MARQUETTE - Having gone 1-2 at home prior to this weekend, the Northern Michigan University volleyball team was looking for a big weekend at Vandament Arena to gain confidence before its away series this week.
Managing a 3-1 win over Ohio Dominican on Friday night and a 3-0 sweep of Tiffin University on Saturday night, the Wildcats got just the momentum boost they were looking for.
Despite a nerve-racking final set, the Wildcats (15-9 overall, 7-4 GLIAC) successfully shut down the Dragons by scores of 25-16, 25-13 and 27-25 in their final home match of the weekend in Marquette.
Northern Michigan’s Lisa Studnicka, left, goes for the kill as Wayne State’s Sabine Stadler (16) attempts a block on Saturday. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
"We just did a good job playing as a team, and we've been flowing really well together for the last week," Wildcat defensive specialist Kalin ZImmerman said.
The Dragons (7-14, 1-10) were shut down by the Wildcats' blocking, which head coach Dominic Yoder said has been open for improvement recently.
"One of the things that we really worked on this morning in pregame was our blocking scheme, how we were going to block these guys," Yoder said. "I think our team did a really good job blocking. They really executed it and I've got to thank (assistant coach Inga Kurgonaite) for coming up with the idea."
The Wildcats combined for seven team blocks and eleven total blocks in the sweep. Sarah Hamilton had two solo blocks in the effort.
"Every game, we have a strategy and we scout the team a little bit, so we knew what they wanted to do against us," Zimmerman, who had 14 digs, said. "We manipulated our defense and our offense in order to beat them, and we made sure we worked all that stuff out in practice. We executed it well."
As important as the defense was to Northern's effort against Tiffin, there were also some notable offensive players in the mix.
Lina Lopes led with 15 kills on the offense side of things, while Kalli Herron - who was trying out a right side attack per Yoder's line change up - contributed 14. Freshman Lisa Studnicka added 12 kills for the 'Cats.
"Our team was doing a good job putting up good blocks, so it made it easy to dig balls," Zimmerman said. "Everyone was doing their job and that's what teamwork is all about."
Yoder is expecting his team to carry its reclaimed confidence into its two games this week as they travel to Grand Valley State at 7 p.m. on Friday and Ferris State at 3 p.m. on Saturday for some decisive conference match-ups.
"They're going to be extremely important matches," Yoder said. "Our confidence is high right now and I think it's going to give us an opportunity to get in there and steal a couple matches."
Amanda Monthei can be reached at 228-2500 or at email@example.com