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Monday February 26, 2024
Northern Michigan Volleyball Wins Playoff Opener

This story was written by NMU Sports Informatiun. Click the AUDIO button to hear post-game comments from NMU Volleyball Coach Mike Lozier.

The Northern Michigan University volleyball team started off their GLIAC Tournament run with a win over the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals. An intense four sets made for an electric Vandament Arena. 

The two teams opened up play with some fairly equal point exchanges. Lizzy Stark threw down the first highlight worthy kill, giving the 'Cats a lead early in the game, 6-3. Caylie Barlage was next up to serve, Barlage placed a sneaky one just over the top of the net, the Cardinals did not know what to do with it. 

The calm and confident demeanor of the Wildcats could be seen through the whole arena, the team continued to plow their way to success. Early in the game, Wildcat magic duo Lauren Van Remortel and Jacqueline Smith dominated the court, Smith just kept smashing them down until the score hit 14-9 for the 'Cats. 

Saginaw wasn't prepared to let the Wildcats control the set, the Cardinal front row was able to secure a few extra points off of well placed kills. 

Ania Hyatt stepped up to the net, ready for a short set that the Cardinals would not expect, then executed perfectly, allowing the Wildcats to hit the 20 point mark. The 'Cats were on a come-up and the Cardinals were nervous, taking a timeout late in the first set. 

Set point was laid out for Ania Hyatt to serve a smooth one into Cardinal court, Saginaw was unable to recover, final set score 25-17.  

The Cardinals came into the second set prepared to take the lead, but the 'Cats did not let up as the two teams continued to exchange points until the Cardinals took a lead at 4-3. 

Rayne Thompson stepped up to the net to help her team come back, hammering one down onto wide open Saginaw court. But still no letup from the Cardinals. 

NMU called a timeout once the score hit 11-6 Cardinals, hoping for an extra bit of motivation. The energy level in the Vandament took a turn for the better as the two teams rallied intensively. Lizzy Stark was able to hit back-to-back kills that were so pure and strong, one could hear them hitting the floor all the way from the halls. 

There was absolutely no stopping Lizzy Stark at the net, as she closed the point gap to 18-13. The exchanges continued as the Wildcats tried to come back into the set. It was a nail bitter till the set point, but the Cardinals took the win 25-19. 

The third set started off similar to the last two, both teams diving and serving up some mean ones till the 6-6 mark. Although the Cardinals were coming off a win, the Wildcat skill level is undeniable. 

Following the back-and-forth plays, the 'Cats went on a run of absolutely superior volleyball. The Wildcat commentator began to sound like a broken record after repeating "KILL" by Olivia Webber and Jacqueline Smith, over and over again. 14-10 for the 'Cats. 

The Wildcats continued to run fake-out plays, where Lauren Van Remortel would look to set to the middle, but send it long to the left side hitter, making it nearly impossible for the Cardinals to anticipate the play. 

Saginaw was able to make a comeback and the score squared up at 20-20, the NMU student section was electric as the final plays went on. A service ace by Jacqueline Smith put the Wildcats up by two, giving them a further serving advantage. 

Lizzy Stark then stepped up like it was her day job and pounded one into Cardinal court. The Wildcats won set three 25-22. 

Once again, the fourth set opened up with some high intensity back-and-forth plays. Alli Yacko was a vital team member for the 'Cats as she scooped up just about anything, giving Lauren Van Remortel the opportunity to set one up. The teams matched points at 5-5

Olivia Webber tipped a few good ones over the net, helping her team take a comfortable lead. 

Saginaw Valley channeled their defensive skills, rejecting several NMU kills, but expert serving skills by Caylie Barlage kept the Cardinals at bay. The 'Cats held a lead at 17-15

The 'Cats hit the 20 point mark with another photo finish kill by Jacqueline Smith. Northern then capitalized on a couple faults by the Cardinals, point 'Cats! 

The Cardinals double-hit on the match point of play, the Wildcats won an intense match 25-22.

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