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Jacqueline Smith makes plenty of kills for Northern Michigan University in volleyball split

Jacqueline Smith

BIG RAPIDS — Jacqueline Smith totaled 41 kills over the weekend as the Northern Michigan University volleyball team split a pair of matches at Ferris State to open the season over the weekend.

Smith had 22 kills and 15 digs in the Wildcats’ five-set loss to the Bulldogs on Friday. FSU prevailed 25-8, 32-34, 25-23, 23-25, 17-15.

She added 19 kills and 25 digs in Saturday’s four-set victory, 25-16, 25-18, 23-25, 25-22.

Hailey Wickstrom had 18 kills and Lizzy Stark 16 in Friday’s marathon match, while Stark had 29 digs and Alli Yacko 24. Angelina Negron and Ania Hyatt each had three blocks, while Madeline Crowley added three service aces.

Setter Lauren Van Remortel had four kills, 17 digs, a block assist and two aces.

In the 34-32 second set, the Wildcats trailed 24-22 when they scored three straight points — kills by Hyatt and Smith and an ace by Stark — to keep their hopes alive as another 20 points were scored by the teams combined.

In the third set, Smith served another ace to tie the score 23-23 before Ferris took the final two points.

A Bulldog attack error and Wickstrom kill put Northern up 23-17 in the fourth set before FSU closed the gap. But a Stark kill assisted by Van Remortel closed out the set.

In the fifth, NMU forced a 15-15 tie after a Ferris service error, but the Bulldogs took the last two points to wrap up the match.

On Saturday, Yacko made 30 digs and Stark had 18 kills.

In Set 1, the teams were never separated by more than two points until two kills by Wickstrom, another kill by Stark and a bad FSU set gave NMU four straight points and a 19-14 lead.

In the second set, Northern grabbed an 8-3 lead following back-to-back kills by Smith and never let its lead slip to less than three points the rest of the way.

NMU also led in the early going of the third set until Ferris tied it 14-14, then held off Northern with ties at 17-17, 22-22 and 23-23 before a Bulldog kill and Wildcats attack error ended that set.

For the first time Saturday, Ferris took the early lead in the fourth set, including at 4-1, 6-2 and 8-3, before three straight points put NMU ahead 12-11 following back-to-back kills by Stark and a Ferris attack error.

The teams traded leads several times until back-to-back kills again by Stark put the Wildcats ahead for good at 21-19. Hyatt had Northern’s last kill of the day as the match ended on a Bulldog attack error and bad set.

NMU (1-1) returns home for its next six matches, two matches each of the next three weekends, starting with Saginaw Valley State at 4:30 p.m. Friday and 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Vandament Arena.

The season includes seven consecutive two-match weekends, culminating with a home-and-home series against Michigan Tech on April 2-3.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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