Volleyball team takes on two Ohio opponents

Ray Bressette

After suffering their first conference loss of the season this past weekend, the NMU women’s volleyball team will look to get back in the win column this weekend as they travel to Malone University and Walsh University this weekend.

The Wildcats went 1-1 last weekend at home, winning the first match 3-0 over Hillsdale University Friday Sept. 26, and fell 3-1 to Findlay University on Saturday, Sept. 27. Junior left back Alex Berger is leading the GLIAC with 255 digs for NMU, averaging 5.54 per set. Junior left setter Lisa Studnicka is leading the GLIAC in kills per set with 3.5.

Head coach Dominic Yoder said the Wildcats battled hard in their first conference loss.

“We won pretty much every category besides serve and serve receive,” Yoder said. “We competed at a really high level, it’s just those breaks in volleyball in the end. Findlay had a really good serving team that just keep drawing the hammer on us over and over again, and our hat’s off to them for being a good serving team.”

The Wildcats are in third place out of eight teams in the GLIAC North Division with a conference record of 6-1 and 6-6 overall.

Junior defensive specialist Lindsey Keough said the team’s chemistry is what’s leading to the team’s success.

“We’re really bonding together great as a team,” Keough said. “The freshman are really stepping up and getting the job done. Everyone gets along well, and it shows up as we help each other with great chemistry on the floor.”

The ’Cats will travel to Malone University to take on the Pioneers at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3 in Canton, Ohio.

The Pioneers are 3-4 in conference play and 5-9 overall, and sit fifth in the GLIAC South Division.

Malone is coming off a 3-0 non-conference loss to Wheeling Jesuit University at home Saturday, Sept. 27 and a 3-0 loss to Cedarville at home Monday, Sept. 29.

Senior defensive specialist Katie Hasebein is second in the GLIAC in digs with 240, and is fourth in average digs per game with 4.9. The Pioneers are 3-2 at home this season.

Yoder said he expects Malone to match the Wildcats’ intensity.

“Malone’s a mid-level team that plays the top teams tough every time,” Yoder said. “They get up and motivated to play what they perceive are the top teams, so it’s going to be a battle.

“Malone’s a tough play to play at to begin with, and the 12-hour bus ride to get down there is probably going to have an impact on us, but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t.”

NMU will conclude their road trip at Walsh University to face off against the Cavaliers, Saturday, Oct. 4 in Canton, Ohio. Walsh is 0-7 in the GLIAC and 0-11 overall, and they are the only winless team in the GLIAC. This will be NMU’s first trip to Walsh since they fell to the Cavaliers 3-2 on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 in their first ever meeting.

Yoder said despite their winless record, Walsh isn’t a team to take for granted.

“We can’t ever overlook an opponent like Walsh, especially when the game is at Walsh,” Yoder said. “We learned our lesson there when we lost last time. It wasn’t that we underestimated them as much as we didn’t expect them to come out on fire and compete so well with us. This time we won’t be taken back by their record, so it will definitely be a good match.”

Sophomore defensive specialist Kaitlin Bronikowski is sixth in the league in digs per set averaging 4.89.

Sophomore defensive specialist Meghan Supple said the ’Cats are still finding room for adjustments each week.

“We need to keep working on the little things and the basics,” Supple said. “From basic serving, keeping the scramble points in play to keeping the ball in play, all of it centers around us staying focused.

“We’re a pretty young team, not all of us are use to practicing five days a week with three big games, than turning around and traveling 12 hours on the weekend. It’s something we’re doing a great job with so far, and it’s only going to improve from here.”