MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) – The Northern Michigan University Volleyball team returned to Vandament Arena and Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play by hosting Saginaw Valley State University but fell to the Cardinals 3-2 in a thrilling five-set match.
The Wildcats led 10-5 early in the first set but the guests rebounded to make it 13-13 and eventually led 20-18. This time, NMU bounced back and tied it 22-22. The teams traded points to make it 23-23 but NMU scored back to back points to win the set 25-23.
NMU led early in the second set and pushed their lead to 20-14 before closing out the set by winning 25-19.
In the third set, SVSU pulled out to a 15-10 lead. NMU pulled within 18-16 but the Cardinals rallied to win the set 25-23. The fourth set saw the Wildcats make a comeback in the set, but SVSU held on to win 25-21 and force a fifth set.
The guests scored first in the final set but NMU answered to take a 5-2 advantage and held an 8-5 lead when the teams switched sides. SVSU rallied back and forced a tie at each point until it was 13-13 and then scored two points to win the set 15-13 and took the match 3-2.
The Wildcats featured a balanced offensive attack with senior Autumn Monsma (Grand Haven, Mich.) and junior Sarah Kuehn (Green Bay, Wis./De Pere) leading the way with 16 kills each. Senior Maggie Liebeck (Luxemburg, Wis./Luxemburg-Casco) added 15 kills with senior Jessica Skonning (LaGrange, Ill./Lyons Township) chipping in with 13.
Senior Lynzi Svoboda (Minneapolis, Minn./Minneapolis Southwest) posted the third 50-plus assist match of her career with 52 assists on the night and led the team with two aces. Senior Rachel Braunschweig (Alamo, Calif./San Ramon Valley), junior Gabriela Martinez (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico/Colegio Marista/Rio Piedras), sophomore Cierra Martines (Arvada, Colo./Ralston Valley) and freshman Alli Yacko (Oak Lawn, Ill.) also had an ace to aid the offense.
DIGGING IT OUT
Five players reached double-digit digs for the Wildcats as well, led by Braunschweig's 18. Monsma notched 13 while Yacko and Gabriella Martinez both had 11. Svoboda contributed 10 to the effort.
AT THE NET
Kuehn helped the defense with her best GLIAC conference outing by notching seven blocks, including a season best four solo. Liebeck, Svoboda and Cierra Martinez all finished the night with two blocks.
The Wildcats fall to 14-9 on the season and 3-9 in GLIAC play while SVSU improves to 16-7 and 9-3 in league play. NMU will return to action Saturday for their final home match of the season by hosting Lake Superior State University. The team's seniors will be honored prior to the game.