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Northern Michigan University volleyball team hosts Wisconsin-Parkside after weekend sweep at home

Mike Lozier

MARQUETTE — It’s still early in the season for the Northern Michigan University volleyball team, but it has looked sharp in its first few matches.

After splitting on the road with GLIAC powerhouse Ferris State, the Wildcats came home and swept both matches against Saginaw Valley State last weekend, winning easily Friday and gutting out a win Saturday, each coming in four sets.

“Any time you can win two on a weekend is good,” NMU head coach Mike Lozier said in a Monday Zoom interview. “Friday, the box score was pretty indicative of what happened. We came out ready to go. Saginaw was not prepared for what we had to offer, so we kind of kicked them around a little bit, let our foot off the gas in that third set and let them get that win, and then took care of business in the fourth.

“Saturday, Saginaw showed up ready to go and we really didn’t have it the entire time. The entire match was a struggle. Every timeout, us coaches would just be saying the same things. We looked frantic, we looked not prepared and the fact that we got a win ultimately means we’re a pretty good program.

“If we can show up and not seem like we’re good to go and still get a win is, in the grand scheme of things, OK. But we’ve got to learn from it.

Jacqueline Smith

“So our focus and attention (this week) is going to be on watching that match from Saturday, learning from it and getting better because teams are not always going to give us those wins the way it worked out on Saturday.”

Northern not only had a good weekend as a team, but one of its players captured an individual honor as freshman Jacqueline Smith finished with 37 kills and earned GLIAC North Player of the Week. She also had 24 digs and three aces.

The Wildcats stay in town this week as they’ll host Wisconsin-Parkside at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday in Vandament Arena. Lozier said the Rangers have struggled so far, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be a pushover.

“They’ve gotten off to a slow start,” he said. “They also had kind of a gauntlet start to their schedule. They had to go to Grand Valley (State), then they played Ashland, who is the only undefeated team left in our conference, now they have to come to the (Upper Peninsula) and play us.

“I sense just from watching the little bit I have so far, they’re going to be a little desperate. They’re not playing great volleyball at this point. You’ve just got to call it like you see it, but the idea is that I’m sure over this next week, their coach is going to have them prepared and what I expect is a lot of what we saw on Saturday from Saginaw. Very scrappy, just trying to keep the ball in the air and force errors on us.

“And for Saginaw, it almost worked against us, so we’re going to have to make changes on our side in order to not let that happen again. They do have some firepower on the right side and on the outsides. So we’ll be focusing a lot on that throughout the week in preparation for them.”

Lozier also said that although his team will be looking closely on what Parkside has to offer, it will also focus on improving their own game.

“The beginning of every week is totally on us,” he said. “We’ll discuss a little bit about what happened this past weekend, learn from it over Monday and Tuesday. We don’t introduce our opponent until Wednesday just because we have so much work to do on our side of the net that it would be foolish for us to spend a ton of time on our opponents.

“We will take some time, and as we progress,

as we start to develop a little bit more routine or cohesiveness on the court, we will introduce more information depending on our opponent. I can imagine going into that Davenport and that Michigan Tech, those last two weekends, we’ll probably spend a little bit more time on them because at that point, it’s just about maintenance of the body and just staying healthy and getting ready for the next weekend.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-250, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.

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