Northern Michigan University Wildcats volleyball team opens GLIAC part of schedule with home split

Northern Michigan University’s Meghan Meyer gets expressive while ready to spike the ball during a UP Open college volleyball match against Northwood on Sept. 2. (Photo courtesy Cara Kamps)

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University volleyball team opened its GLIAC schedule by splitting a pair of home matches played in the Vandament Arena over the weekend.

A five-set victory over Davenport ended a seven-match losing streak that extended through most of a pair of season-opening tournaments against quality competition. A day later, the Wildcats lost in four sets to Grand Valley State.

NMU (2-8 overall, 1-1 GLIAC) continues conference play with three straight matches on the road over the next week, playing in Hammond, Indiana, at Purdue Northwest at 8 p.m. EDT Friday; in Kenosha, Wisconsin, at Wisconsin-Parkside at 3 p.m. EDT Saturday; and in Houghton at Michigan Tech at 6 p.m. next Tuesday.

Northern returns home a few days later on Sept. 29 vs. Ferris State and Sept. 30 vs. Lake Superior State.

Here are details on this past weekend’s matches as provided by NMU Sports Information:


NMU 3, Davenport 2

On Friday evening, 2022 All-GLIAC and All-American outside hitter Jacqueline Smith returned to the Wildcats’ lineup in a big way, making a match-high 16 kills while adding two blocks, a service ace and even two assists.

Northern prevailed 25-19, 25-23, 21-25, 20-25, 15-9.

Teammate Liesl Haugen had a team-high 18 digs, while Lauren Van Remortel made 15 digs to go with 45 assists. McKenzie Gruner and Remi Madison each had career highs of 11 kills, according to NMU SI, while Caylie Barlage had a match-high four aces to go with 13 digs.

The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead in the opening set on the strength of kills by Smith, Gruner, Meghan Meyer and Rayne Thompson mixed in with three DU errors.

Though NMU wouldn’t give up the lead the rest of the set, the Panthers did pull within a single point several times at 8-7 and 15-14.

But soon after the second closing of the gap, Northern went on an 8-3 run to take an almost uncatchable 23-17 advantage. That spurt was spurred by a pair of Smith kills and one each by Gruner and Meyer and a Haugen ace.

The Wildcats again jumped out to the same 7-2 lead to start the second set, started by a Smith kill and also ace and later followed by a Thompson kill.

This time, though, NMU wouldn’t let DU back in the set, extending its lead to 12-3 and 18-7 before the Wildcats’ final three points were scored on kills by Sydney Bartels, Gruner and Thompson.

With their backs to the wall, the Panthers mounted a comeback that would even the match at two sets apiece.

In the third set, NMU recovered from an early hole to take a 7-6 lead after three straight points scored on kills by Meyer, Smith and Meyer again.

Neither team had a lead of more than three points until DU went on a 5-0 run that included a trio of Northern errors to get to quintuple set point at 24-19. NMU got two of the points back before Davenport ended the set.

In the fourth set, the Wildcats trailed just 7-5 when the Panthers went on an 6-1 run. Though NMU pulled within three points several times after that, again the home team couldn’t get over the hump.

That forced the decisive fifth set, the race to 15 points. A quick start was crucial, and Northern jumped out to 3-0 and 7-4 leads that included three Smith kills.

Then a 4-0 run fueled by a pair of Madison kills made it 11-6. NMU traded points down the stretch until Madison made kills on two of the Wildcats’ final three points, including the match ender.


Grand Valley State 3, NMU 1

On Saturday afternoon, the Lakers improved to 7-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference by posting a 25-21, 23-25, 25-11, 25-11 victory.

While Van Remortel had every one of the Wildcats’ 33 assists, Meyer led the attack with nine kills as Smith had eight and Madison seven. Haugen made a team-high 15 digs with Barlage adding 12 and Gruner had a team-high four blocks.

The opening set was close early with seven ties, the last at 11-11. Then the Lakers scored five straight, which included a trio of NMU errors, to take control.

While Northern scored three in a row to pull within 22-19 on a Gruner kill and two GVSU errors, the teams traded points after that for the Lakers win.

NMU prevailed for the only time in a streaky second set. Grand Valley jumped ahead 5-1 before the Wildcats tightened things up, even though they couldn’t catch the Lakers until their own 5-1 spurt made it 19-19. That string included a Madison kill and four GVSU errors.

Northern put the set away with a final 4-1 run including a Meyer kill and ace and a pair of Lakers errors.

That might’ve woken up Grand Valley, which had multiple long runs to put the third and fourth sets away.

In the third, the Lakers had a 7-2 run early, a 9-2 spurt in the middle and a 7-1 streak near the end that made it an insurmountable 23-9. Meyer did have a late kill to insure the Wildcats would score in double digits.

For the fourth, NMU was only down 10-6 when GVSU mounted a massive 11-1 streak only interrupted by their own error to make it 21-7.

Smith and Gruner had kills and Smith an ace to once again bump Northern’s score past 10.

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


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