MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University volleyball team started the season 17-0 and made it to the NCAA tournament for the third straight year. The Wildcats fell to the University of Indianapolis in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Regional. NMU was ranked nationally in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 from week two all the way to its final ranking at No. 23.
“Starting 17-0 was definitely the most memorable thing from our season.” Head coach Dominic Yoder said. “Taking a young team of freshmen and sophomores and having the success we did against experienced teams was great!”
NMU concluded the 2010 campaign with an overall record of 22-7 and 15-4 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) which was good for second place in the North Division.
NMU won the Wildcat Open to start the season off. The ‘Cats only lost three sets out of the 15 they played. Over the next 13 matches the ‘Cats dominated their opponents only playing two five set matches. NMU finished the month of September with a record of 12-0. During their explosive run NMU climbed as high as No. 13 in the national polls.
It wasn’t until the GLIAC/Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Crossover tournament in mid October when the ‘Cats suffered their first loss of the season to Indianapolis in three sets. Emma Wolfe and Abby Lovell each made the Crossover all-tournament team.
The ‘Cats went 4-4 in the last matches of the regular season and finished third in the GLIAC behind Hillsdale and Grand Valley. NMU hosted a first round GLIAC Tournament match when they hosted Tiffin. NMU won, 3-0, making their final record at Vandament Arena, 12-1.
NMU went to Hillsdale for the semi-finals of the GLIAC Volleyball Tournament to face Grand Valley State. Each squad had split during the season on each others home floor. This time GVSU came away with the victory in four sets.
NMU went back to Hillsdale to play in the NCAA Tournament, losing to Indianapolis for the second time.
A total of four players were named to the All-GLIAC Volleyball Team. Freshman outside hitter Ana Lopes was selected as the GLIAC Freshman of the Year. Sophomore setter Abby Lovell was selected to the first team.Sophomore middle hitter Sami Vierk was selected to the second team and junior middle hitter Emma Wolfe was honorable mention.
Lopes was also selected as the Midwest Regional Freshman of the Year by the AVCA and also all-tournament selection at the NCAA Midwest Regional.
“Having Ana and Abby on the first team and Ana as the Freshman of the Year in the conference was a great honor. Sami and Emma were also chosen as all-conference selections.” Yoder said. “Ana getting the Freshman of the Year in the Midwest Region is also a great honor for our program and our team.”
Lopes led the ‘Cats with 330 kills (3.06 k/s). Vierk was second on the team in kills (315) while a total of six ‘Cats recorded over 100. Lovell lead the squad with 1,026 assists. The ‘Cats lone senior (Katie Twardzik) was second with 116 assists helpers. Lopes was fierce with the serve as she had a team-high 50 service aces. Becca Feuerherd chipped in with 31 and Lovell added 21. As a team the ‘Cats led the conference with 203 service aces for the second year in a row. Lopes led the ‘Cats on the defensive front with 323 digs.
“Katie was a good leader for us all year. She really showed her talents as a volleyball player when she stepped in the setter role against Winona State and led us to victory.” Yoder said. “I will always remember her for that performance.”
NMU has made it to the NCAA Tournament three years in a row and will look to advance past the first round in 2011. The ‘Cats will have some high expectations for next season after such a good 2010 season and will soon start preparing for a championship run.
“We can’t be young anymore. We really set ourselves up for high expectations for next year. We’re getting our schedule organized to get ourselves prepared for the national stage in 2011.” Yoder said.
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