Northern Michigan University (0-1, 0-0 GLIAC) opened up regular season action at home against #3 University of Minnesota-Duluth losing in straight sets; 25-16, 25-12, 25-15, at the Vandament Arena Thursday.
The Wildcats struggled to get side outs in all three sets, which helped allow the Bulldogs go on long point streaks on their way to the sweep. NMU hung strong at the beginning of the first set as the two teams jostled to an 8-7 score with the Bulldogs holding a slight advantage. UMD then went on a 9-2 run extending their lead to 17-9. From there the Bulldogs would cruise to a 25-16 set win.
The Wildcats came out in the second set slow as they spotted UMD a quick six points. The Bulldogs would extend their lead out to 13-3. NMU couldn't find an answer for the strong front row of UMD that blocked six Wildcat attacks over the set. The Bulldogs eventually took the set 25-12.
Northern Michigan showed some fight in the third set as they were able to hold serve to an 11-10 UMD lead. From there, however, NMU struggled to break the serve of Bulldogs' Ashley Hinsch and Kelly Madison as the Bulldogs went on a 10-1 run to extend their lead to as large as 21-12. The Wildcats were unable to come back from the deficit dropping the final set 25-15.
Sophomore Alex Larsen and freshman Madison Whitehead led the NMU attack with five kills, while junior Stacy Kalsbeek was able to assist in 20 kills in her Wildcat debut. In the back row, libero junior Alex Berger had a team high 12 digs on the night.
Head Coach Dominic Yoder said after the match, "We really came into this match with no fear, they were expected to win being the No. 3 team in the nation. Athletically, we played great with them it just came down to execution. The unforced errors on our side versus their side of the net. I thought it was a great learning experience for our young players. It really doesn't get much better than what we saw tonight and we can play at that level.
Northern Michigan will head to the Keweenaw Classic in Houghton, Mich. this weekend where they will open up against Upper Iowa tomorrow, Friday, September 5th, at 3:30 p.m. The Wildcats will then play two matches on Saturday, September 6th. The first match pits NMU against Bemidji St. at 1 p.m. with a match up with Winona State to follow at 5 p.m.