MARQUETTE - After Friday night's loss to Wayne State, the Northern Michigan University volleyball team was prepared for a potential home GLIAC win on Saturday afternoon over Findlay.
What it got instead were two initial set wins, and a marked momentum change in the third, fourth and fifth sets to give Findlay a 16-25, 22-25, 25-19, 25-22, 15-12 victory.
The loss at Vandament Arena marked the Wildcats' second in a row at home, with their home record now sitting at 1-2 after a win earlier this week over Michigan Tech. Banking on their record from a nearly month-long road trip at the beginning of the season, the 'Cats now sit at 11-5 overall and 4-3 in the GLIAC. Findlay improved to 7-6 and 4-2, respectively.
Northern Michigan’s Lina Lopes (12) and Kalli Herron attempt to block a kill attempt by Findlay’s Mackenzie Vorst on Saturday. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
"As a team we played really well the first two sets," freshman libero Alex Berger said. "We won the battle of serving and servicing which is really key in a game. We made errors at times, and we shouldn't have, but we played strong through it all. I think there was a big heart change (from last night)."
Berger racked up 10 digs at libero for NMU. Her teammates Lina Lopes and Lisa Studnicka each had 14.
The three games that Northern has played at home this week were in fact Berger's and Studnicka's first games on Northern's home hardwood, making it an interesting experience for the natives of Shakopee, Minn., and Aurora, Ill., respectively.
"It's definitely different being home, especially as a freshman," Berger said. "But we're all together all the time so I think as long as we stay focused on playing we can do well (no matter what)."
Contributing to the Northern offensive effort was Lopes, who added 21 kills, and Kallie Herron, who put down 14 kills with three aces.
Studnicka, a 6-foot-tall outside hitter, finished with eight kills.
"We are relying on our freshman and we will have bumps in the road," NMU head coach Dominic Yoder said. "(We had) the freshman serving errors, a misserve and then a return error in set four. But you know, they're freshman. We can't lean on them too much, but we know that they have quality talent in them.
"It's just that they can play now and compete now. We want them to do that and they're going to do that."
Northern is set to travel to Malone in Canton, Ohio, for a 7 p.m. matchup on Friday.
Amanda Monthei can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.