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Monday February 26, 2024

Story and photo courtesy of NMU Sports Information

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. - 
The Northern Michigan University volleyball team saw their GLIAC tournament come to an end with a heartbreaking five set loss to Grand Valley State in the semifinal round.

The match started with back and forth action as the teams traded points, highlighted by some great defensive digs and a textbook kill from Jacqueline Smith, that saw the 'Cats take a 9-5 lead. It wasn't long until the 'Cats offense surged out to a 14-6 lead, then late down the line a terrific diving effort followed by an excellent kill from Jacqueline Smith saw the 'Cats reach the 20 point mark first, taking a 20-13 lead. This proved too much to overcome for the Lakers, and the 'Cats took set one 25-17.

The WIldcats started set two how they ended set one, and found themselves with a 6-2 lead out of the gate.The Lakers showed some fight, as they came back to tie the set at eight a piece. Back and forth action saw the game tied until a three-point run from the Lakers gave them a 17-14 lead. The'Cats clawed back, highlighted by back-to-back kills by Jacqueline Smith, and the game was tied at 18 a piece. After being down 23-30, the Wildcats fought back with three straight points to get the game back to even, capped off with a kill from Lizzy Stark. Grand Valley responded with two points of their own, and won 25-23 to take set two.

The 'Cats jumped out to a 2-0 lead to start the third frame, Rayne Thompson's back to back kills made it 4-2, and some back and forth action found the score at 7-7 thanks to three straight Jacqueline Smith kills. A small run saw Ania Hyatt make it 10-8 before an attack error by GVSU made it 11-8 NMU. Lauren Van Remortel continued her dominance on the offense as she set up kills from Lizzy Stark and Rayne Thompson, and the 'Cats saw their lead increase to 15-12. GVSU climbed back to a 20-19 lead that proved too much to overcome and the 'Cas dropped set three 25-22.

Set four started out with the teams trading points to a 7-7 score with kills from Jacqueline Smith, Rayne Thompson, and Lizzy Stark. An Ania Hyatt block extended the 'Cats lead to 12-10 before the Lakers climbed back to tie the score at 14 a piece. The next four points went to Grand Valley, which made the score 18-14, before Jacqueline Smith respondes with a point of her own, and the game was 19-17 GVSU. The 'Cats had their back against the wall, as GVSU had a 24-21 lead before NMU surged back to \score the next five points, capped off by a Lizzy Stark block that secured an NMU set four win by a score of 26-24.

The race to 15 began with the two oponents trading points to five a piece before GVSU scored three straight to make it 8-5. A Madeline Crowley ace and a Jacqueline Smith kill brought the 'Cats back to down one, score 9-8 Grand Valley. An Ania Hyatt block followed by two Rayne Thompson blocks gave the 'Cats the lead by a score of 13-12. The 'Cats had a 14-13 lead but couldn't capitalize as they fellin the fifth set 16-14.

Jacqueline Smith led the 'Cats with 25 kills, followed by Rayne Thompson (20) and Lizzy Stark (10).

Lauren Van Remortel set up almost every point for the 'Cats with 53 assists.

Alli Yacko led the team in digs with 18, followed by Jacqueline Smith (15), Caylie Barlage (11) and Madeline Crowley (10).

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