Volleyball team starts conference play

Julie Goldberg

Conference play starts this week for the Northern Michigan University volleyball team.

re-volleyball-3-etThe Wildcats travel to Saginaw Valley State on Friday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. to face the Cardinals.

“Our mindset is to go one team at a time,” senior middle hitter Bridget Bussell said. “Our biggest thing is one point at a time when we’re in the game, so I think we can carry that over into our play as well.” Saginaw Valley State is 4-4 this season. They are averaging 12.34 kills per set, 11.45 assists per set and 17.66 digs per set.

“They’re picked ahead of us in our conference,” head coach Dominic Yoder said. “They have a good returning team and they always give us fits when we go there. We’re expecting a long, drawn out battle against them.”

Last season, Northern Michigan traveled to Saginaw Valley State and lost 3-1.

Leading the Wildcats in that matchup was sophomore left side hitter Maggie Liebeck, who had 14 kills and a .323 hitting percentage. Junior setter Jami Hogeboom recorded 44 assists.
In that matchup, the Cardinals had senior middle hitter Kaylee Schmidt leading them with 15 kills and five blocks.
Northern Michigan and Saginaw Valley State have played each other 64 times, with the ’Cats leading the all-time series 54-10.

“We’re trying to improve,” Yoder said. “We picked three things that we want to improve on this week and we’re really going to nail it down and get better at those three things this week.” Next, the Wildcats continue conference play with a visit to Lake Superior State University on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 3 p.m.

“We want to go out and start conference play strong,” junior middle hitter Madison Whitehead said.

The Lakers are 1-7 this season. They are averaging 8.40 kills per set, 7.88 assists per set, and 10.44 digs per set. The Wildcats and Lakers played each other three times last season with the ’Cats winning all three matchups. NMU  won all nine sets that the teams played in those matchups.

Leading the Wildcats in those matchups was Whitehead, who had a total of 29 kills in those matches. Sophomore middle hitter Autumn Monsma had a total of 36 assists in those matches.

Sophomore outside hitter Morgan Kelley leads the Lakers with 27 assists and 105 total assists this season while junior libero Justice Kjolhede leads the team with 53 digs.

The Wildcats traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin last weekend and competed in the UW-Parkside Tournament where the team went 2-2.

“All the teams we played this past weekend were within the top 30, top 40 in the nation so it was good competition,” Yoder said. “I thought it was a good test for our team.”

To begin the tournament on Friday, Sept. 9, the Wildcats played St. Cloud State and won in five sets.

“Last year we had trouble finishing five set matches and when we played St. Cloud State, we were able to win a five set match,” Whitehead said.

Senior middle hitter Bridget Bussell and Whitehead each had 11 kills while senior defensive specialist Megan Dahl had 14 digs. Next, the Wildcats lost to Minnesota-Duluth in three sets with scores of 25-13, 27-25, and 25-23.

The teams were tied 15 times in the second set and tied 4 times in the third set. Whitehead had 11 kills while Bussell had 9. Hogeboom had 23 assists and Dahl had 15 digs. To start the second day of the tournament on Saturday, Sept. 10, the Wildcats faced Upper Iowa University and lost in five sets.

Whitehead led the team with 18 kills while Hogeboom had 60 assists. Dahl added 28 digs. Northern Michigan next faced Minnesota State Moorhead on Saturday to finish the tournament and won in three sets.

Junior middle hitter Kayla Chosa led the ’Cats with 11 kills while Dahl had 16 digs to lead the team.

“I’m super excited for our team this year,” Bussell said. “We are very competitive and we really have a lot of heart and passion for the game, so it’s going to be a good year.”

The Wildcats are 5-4 this season. Yoder is now at 179 wins as the Wildcat head coach, only 15 more wins behind the school record of 194.