MARQUETTE - In terms of conference standings, the Northern Michigan University volleyball team's win over Hillsdale on Friday night came at just the right time.
With a 3-1 win (25-14, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22) over the visiting Chargers, who previously sat in third in the GLIAC standings with only one week left before the start of the post-season, NMU improved to 18-10 overall and 10-5 in the GLIAC. Hillsdale is now 15-11 and 11-4, respectively.
"This was a must win for us," NMU head coach Dominic Yoder said. "It gives us an opportunity to leapfrog a couple teams, to get up in the conference standings and put ourselves in a position to get into that first round of the conference tournament."
Northern Michigan University’s Jasmine Calhoun goes for the kill as Hillsdale's Lauren Grover (9) attempts to block during a GLIAC match at NMU's Vandament Arena on Friday. (Journal photo by Amanda Monthei)
Northern has now won five of its last six games, but heads into todays' 4 p.m. home game against the conferences' No. 1 team, Northwood, which is undefeated in the GLIAC at 15-0.
"We've got to do the same thing (against Northwood) - pass and serve and side out," Yoder said. "We can side out with the best of them, and Northwood has one of the top-10 attackers (Juliia Pakhonenko) in the nation.
"We've got to be able to really shut down the rest of the team and control her."
Yoder and the Wildcats are also confident they can maintain their strong energy from Friday nights' game, which was noticeably high in their first and last sets against Hillsdale.
"We have nothing to lose. We're going to take it by the horns and just go with it," junior middle hitter Sarah Hamilton said.
Yoder plans for continued momentum in passing and serving which, he says, is where the Wildcats can best control the speed of the game.
"If we're serving well and passing well, our energy is high because that's how we control the tempo of the match," Yoder said.
"In the first set we did that, in the fourth set we did that.
"But in set two, we did not do that. (Hillsdale) controlled the tempo. The energy really comes from our pass and serve."
Contributing to the high energy of Fridays' game were all three hitters up front, as Hamilton put down 12 kills from the middle,
Kalli Herron contributed another 13 and Lina Lopes led the team with 17 total kills.
"(Setter) Kellisha (Harley) was running a great offense," Yoder commented.
"Our attackers were taking the opportunities when we had splits and scoring (off those), especially Kalli on the right side and Sarah attacking."
Harley had 46 total assists on offense, while Kalin Zimmerman led the defense with 17 digs at libero.
Wildcat Jasmine Calhoun also notched a match-high of three solo blocks, while freshman Lisa Studnicka posted four aces.
"We just came out really excited to play," Hamilton said.
Leading the Chargers were both Lauren Grover and Emily Wolfert, each contributing 12 kills.
Bailey Lindner led her team in service aces with three.
Amanda Monthei can be reached at 228-2500 or at email@example.com