Highly anticipated: Fans only have short wait to see GLIAC volleyball champion Northern Michigan University Wildcats at home this fall

Northern Michigan University’s Madeline Crowley, left, bumps the ball during a GLIAC Tournament semifinal match against Grand Valley State on April 10 at Saginaw Valley State’s gym in University Center. Watching the play behind her are the Wildcats’ libero Alli Yacko, center, and outside hitter Lizzy Stark. (Photo courtesy GLIAC website)

Home opener: 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17, vs. Ferris State


MARQUETTE — Compared to the wait for this past season, fans shouldn’t feel too put out if they have to wait a couple weeks for the volleyball team at Northern Michigan University to play a home match in the upcoming campaign.

The Wildcats and most other NCAA Division II teams had to put off their usual fall season until February before getting the 2020 season underway late in the winter of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now they’ll get a return of volleyball to its rightful place in the fall, though the Wildcats won’t be home until mid-September.

Northern Michigan University's Jacqueline Smith, center top, goes up for a kill during the first set against Michigan Tech on April 3 at Vandament Arena in Marquette. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

NMU opens its season at a pair of tournaments in the first two weekends of September before making its home debut in GLIAC matches on three consecutive days starting on Friday, Sept. 17.

Anticipation should be high after the Wildcats won both the GLIAC regular season and tournament championships in April, only to have their seasons end with the conference tourney because the Division II national tournament was canceled.

Northern (15-2 overall, 12-2 GLIAC) finished No. 18 in the country in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association D-2 coaches poll and had five All-GLIAC selections as well as the GLIAC Freshman of the Year in Jacqueline Smith and conference Coach of the Year with Mike Lozier.

All five of the All-GLIAC picks return this season — First Team picks Smith, sophomore Lauren Van Remortel, and freshman Meghan Meyer; Second Team selection Lizzy Stark, a junior, and Honorable Mention Alli Yacko, also a junior.

The three First Teamers was the most for the Wildcats since 1998, while the five altogether tied a mark set in 2003. And Lozier’s selection as top coach was NMU’s first since 2003, when Jim Moore earned that honor, while Smith’s pick as top freshman was the first for the Wildcats since 2010, when Lina Lopes got that award.

Northern Michigan University's Lizzy Stark, left, passes the ball in the fourth set as teammate Alli Yacko looks on in a GLIAC volleyball match played against Saginaw Valley State on Sept. 28, 2019, at Vandament Arena in Marquette. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

NMU will have nine home matches and between home and away matches, will face six teams this fall that had winning records in this past winter’s season. Two of those winning teams received votes in the AVCA national poll.

The Wildcats open their season Sept. 2-4 at the Keweenaw Classic hosted by Michigan Tech in Houghton. They’ll face Minnesota State-Mankato on the opening afternoon, then face St. Cloud State and Concordia-St. Paul on day 2 before finishing against Minnesota-Duluth on the final afternoon.

They’ll have a four more matches the following weekend at the Indianapolis Tournament hosted by the University of Indianapolis. On Sept. 10, they play Ashland in the morning and Winona State in the evening, then have two more matches on Sept. 11 against teams to be determined.

Then comes the home-opening weekend at Northern’s Vandament Arena. The Wildcats open their home and GLIAC seasons against Ferris State at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17, before facing Grand Valley State at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, and Davenport at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 19.

They hit the road the next week, playing at Northwood on Sept. 24 and Lake Superior State on Sept. 25, before returning home to open October for Homecoming weekend.

NMU hosts Saginaw Valley State at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1, and Wayne State at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, before hitting the road for the next three weekends.

The road trip includes matches at Michigan Tech at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9 — which has been televised by WLUC-TV6 or Fox Sports-U.P. the past several years — two teams not yet announced at the Midwest Region Volleyball Crossover in Hammond, Indiana, on Oct. 15-16, Purdue Northwest on Oct. 22 and Wisconsin-Parkside on Oct. 23.

Northern comes back to Marquette for its final three regular-season matches, hosting MTU at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, Lake Superior State at 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 5, and Northwood at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6.

One more weekend of road matches — at Wayne State on Nov. 12 and SVSU on Nov. 13 — comes before the GLIAC Tournament begins. The quarterfinal round, which has traditionally been played at the top four seeds, is on Wednesday, Nov. 17, with the semifinals and finals on Nov. 20-21, normally at the site of the remaining highest-seeded team.

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


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