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Thursday May 13, 2021
FINISHING ON TOP: Wildcats Beat Tech For Title

This story, photo was written by NMU Sports Information

For the fourth time in school history the Northern Michigan University Volleyball team is Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament Champions. The No. 20 Wildcats earned the 2021 GLIAC title with a 3-0 victory over No. 21 Michigan Technological University in the title match Sunday afternoon. 

The Huskies struck for an early 3-0 lead in the opening moments of championship play. The Wildcats got on the board by two consecutive errors from MTU. 

Both teams exchanged two points bursts following the errors. A Huskies kill gave MTU a 6-4 advantage, but a 7-0 NMU run would give the Wildcats a 10-6 lead. Hailey Wickstrom led the NMU charge in the run with three kills with two assisted by Meghan MeyerJacqueline Smith also added a kill in the run on an assist from Lauren Van Remortel.

Back-and-forth play brought the teams to eight ties later in the opening set. A block from Wickstrom and Meyer gave the Wildcats the lead for good in the frame at 24-23. After a timeout from the Huskies, a MTU attack error ended the set 25-23 in favor of NMU.

Set two saw the Wildcats get on the board first and never trail. The teams did see ties at 3-3, 4-4, and 5-5 but a Van Remortel assisted Ania Hyatt kill ensured the NMU team held an advantage the rest of the way.

The Wildcats eventually built a 12-7 lead after a block from Wickstrom and Meyer. The lead would continue to build after a 4-0 NMU run got the score to 23-13. The run was led by a Wickstrom kill and also included a Madeline Crowley service ace.

Smith closed the 25-16 Wildcat set win off with a kill. The second set was the best for NMU when it came to hitting percentage. The team hit .387 with 15 kills and only three errors in the frame.

The Huskies scored the first three points in set three as the teams traded the lead six times at the beginning of the frame. 

A 5-0 Wildcat run gave NMU a 13-8 lead. Lizzy Stark was the first to score in the run with a kill. She was followed by a Van Remortel kill. The Wildcats also scored with a block in the run (Smith, Hyatt) and a service ace (Lauren Caprini).

MTU fought back and tied the set at 19-19 and then used an NMU error to go up by one. The Wildcats knotted things up again at 20-20 followed by a Caprini service ace to take a one-point lead.

The teams again tied at 22-22, 23-23, and 24-24 in what proved to be thrilling final moments of the 2021 GLIAC Championship.

With the title in sight, NMU went on a 3-0 run to end the match. A Smith kill began the run followed by a Stark kill and a ball-handling error for the Huskies en route to the 26-24 set win that clinched the match. 

Freshman Jacqueline Smith was named the 2021 GLIAC Tournament Most Valuable Player and also to the All-Tournament team. She had a team and match-high 13 kills for the Wildcats.

The Freshman also added seven digs and two block assists. 

Wickstrom and Stark also contributed double-digit kills for NMU. Wickstrom had 12 while Stark added 11. Wickstrom led the Wildcats in hitting percentage with a mark of .409.

Both Crowley and Caprini served their way to two service aces.

Alli Yacko and Stark each had double-digit digs for NMU. Yacko collected 15 and Stark had 10.

Van Remortel was named to the All-Tournament team and had 36 assists and eight digs in the championship match.

The 2021 GLIAC Tournament concludes the season for the Wildcat volleyball team due to the NCAA Division II Presidents Council making the decision to cancel the championship due to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

NMU's final overall record is 15-2 with a 12-2 GLIAC mark. The tournament title is the first for the Wildcats since 2003.

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