Northern Michigan University volleyball team can get redemption for slow start by playing at Michigan Tech tonight

Northern Michigan University’s Lauren Van Remortel, left, goes for the ball during a match against Michigan Tech held at Vandament Arena in Marquette in November 2019. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — The season could turn around quickly for the Northern Michigan University volleyball team after the Wildcats’ losing streak reached three matches following losses at Purdue Northwest and Wisconsin-Parkside over the weekend.

That’s because 2-10 Northern faces heated Upper Peninsula rival Michigan Tech tonight in Houghton. The match will be televised by Fox-U.P. at 6 p.m. with viewing also available online at FloVolleyball and live statistics available online at the NMU athletics website at nmuwildcats.com and looking under the volleyball team schedule.

Despite their struggles, the Wildcats can still pull even with Tech in the GLIAC by winning as NMU is 1-3 there and MTU is 2-2.

The Wildcats have a busy week as they start a two-week, four-match homestand at Vandament Arena beginning with a 6:30 p.m. Friday match against Ferris State and 3:30 p.m. Saturday match vs. Lake Superior State. Ferris leads the conference at 4-0 while LSSU is 2-2.

Here is a wrapup of last weekend’s action:


Purdue Northwest 3, NMU 1

On Friday in Hammond, Indiana, the Pride are in the midst of an excellent season at 8-4 overall and 3-1 in the league as Purdue NW defeated Northern for the first time ever, winning 25-18, 21-25, 25-21, 25-19.

Jacqueline Smith, recently returned from injury, led the NMU attack with 11 kills as she also had 11 digs, a block and a service ace.

Teammate Liesl Haugen has been a recent leader on defense, this time making a team-high 19 digs with two aces. Evynn Layshock, who has also been out for an extended period with injury, joined McKenzie Gruner making nine kills apiece, while Gruner also had two blocks and Lauren Van Remortel had 31 assists and 12 digs.

After an even start in the first set where neither team scored more than two points in a row, Northern scored four straight to go up 11-9 with a Gruner kill and three PNW errors.

But the Pride answered with an 8-3 spurt that included five Wildcat errors to make it 16-13 Pride. PNW continued applying pressure as Northern couldn’t score consecutive points the rest of the set.

Northern took several early leads in the second set following strings of points. Layshock had a kill and Haugen an ace as NMU scored the first four points, then Meghan Meyer had an ace to go with three PNW errors for another 4-0 run to make it 10-5.

While each team had decent strings of points later in the set, the Wildcats never relinquished the lead and won the set following a Layshock kill and Pride error.

With the match tied 1-1, the third set hardly settled anything for a long while. Neither team scored more than two points in a row until NMU put together a 3-0 spurt to go ahead 18-16 after a Smith kill and ace.

It stayed close until Purdue NW scored five of the final six points that included a Northern error and three Pride aces.

The Wildcats protected a quick 6-1 start in the fourth set, the spurt keyed by Smith and Meyer kills and a Haugen ace. They remained ahead until PNW scored back-to-back points to tie it 16-16, then took control to end the match by finishing on a 9-3 spurt that included five NMU errors.


Wisconsin.-Parkside 3, NMU 1

On Saturday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Wildcats dug in defensively as Haugen put together 29 digs, Caylie Barlage had 15 and Smith 14. But the Rangers still prevailed 25-23, 26-24, 18-25, 25-18.

Layshock led the NMU offense with 12 kills as Meyer had 11 and Gruner 10.

Gruner put up eight blocks while Van Remortel had 45 assists.

The teams matched each other mini-run for mini-run in the first set until Parkside scored five straight in a 9-2 run to make it 18-14. Northern answered with three points in a row as Rayne Thompson had a kill and Barlage an ace to pull within 18-17.

Then with the Rangers at set point at 24-20, NMU saved the set three straight times on Layshock and Thompson kills and a Parkside error. But UWP closed it out with an Ava Irvin kill.

The second set started just as close, but Northern took a 14-10 lead following an 8-3 run that included kills by Thompson, Smith, Layshock and Van Remortel to go with four UWP errors.

A 5-1 Rangers’ run gave them a 19-18 lead, but the Wildcats answered with five in a row keyed by Smith and Layshock kills and a Smith ace.

Parkside then dug deep, erasing a 23-19 deficit by finishing the set on a 7-1 run as Thompson broke up the string with a kill.

Down two sets, Northern had to recover to stay in the match. That the Wildcats did, first taking a 4-3 lead on a Haugen ace, then going up as much as 15-7 after back-to-back Parkside errors.

With UWP making a comeback, NMU scored three straight on Layshock and Gruner kills, then closed out the set with another Gruner kill.

Northern also jumped out on top in the fourth set before Parkside caught up for the first time at 10-10. The match was even until the Rangers erased a 16-15 deficit by scoring 10 of the final 12 points.

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


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