Volleyball team takes on three Ohio teams

Julie Goldberg

The Northern Michigan University volleyball team travels to Ohio this week to take on three Ohio universities.

re-volleyball-nmuOn Monday, Sept. 19, junior outside hitter Madison Whitehead was named the GLIAC North Player of the Week for the third time in her Wildcat career.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” head coach Dominic Yoder said. “For two years in a row, Madison has been one of our best players on offense and defense. For our team to get back to that level early this season is a testament to our ability and the team’s potential.”

During the two matches this past weekend, Whitehead averaged 3.5 kills per set, 0.44 hitting percentage, and averaged one block per set.

“The team did really well with our serves this weekend,” Whitehead said. “It really improved a lot, so that helped making me able to get the award.”

On Friday, Sept. 16, the Wildcats started conference play by playing Saginaw Valley State and won in five sets.

“We were on the positive side of a 5-set match,” Yoder said. “We expected a battle when we went there, and that’s exactly what they gave us.”

Whitehead had a team-high 20 kills while senior defensive specialist Megan Dahl had a team-high 25 digs. Senior middle hitter Bridget Bussell had eight blocks for the Wildcats.

“It was important for us to start the season off strong,” Whitehead said. “This win was a big win for us.”

With a team-high 53 assists, junior setter Jami Hogeboom surpassed the 50-assist threshold for the third time this season and seventh time in her career.

“I’m real proud of our players and how we passed serve,” Yoder said. “We really took control of the match and allowed our quick attack to really perform well.”

On Saturday, Sept. 17, the Wildcats played Lake Superior State and won in three sets. Senior left side hitter Marta Fraga Guntin led the ’Cats with nine kills and nine digs. Northern Michigan had a 0.23 hitting percentage and held the Lakers to a 0.08 hitting percentage.

To start the matches in Ohio, the Wildcats take on the Cedarville Yellow Jackets in nonconference play on at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22.

“All three of the teams are going to serve more aggressive so we are working on serve reception this week,” Yoder said. The Yellow Jackets are 8-2 this season and are currently riding an 8-match winning streak.

Northern Michigan and Cedarville played each other last season in the Wildcat Open and the Wildcats won in four sets. Wildcat sophomore left setter Autumn Monsma had 17 kills each set to lead them in the match.

Yellow Jacket senior outside hitter Abby Shelton had 11 kills to lead Cedarville in that matchup while senior libero Angela Becker had 17 digs for the Yellow Jackets.

As a team, the ’Cats had a 0.3 hitting percentage and limited Cedarville to a 0.1 hitting percentage. Next, Northern Michigan travels to Tiffin, Ohio to face the Tiffin Dragons on at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23 to continue GLIAC conference play.

“We are going to work on our quick attack defense to be able to contain them since they run a fast offense,” Yoder said. Tiffin has a record of 6-4 this season with an 0-2 record in GLIAC conference play.

Northern Michigan and Tiffin have played each other nine times all-time, with the Wildcats winning every matchup.

This season, freshman middle hitter Jenna Huffman leads the Dragons in kills with 103 and junior defensive specialist Taylor Lattimore has 147 digs to lead Tiffin.

To finish the matches in Ohio, the Wildcats will face the Ashland Eagles on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. Ashland is 6-5 this season and have an 0-2 record in GLIAC conference play.

The Wildcats and Eagles have played each other 28 times all-time with the series being 18-10 Wildcats.

Senior outside hitter Alli Cudworth leads Ashland with 165 kills this season while senior outside hitter Casey Clark has 130 digs for the Eagles. The Wildcats have a 7-4 record this season with a 2-0 record in the GLIAC conference.

They are currently on a 3-match winning streak.

Northern Michigan is tied with Michigan Tech for first in the GLIAC North Division conference standings. Yoder is now at 181 wins as the Wildcat head coach and needs just 13 to tie the school record of 194.