at their home court in Vandament Arena.
Yoder said the coaching staff is very proud of the team for winning 22 matches after setting a preseason team goal of 20 match victories in regular season.
“That’s a huge accomplishment for them, especially coming off a 20-win season last year,” Yoder said. “We were right there in the hunt, tied for first and tied for second the whole year long. We ended up tied second overall, going third into the tournament. Even against the number one team that we lost to and the number two team that we lost to, we were right in those matches, so we’re proud of the team and their accomplishments throughout the course of the year.”