MARQUETTE - Having spent nearly a month on the road to open its season, the Northern Michigan University volleyball team entered its first week back in Marquette with a lone blemish on its GLIAC record and the motivation to remain near the top of the North Division standings.
But after a three-set sweep of Michigan Tech on Tuesday, the Wildcats couldn't manage a win over Wayne State at Vandament Arena on Friday, losing in four sets 25-18, 25-16, 19-25, 25-14.
Wayne State remains undefeated in the conference, and 11-3 overall. Northern isn't far behind with two losses in the GLIAC (4-2) and an 11-4 overall record.
"We just didn't show up. We didn't play hard," NMU head coach Dominic Yoder said. "But that's something that we can remedy. We came out in set three, we came out hard and really played motivated.
"We've seen some pretty good teams, so you've got to tip your hat to (Wayne State). They played extremely hard and they did what they do."
Lina Lopes notched 15 kills in the loss, while Alex Berger racked up 10 digs. Sarah Hamilton also contributed well with 12 kills. Kellisha Harley added 42 assists.
"I would say we just weren't consistent," Harley said. "We're on and off and we gave up too many runs at a time. We need to learn how to side out better."
Harley thought the loss was uncharacteristic of the Wildcats, saying that the team had felt good all week, but experienced a bit of a funk on Friday.
"It felt different from how we've played in the past," she said. "Last weekend we did really well ands there was just a different feel, so I don't know what changed but something was definitely off."
The Wildcat's home win against Michigan Tech earlier this week was also accompanied, according to Yoder, by a more competitive atmosphere at practice. Though it didn't translate well into Friday's game, he's expecting that today's 4 p.m. game against Findlay at Vandament Arena will be much more focused for Northern.
"We were not focused, but we'll get them focused for tomorrow," Yoder said. "Tuesday's match went really well and practice was good. We had competitive moments this week as practice. We were prepared and ready to go, and we knew what to expect from Wayne State. We just didn't really match their intensity.
"It is what it is. We're at home and (today's) another opportunity for us to come out and really play hard. I'm expecting them to be a little upset about (Friday's) performance and really come out and have some motivation."
Amanda Monthei can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org