It was almost a perfect weekend for the Northern Michigan Volleyball team as they wrapped up their preseason sweeping three of their four opponents in Houghton at the Keweenaw Classic.
“The teams we played this weekend, I’d argue that two of them were good opponents, St. Cloud and Duluth. St. Cloud, who we swept, had gone five with Tech the night before, so to get a sweep over them was important,” head coach Mike Lozier said. “To be able to learn how to beat teams we are clearly better than in three and not let them hang around was important.”
Lozier said that while being swept by the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs was unfortunate, it gave his players the opportunity to compete against a high-performing program, also adding that the second set of that match was close and could have easily been won by Northern Michigan.
The Wildcats shot right out of the gate for their first match of the weekend, dominating the University of Mary Marauders by over 10 points in the first two sets and edging them 25-23 in their final bought.
Despite the momentum of coming off a 3-0 victory, the Lady’s were toppled in second match of the day by the NCAA Division II’s seventh ranked team, the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs swept all four of their opponents at the Keweenaw Classic, including Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech, claiming the tournament tile and extending their overall record to 7-1.
The ’Cats clutched to their foe but were never able to upset the Bulldogs who wrestled away the victory 25-22, 25-22 and 25-17.
Down but not out, the Northern squad showed their resilience in day two and bounced back to sweep both the St. Cloud State Huskies and the Bemidji State Beavers.
On top of the team closing out the weekend 3-1, senior captain Madison Whitehead was recognized as GLIAC North Player of the Week and earned All-Tournament Team over the weekend along with fellow senior captain Kayla Chosa.
Whitehead achieved double-digit kills each match, with a high of 12 against St. Cloud State College. The senior has the program’s 12th highest career kills accumulating 1,079 so far.
Chosa finished the weekend with 35 total kills and a
team-high 20 blocks, including five solo blocks.
“I would definitely say that everybody so far has just been putting in such hard work and we’ve definitely been working on our team culture a ton,” senior captain Jami Hogeboom said. “I just think with the two weekends we’ve already played we’re definitely more than ready to go into conference play.”
The Wildcats will return to action this weekend as they open GLIAC action with their first home matches. Friday they face off against the 1-7 Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals then the next day against the 1-5 Lake Superior State University Lakers.
“Traitionally and historically [Saginaw] has been a good program so you’ve got to expect that they’ve been working to get better and better,” Lozier said. “ The team we so on film is not going to be the team we saw. They’re probably going to be a little bit better.”
Lozier said he’d argue the 2017 edition of Wildcat Volleyball is one of most physically dominating team in the conference and expects the ladies to provide little breathing room
for their opponents.