MARQUETTE -- It's a big year for the Northern Michigan University volleyball team. It was just a few years ago that the team reached the NCAA tournament. After finishing 20-12 last season, the ladies were eager to start their first official practice this fall.
Inside the Vandament Arena at NMU, the Wildcats had a split squad practice in the morning and in the afternoon session worked on team defensive drills.
This year, expectations are high. The Wildcats return five seniors to their starting lineup in setter Kellisha Harley, left side hitter Kalli Herron, Suzzane Solin, Sarah Hamilton and Lina Lopes.
All five seniors played at least 28 out of the 32 games last season and have been called upon by head coach Dominic Yoder to help mentor the younger players. After the day's first practice, he likes what he's seen so far.
"The biggest thing is that we're really looking to try to gain team chemistry, team atmosphere," said Yoder. "[We're] obviously teaching some of the freshmen technical things for them to be successful, and, also, working on our team system [will get us ready for the season]."
"I think we'll do great this season," said Harley. "Just starting out, it looks pretty good. We have a lot of good incoming players and a lot of good returners. We're expecting great things."
"All of our seniors are going to be competing hard for starting positions, and it should be a really great year to have for us upperclassmen," said Herron.
The Wildcats will hold their green and gold scrimmage Aug. 27 before heading over to Pensacola, Fla. for the University of West Florida Invite in September.