Taking to the road: Northern Michigan University volleyball team sweeps road matches, plays at GLIAC coleader Ferris State on Friday
Up next: Wildcats at Ferris State, 7 p.m. Friday; at Lake Superior State, 4 p.m. Saturday
MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University moved into a tie for first place in the GLIAC last weekend while getting a good tuneup for possibly the Wildcats’ toughest match of the season coming up on Friday.
NMU swept a pair of struggling conference foes, winning at Wisconsin-Parkside and at Purdue Northwest without dropping a set.
Confidence gained there should come in handy when Northern travels to Big Rapids to take on Ferris State for a match at 7 p.m. Friday. Like the Wildcats, Ferris is 6-1 and shares the top spot in the GLIAC with Northern.
Currently, the Bulldogs own a tiebreaker over NMU after Ferris won at Vandament Arena in three straight sets on Sept. 17.
One advantage Northern may have is in their overall records as the Wildcats are a sterling 13-2 while FSU is a more modest 8-7.
This weekend’s road trip wraps up in Sault Ste. Marie against Lake Superior State at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Here is a roundup of last weekend’s matches:
NMU 3, Wisconsin-Parkside 0
On Friday at Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Wildcats prevailed 25-10, 25-12, 25-22 as Jacqueline Smith led the way with 19 kills. Teammate Meghan Meyer had seven kills without an error along with two blocks, while Madeline Crowley had a perfect hitting percentage, Alli Yacko 10 digs and Lauren Van Remortel 34 assists.
Northern had a narrow 7-5 lead in the first set when it went on a 10-1 run to take an insurmountable 17-6 advantage. In that streak, Smith had four kills.
NMU kept its lead in double digits as it finished the set with back-to-back-to-back points that included kills by Smith and Meyer.
The second set was similar, with the Wildcats using a 4-0 run to break a 5-5 tie that included two kills by Smith and one by Olivia Webber. Then they really poured it on with a 9-1 streak that turned a 10-7 edge into a 19-8 bulge. The latter string included three kills by Lizzy Stark.
Parkside got as close as 21-12 before NMU ended the set with four straight points keyed by kills from Stark and Smith and two Rangers’ attack errors.
The third set was much more competitive with neither team leading by more than two points until the Wildcats scored four in a row to take a 20-17 lead. That streak included back-to-back kills by Smith and a Van Remortel ace.
Northern continued to nurse its narrow lead until a Yacko ace brought it to match point, 24-21, and two points later a Parkside attack error ended the day.
NMU 3, Purdue Northwest 0
On Saturday at Hammond, Indiana, the Wildcats won 25-23, 25-23, 25-16 to make it three straight 3-0 matches that began with Northern’s home sweep of Michigan Tech on Sept. 20.
Against Purdue Northwest, Smith had team highs of 17 kills and three aces while adding nine digs and a block, and Van Remortel made 33 assists as McKenzie Gruner had a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage.
The first set was as close as the final score indicated, with neither team leading by more than three points until NMU put together a 4-0 string to go up 21-16 that included a Stark kill and Caylie Barlage ace.
But the host Pride kept it close, scoring four straight points — all on Northern errors — to get back within 21-20.
Purdue NW remained close and actually tied it 23-23 on another pair of errors in a row by NMU. But that’s when Smith came through with back-to-back kills, both off sets by Van Remortel, to end the set.
The second set began with the Pride taking leads of 8-4 and 10-6. But the Wildcats worked their way back to an 11-11 tie after Meyer made a pair of kills along with an ace.
Northern put together a 6-0 string to go up 18-14 including a kill and two aces by Smith and a kill by
The Pride stayed within range and got within one, 23-22, after three straight points.
But the Wildcats notched two of the next three points on an attack error and then the set-clinching kill by Smith, again set up by Van Remortel.
That finish seemed to take the air out of the Pride’s balloon as NMU opened the final set with a small lead that quickly increased to 14-5 following a 7-0 run. In that streak, Meyer had two kills and Stark and Rayne Thompson one each, while Yacko made an ace.
Northern kept PNW at arm’s length the rest of the way and ended the weekend with a 4-0 run that included Thompson and Meyer kills and a Barlage ace, though the clincher came on a Pride ball-handling error.
Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is email@example.com.