Champ ‘Cats: No. 19 Volleyball Takes GLIAC Title in Rivalry Match
MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - No. 19 Northern Michigan University volleyball is adding another championship to their list of accomplishments as they earned the 2021 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) regular season title with a 3-2 win over No. 21 Michigan Technological University on Saturday.
The first set had both teams neck and neck in the early going. Seven ties got the set to 8-8, which is when the Wildcats started to take control of the match.
Two Huskies errors put the Wildcats up 10-8. Hailey Wickstrom capped off the 3-0 run with a kill. After the run, NMU never fell behind again in the opening frame.
MTU cut the lead down to five at 18-23, but the Wildcats had the set all but locked up. Wickstrom notched two kills to bring the score to 25-19 and earn the set one win for NMU.
Set two showed very quickly the rival Huskies were not going to go away easily.
MTU started the set with a 6-0 run. The Wildcats took a time out to regroup and it worked as the Huskies committed a service area after the stoppage.
NMU pulled even closer as they were able to put three unanswered points up, when down 10-3. Meghan Meyer had her hands in two of those points as one was a kill from the freshman and the other was a Meyer service ace. The other point in the run was a Hyatt and Lizzy Stark block assist.
After falling behind 23-15 later in the set the Wildcats came charging back again. An MTU service error gave NMU a point before a Jacqueline Smith kill and a Lauren Caprini service ace pulled them within five.
Sadly, MTU withstood the test and evened up the match at 1-1 with a 25-19 set two win.
The beginning of the third set was an inverse of the second. The Wildcats opened the frame up with a 5-0 run featuring two kills from Meyer, two from Smith, and a Wickstrom block.
NMU built on the lead later in the set with a sequence of two consecutive kills and back-to-back blocks that had the socially distanced fans in Vandament Arena on their feet and pushed the lead to 15-8. The kills came courtesy of Smith and Wickstrom while the blocks were dished out by Meyer and Wickstrom.
The Huskies were able to pull within three points late in the set, but ultimately an error by the visiting team secured the 25-21 set win for the Wildcats.
Set four started out even but soon got away from the NMU team.
After the Wildcats went up 3-2, MTU went on a 5-0 run to earn the lead. A lead they would hold onto for the rest of the frame.
Smith was able to stop the Huskies’ run with a kill for NMU and the teams traded six points to move the score to 10-7 in favor of the visiting team.
MTU went on an 18-5 tear for the rest of the set and never looked back. The Huskies forced a fifth set with a 25-11 set four win.
The winner-take-all final set for the title was as electric as expected.
MTU got on the board first with a kill, but that was followed by two kills from the Wildcats courtest of Stark and Meyer.
An NMU service error tied the game at 2-2, which was the last time the Wildcats were not holding the lead.
Back-to-back Smith kills increased the NMU lead to two points. A Huskies kill cut the lead back down to one but a kill from Meyer and a block assist from Wickstrom and Meyer moved it up to three.
The visiting team pulled within one several more times in the frame, with the last coming with the Wildcats up 10-9. MTU’s momentum did not deter or stop NMU who knew a title was waiting on the other side of the victory.
In the end, an unassisted kill from the freshman Smith notched the 15th Wildcat point and clinched the 3-2 match win and the conference title.
Smith led the team in kills with 18. The freshman hit at a .311 clip in the match. Three more NMU Wildcats contributed double-digit kills with Wickstrom (10), Stark (13), and Meyer (10) all coming up big for NMU.
The Wildcat block party was lively today as the team notched 14 total blocks. The four solo blocks were good enough for the second-highest mark from the team all season. Wickstrom led the party with three solo blocks and two assisted. She was followed by Hyatt who had four block assists and Meyer who notched one solo and one assisted block.
The NMU team now sets their eyes on the GLIAC tournament which will begin Friday, April 9 and run through Sunday, April 11 at Saginaw Valley State. The Wildcats will receive a bye as regular season champions.
Copyright 2021 WLUC. All rights reserved.