’Cats host rivals in spring finale

Ray Bressette

The NMU Wildcat volleyball team will conclude their 2015 spring season this weekend when they host rivals Michigan Tech and Lake Superior State University Saturday, April 11 at Vandament Arena. NMU head coach Dominic Yoder said this annual meet is a great opportunity for the volleyball community.

The NMU volleyball team will wrap up their four-weekend spring schedule this weekend when the ’Cats will host an NMU alumni team, Michigan Tech and LSSU beginning at 12 p.m. Saturday, April 11 in Vandament Arena. (Anthony Viola/NW)
The NMU volleyball team will wrap up their four-weekend spring schedule this weekend when the ’Cats will host an NMU alumni team, Michigan Tech and LSSU beginning at 12 p.m. Saturday, April 11 in Vandament Arena. (Anthony Viola/NW)

“It’s a tradition we’ve had going for a while now where we have our alumni come in and the other two U.P. teams,” Yoder said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to play in front of our fans. It’s been four months since we last played in front of them, so for the fans to be able to come out and see the improvement of our young team over the last three months is a great opportunity.”

Freshman setter Meghan Seymour said the ’Cats look forward to their spring closure.

“This is the end of our spring season, so we’re looking forward to putting everything we’ve learned this spring together,” Seymour said. “We just want to go out there and compete while having a good time. It’s important we end the spring on a good note.”

An NMU alumni squad will also compete Saturday afternoon at Vandament Arena, as the gym will have two courts playing at once. This will wrap up the ’Cats four-weekend spring play, which has featured trips to Grand Valley State University, Michigan Tech and Eastern Michigan. Saturday will be the ’Cats’ sole home meet of the spring. Saturday’s meet will begin at 12 p.m., when NMU squares off against the NMU alumni team. At 1:30 p.m., the Wildcats will battle Michigan Tech, while the NMU alumni team will play LSSU. At 3 p.m., the ’Cats will conclude the afternoon against LSSU, while the alumni squad will play Michigan Tech.

The alumni will be made up of 10 former Wildcats, which include Amy Anderson-Goldsworth (2009), Jillian Baclicki McNulty (2002), Katie (Twardzik) Bonacorsi (2010), Katt Garvick (2009), Sarah Hamilton (2013), Kellisha Harley (2013), Kalli Herron (2013), Mandie Meyer (2009), Suzy Solin (2013) and Cyndi Wiggins (1984).

Despite scores not being kept in spring matches, the ’Cats lost their match with the Michigan Tech Huskies Saturday, March 21 in Houghton, Mich.

“I think it wasn’t necessarily fundamental skills or ability, but more our emotions that made us struggle,” Yoder said. “We traveled up to Houghton that day, and I think our emotion wasn’t prepared to play, but I think this weekend will be a little different story. We’re going to be ready to play, and it’s going to be a fun and competitive environment.”

This past season, the Wildcats swept both Tech and LSSU, taking both matches in each series.

Michigan Tech finished the 2014 regular season 11-16 overall, 8-10 in GLIAC, finishing 10th out of 16 teams in the conference, falling two games out of the GLIAC tournament.

LSSU concluded the season 2-24 overall, 1-17 in conference play, landing 15th in the standings. The Wildcats have not had any seniors on their squad this year, but were able to put together a 14-14 overall record and 14-4 in GLIAC play, finishing fourth in the conference before getting bounced by the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals in the opening round of the GLIAC tournament.

NMU athletic director Forrest Karr said he was impressed with the 2014 season the ’Cats put together.

“I think the volleyball team probably exceeded most people’s expectations last year,” Karr said. “It was exciting to see them play, especially once the conference season started. They did a good job putting themselves in a good position by the end, and had one or two things gone differently, they might have qualified for the NCAA tournament. We’re excited about the young players and seeing what they can achieve in the future.”

Two ’Cats finished the 2014 season with All-GLIAC honors, as junior libero and defensive specialist Alex Berger was named to the ALL-GLIAC First Team, while left-setter Lisa Studnicka was named to the All-GLIAC Second Team. Berger led the Wildcats in digs last season with 5.02 per set, the fourth most in the GLIAC. Studnicka was NMU’s leading scorer averaging 3.6 points per set, fifth most in the GLIAC, while finishing with the ’Cats’ second most digs, averaging 3.01 per set.

Freshman setter Meghan Seymour said the ’Cats look forward to their spring closure.

“This is the end of our spring season, so we’re looking forward to putting everything we’ve learned this spring together,” Seymour said. “We just want to go out there and compete while having a good time. It’s important we end the spring on a good note.”