Wildcats open with Friday wins

By Journal Sports Staff

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Senior Autumn Monsma and sophomore Leticia Antunes each recorded double-doubles to lead the Northern Michigan University volleyball team to victory in its opening match of the season on Friday afternoon.

NMU was playing McKendree in the first of four matches Friday and today at the Capital Classic hosted by the University of Illinois-Springfield.

The Wildcats won its season opener in four sets, 25-15, 25-22, 31-33, 25-21, before adding a three-set sweep of former GLIAC member Walsh, 25-21, 25-16, 25-15, on Friday night.

Northern will go up against Cedarville this afternoon and tourney host Illinois-Springfield this evening.

In the McKendree match, Monsma recorded 17 kills and 12 digs while also making three solo blocks, and Antunes had 16 kills and 13 digs.

Senior teammate Lynzi Svoboda added 43 assists, 11 digs and three aces; senior Maggie Liebeck had 12 kills; senior Rachel Braunschweig led the team with 17 digs; freshman Alli Yacko had two aces in her collegiate debut; and Monsma, senior Jessica Skonning and junior Cheyanna Pyke each had one ace.

After cruising through the first two sets, NMU threatened to sweep by taking an 11-4 lead in the third set. The lead changed hands several times before McKendree outlasted Northern for the 33-31 score.

The fourth and final set was tied 20-20 before NMU pulled away by scoring five of the last six points.

Against Walsh, Monsma again double-doubled with 13 kills and 11 digs, while Sarah Kuehn added 11 kills and two block assists and Liebeck had 10 kills — and a sterling .750 attack percentage — and also two block assists.

Braunschweig led NMU with 19 digs while Alli Yacko had 12. Svoboda added 32 assists.

In the opening set, the Wildcats took a big 15-6 lead before Walsh closed the gap, pulling to within 16-14 and remaining within three points on six more occasions before NMU put it away.

Walsh jumped out to an early lead in Set 2 before six straight points on Yacko serves gave Northern the lead. NMU turned a tenuous 17-15 advantage into an easy victory by scoring eight of the final nine points of the set.

After a 10-3 start, the Wildcats led throughout the final set.

Northern (2-0) returns home for four matches against Minnesota schools at its Wildcat Open next weekend, beginning with an encounter against Minnesota-Crookston at 1 p.m. Friday at Vandament Arena.

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