‘Cats volleyball wins first GLIAC Tournament title since 2003


TOURNEY CHAMPS—The NMU Volleyball team poses for a celebratory picture after defeating Michigan Tech in straight sets in the GLIAC Tournament title game. The Wildcats picked up their first conference tournament title in 18 years. Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics.

Dallas Wiertella

The NMU Volleyball team took some hardware home to end their season with three wins in three days to capture the GLIAC Tournament title this past weekend.

Wins over Davenport University (3-1), Grand Valley State University (3-1) and Michigan Tech University (3-0) clinched the ‘Cats’ first conference tournament championship since 2003. The Wildcats ended their season with an astounding 15-2 overall record and earned many conference accolades along the way. Along with becoming the GLIAC champions, sophomore setter Lauren Van Remortel and freshman outside hitter Jacqueline Smith made the All-Tournament Team, with Smith also being awarded tournament MVP.

“It was a great experience for it being my first conference tournament. Playing, arguably, the three toughest teams in our conference in three days was definitely intimidating going into the tournament,” Smith said. “Looking back at it our team handled it very well. We stayed composed, relaxed and we were ready to play when we stepped on the court all three games.”

Needless to say, the Wildcats have come out confident and excited to show off their new championship title while also having a fire to keep competing. The team had run down their conference regular season and tournament championships and felt like they were just getting started.

“It actually took a while for the feeling to set in after we won,” junior libero Alli Yacko said. “I think it is because we all know we would have been continuing to the NCAA tournament so it feels unfinished.”

There will be no NCAA tournament due to the pandemic, which unfortunately unfolded in a year where NMU made history. But after seeing how our athletes performed, it’s hard not to think that they would have extended their run even further into nationals.

“We want to play until we either win a national championship or we lose,” Head Coach and 2021 GLIAC Coach of the Year Mike Lozier said. “We knew this was our last game and the finale of it, this was our national championship game.”

The Wildcats showed that they can step up and show their teeth this year and have put themselves into a position to be the team to beat in the future.
“I have every belief in my mind now that we should be doing this year in and year out,” Lozier said. ”Are we always going to get the trophy, are we always going to be the last ones standing? No. But I think we are going to be the team that people are going to be looking at.”

The Cats’ celebrate their victory this week as they already start to think about the short turnaround to next season in the fall. We will see mostly familiar faces returning to the court with recruits ready to fill in the shoes left behind.

“We are only graduating two seniors this year so our team will be fairly familiar next year meaning that we are hoping to hold those conference titles next year as well,” Smith said. “I am hoping that there are fewer restrictions for COVID-19 next year in hopes of having fans at every game.”