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Wildcats volleyball grounds Cardinals In 5-set thriller

NMU knocks off conference foe in thrilling 5-setter.
 (NMU Graphic)
(NMU Graphic) (WLUC)
Published: Oct. 2, 2021 at 12:26 AM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Northern Michigan University volleyball team defeated Saginaw Valley State University, 3-2, Friday evening in thrilling fashion.

The Wildcats dropped the first set, 25-18, but fought back hard in the second to knot things up following a 25-20 set two victory. A similar story ensued with the following two sets, as NMU lost the third but rallied in the fourth set to force a deciding fifth set. They carried that momentum into the fifth set where they took a 15-11 victory to clinch the match.

SET ONE

The Wildcats opened the night with two straight kills by Jacqueline Smith before the Cardinals got on the board. The two teams battled throughout the early portion of the set, as they sat tied at seven different points before either team hit 15 points.

NMU would go on to record three-straight points to make it 16-13, but the Cardinals found a way to answer and the Wildcats would drop set one, 25-18.

SET TWO

Much like the latter half of the first set was for SVSU, the start of the second set heavily favored the Wildcats. They jumped out to a 12-6 lead, and despite the Cardinals fighting back and eventually tying it up at 19-all, NMU held their ground in set two to take the convincing 25-20 win.

SET THREE

The Wildcats opened the third set down 5-0 but fought their way back into contention with kills from Ania Hyatt, Angelina Negron and Lizzy Stark to make it a 9-6 score.

Despite their best efforts, the Wildcats dropped the third set and found themselves facing a tough 2-1 deficit after three sets.

SET FOUR

Never the team to shy away from adversity, the Wildcats came out strong in the fourth set and connected with one another to get that necessary set win, 25-19.

The Wildcats went on a 6-1 run to start the fourth set, heavily swinging momentum in their favor as they fed off the crowd and propelled themselves to the victory.

SVSU eventually came within one of the Wildcat women at 11-10, but the green and gold donned team forged ahead with a 9-2 run to nearly solidify the set final.

The Cardinals did pressure the Wildcats late in the set but NMU held strong to come out victorious with the 25-19 win and force a fifth set.

SET FIVE

The first 12 points were a back-and-forth battle between the two teams, with neither able to break away from the other to give themselves the advantage.

The Wildcats eventually broke the scoring ties with a six-point run with Caylie Barlage on serve which included a series of aces and a kill from Barlage herself.

The Cardinals answered with a short point-streak of their own with the Wildcats at match point but NMU rallied as Ania Hyatt found the open court for the final kill of the night to give her team the 15-11 set score and 3-2 match win.

With the win, the Wildcats improve to 5-9 on the season and 2-4 in conference play.

STAT LEADERS

In total, the Wildcats posted 53 kills in the evening contest, led by a pair of sophomores in Ania Hyatt and Jacqueline Smith with 14 a piece. Lizzy Stark sat one shy of the team lead, with 13 kills of her own.

Sophomore Meghan Meyer led the team in solo blocks with two while Angelina Negron had two blocks of her own with a solo and assisted stop.

Caylie Barlage added to her impressive rookie stats with three service aces on the night, including two in that late run of the fifth set to help boost her team to victory. The libero for the Wildcats also registered 11 digs Friday as well as two kills on as many attempts.

UP NEXT

The women return to the court Saturday at 2 p.m. when they host Wayne State University to conclude their homecoming weekend festivities.

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