The Northern Michigan University volleyball team began its final weekend of regular season play on Friday (Nov. 15) with a victory against Saginaw Valley State. The Wildcats defeated the Cardinals, 3-2, in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchup.
SVSU won the first set, 25-15, before NMU came back to win the next two sets (25-16 and 25-18). The Cardinals won set four (25-17) to force the fifth, with NMU winning set five, 17-15.
"The girls played well tonight, but it was the defense that led us," stated head coach Dominic Yoder. "It was a great blocking performance from the entire team."
Set one was controlled by the Cardinals, leading for the majority of it. Going into SVSU's Brooke Tiller's serve, the score was tied at eight. But, after two service aces, and two kills, the Cardinals gained the 13-8 advantage. From there, SVSU led to take the first set.
In the second set, the Wildcats went up with a quick 10-1 lead on freshman Alex Larsen serve. Seniors Lina Lopes, Sarah Hamilton and Kellisha Harley all contributed with kills on the series. Lopes and Hamilton also scored with a block assist. NMU held its lead comfortably to take the set by nine points. The set ended on a block assist by Larsen and sophomore Alexis Nelson.
The Wildcats and Cardinals held close to one other for much of set three. NMU led by just three points (20-17) on sophomore Alex Berger 's serve. Kills by sophomore Lisa Studnicka and Hamilton, along with a block by Lopes gave NMU the 23-17 advantage. The Green and Gold closed out the set on its next serving series with a kill by Lopes.
In the fourth set, SVSU led by a slim two points (10-8). But, on the next serving series by Kelly Vellucci, the Cardinals increased its lead, 14-8. From there, SVSU held the lead, leading by five points or more for the set.
Just as blocking was a pivotal part for NMU in sets two and three, it proved to be same in set five. The Wildcats had six block assists alone in the final set to take the match. With the scored tied at 11 on senior Kalli Herron's serve, a block assist by Larsen and freshman Bridget Bussell, along with a second block assist by Bussell and Lopes gave NMU a 14-11 lead. The Cardinals tried to answer back by tying the game at 15. However, a kill by Lopes, followed by a block assist by Lopes and Hamilton closed out the match.
Lopes ended the night with 22 kills, while Herron added 13 and Larsen had 10. NMU finished with 59 total kills for a .219 attack percentage. Berger led the defense on 19 digs, with Lopes (16) and Studnicka (12) each finishing in the double digits. Harley set up the offense with 49 assists. The Wildcats finished with 20 block assists, Bussell was a part of five of them and Larsen was on four.
For the Cardinals, Ashley Driscoll finished with 16 kills and Kaylee Schmitt added 12. SVSU had 53 total kills for a .188 attack percentage. Tiller had 19 digs and Kate Czopek had 13. Vellucci and Nicole Adam split the setting duties with 26 and 23 assists, respectively.
NMU closes out the regular season on Saturday (Nov. 16) at Lake Superior State at 4 p.m.