NMU Volleyball Preview

Courtesy of NMU Athletics

MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan volleyball team enters its 39th season of competition in 2012 and looks to keep its winning tradition alive. On Tuesday (Aug. 28) the Wildcats host the annual Green and Gold intrasquad match at 7 p.m. with free admission at Vandament Arena.

Coach Dominic Yoder begins his sixth season with the Wildcats and has a 63.4 percent winning percentage (96-57) along with a 46-10 record at home.

The ‘Cats finished 2011 with their ninth straight winning season at 15-14 and 12-7 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for third in the North Division and fifth overall.

Five letterwinners return for coach Yoder, including three starters. Leading the way for the ‘Cats is junior, left-side hitter Lina Lopes. The 5-10 Brazilian native was third on the team in 2011 with 240 kills, second in digs (220) and led NMU with 39 service aces. Lopes was a GLIAC honorable mention selection after being the league’s freshman of the year in 2010.

Joining Lopes is left-side and middle hitter, junior Kalli Herron who recorded 159 kills and a 21.1 attack percentage last season as a starter. Senior middle hitter Jasmine Calhoun will return for her final season after being a force at the net with 23 blocks a year ago. Senior Andree Ring and junior Sarah Hamilton add experience to the front line.

Senior libero Kalin Zimmerman led the team in digs (390) in 2011. Junior Katie Dzedzie and sophomores Suzanne Solin and Elizabeth Zanone also bring experience to the defensive end. Sophomore Kaitlyn Hoffman appeared last year as a setter.

Senior right-side hitter Bailey Franklin returns to volleyball after participating in track and field during the last four years. The three-time track and field All-American began her Northern career on the volleyball team in 2008.

Seven newcomers join the team, including setter Kellisha Harley and left-side hitter Cayla Vimr who come to Marquette with two years of junior college experience at Iowa Lakes Community College. The five freshmen include libero/defensive specialist Alex Berger, setter Miranda Hilgers, middle hitters Bria Mays and Alexis Nelson and left-side hitter Lisa Studnicka.

Yoder hired Inga Kurgonaite as his assistant coach in the offseason. Kurgonaite brings Division I coaching experience (Kent State University, Bucknell University) and will focus on improving defense at the net.

The 2012 schedule consists of 31 matches, including 10 at home and three tournaments. The ‘Cats travel to the Ferris State Tournament (Aug. 31-Sept.1), the Missouri S&T Classic (Sept. 7-8) and the annual GLVC/GLIAC Crossover (Oct. 12-13) in Aurora, Ill. Other non-conference opponents include Minnesota Duluth (Sept. 4) and Finlandia (Oct. 9).

Michigan Tech, Wayne State, Findlay, Ohio Dominican, Tiffin, Hillsdale, Northwood, Saginaw Valley State and Lake Superior State make appearances at Vandament Arena in 2012.