Volleyball hits road for Big Rapids

Volleyball hits road for Big Rapids

Trevor Drew

The Wildcat Volleyball squad returned to the court last Sunday for a pre-season scrimmage and now look for success at the Ferris State Invitational, their first road trip with new head coach Mike Lozier.

Northern Michigan fans gathered at Vandament Arena over the weekend to get their first glimpse of the 2017 edition of the NMU Volleyball team who demonstrated their ability with a scrimmage. The scrimmage not only entertained fans but it also gave players and the coaches insight in the areas they need to develop.

“The scrimmage really showed what we need to work on but it also showed how competitive we are going to be this season and that, compared to last season, we are definitely in a better place,” senior captain Madison Whitehead said.

Whitehead is serving her third year as captain. Last year, she led the team in kills (383), kills per set (3.14) and hitting percentage (.333). The senior was the only Wildcat to surpass 300 kills and average at least three per set.

Last season the Wildcats closed out the campaign with a 4-game win streak with a conference record of 8-9, slating them sixth out of the GLIAC North Division sixth.

Joining Whitehead as captains are fellow seniors Kayla Chosa and Jami Hogeboom.  Last season, Chosa led the team in total blocks (110), solo blocks (22) and block assists (88) while Hogeboom led the team with 1,242 assists and also ranked fourth in digs (223) and total blocks (46).

Going into the season, Lozier said he expected the team’s offense to be their highlight feature while service receiving would have to be developed and that is exactly what he saw during the scrimmage, he added.

“One thing that they have that you could almost call an intangible is their desire to  play every point to the finish—you don’t always see that,” Lozier said. “[When they play] you see bodies on the floor every play, making sure they’re doing everything to prevent that ball from touching the ground.”

Lozier was announced as head coach back in March replacing Rashinda Reed, who stepped down as head coach after accepting an assistant coaching position at the
University of Illinois.

At the time, the new coach said he wasn’t sure what to expect but is now enjoying his new position, describing the experience so far as “fantastic.”

Lozier added that the team has adapted well to his style of coaching and looks forward to his future with the Wildcats.

“Some [coaches] like to really be involved in everything, I prefer to empower the athletes to take control on the floor,” Lozier said. “Obviously we are going to prepare them during the week for the opponent and things they need to be looking for, and during a match if there is clearly things that need to be changed, I’ll change them but otherwise I want to step back.”

The volleyball squad hits the road Thursday in route to Big Rapids where they will participate in the Ferris State Invitational. The Wildcats will play four matches total, two on both Friday and Saturday, kicking off the weekend against the Northwest Missouri University Bearcats

The Bearcats won their first 15 matches last season and vaulted into the NCAA Division II top 25 for the first time making them a formidable foe but the matchup will be a good indicator of where the Wildcats stand against their opponents, Lozier said.

The weekend after, the team will wrap up the pre-season in Houghton where they will participate in the Michigan Tech Invitational. The ’Cats kick usher in conference play with a home-opener against the Saginaw Valley State
University Cardinals.