Wildcats top rival Huskies in four sets

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan volleyball (5-5, 5-0 GLIAC) played in tight sets all night long but were able to come out on top in a 3-1 victory by scores of 25-20, 25-23, 24-26 and 25-21 over rival Michigan Tech University. The victory gave head coach Dominic Yoder his 94th career GLIAC win setting a new NMU record for conference wins by a coach.

The teams came out competitive in the opening set as many expected. NMU found themselves holding a slim 9-8 lead to start the set before going on a 8-4 run to build a comfortable 17-12 lead. Michigan Tech had an answer with a 6-3 run that cut the Wildcat lead down to 19-17, but NMU was able to keep their composure and end the set on a 6-3 run to set the final at 25-20.

The second set would start out similarly as the teams went back and forth to a 13-13 tie. Michigan Tech would draw the first sizeable lead from there going on a 5-1 streak that put the Huskies up 18-14. The Wildcats answered right back, however as they quickly tied the game back up at 18-18 with a 4-0 run drawing a Michigan Tech timeout. Following the timeout both sides went back and forth once again to a 21-21 stale mate. From there the Wildcats were able to end the set strong once again as they finished out the set on a 4-2 run ending the set at 25-23.

The beginning of the third set would be no different than the first two sets as the teams went back and forth, with Michigan Tech holding the slim 16-15 lead. NMU rattled off a quick 6-0 run to take a 21-16 advantage. The Wildcats did a great job of spreading the ball around as three different Wildcats earned kills during the run. Michigan Tech wouldn’t go down without a fight, however, as this time it was the Huskies turn to finish out the set strong. Michigan Tech jumped out to a 7-2 run to tie the set at 23-23. A Huskie service error opened the door for NMU to close out the set, but Michigan Tech held strong and finished out the set on a 3-0 giving set three a final of 26-24.

Michigan Tech rode the momentum of the comeback win in the third set to jump out to an 11-4 lead. NMU came alive shortly after and went on a 5-0 run to put the score at 11-9 and draw a Michigan Tech timeout. The timeout wouldn’t do much as the Wildcats kept on rolling and scored 14 of the next 21 points to bring the set to an 18-18 tie. NMU continued to use that momentum the rest of the set as they finished strong courtesy of a 7-3 run to end the set at 25-21.

Northern Michigan used their strength at the net again as they blocked 10 Huskie attacks as a team. Sophomore middle hitter Bridget Bussell and freshman middle hitter Madison Whitehead each had four block assists to lead the team.

Whitehead would also set a career high in kills by leading the Wildcats with 17. Junior outside hitter Lisa Studnicka and sophomore middle hitter Anna Aycock followed Whitehead with 15 and 13, respectively.

Studnicka also provided solid defense as her and junior libero Alex Berger led the team with 20 digs. Sophomore defensive specialist Meghan Supple also provided a solid night in the back row with 16 digs.

“It is a great honor to be in this position but I have had a lot of great players which has allowed us to win a lot of matches,” commented Yoder on the win and setting the new NMU conference wins record. “I am pretty thankful for our competitiveness in the GLIAC and especially for having Vandament Arena in which we are tough to play in. All those things combined really allowed us to be able to accomplish that so it is really a team item and I really wish it would go to the team, because they really earned it tonight.”

NMU continues their homestand this weekend when they will face off against Hillsdale Friday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. and Findlay Saturday, Sept. 27 at 3:30 p.m.

(Information Courtesy of NMU Athletics)