MARQUETTE, Mich. – Northern Michigan University Volleyball opens their 2018 season this weekend at the Capital Classic, hosted by University of Illinois-Springfield.
The Wildcats first match of the year takes place Friday at 12 pm Eastern against McKendree University. They then return to the court that evening for a 6:30 pm Eastern contest with Walsh University.
On Saturday, NMU takes on Cedarville University at 12 pm Eastern, and conclude the weekend with the hosts at 8:30 pm Eastern.
All matches feature live stats and video.
Follow @NMU_Wildcats on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend.
Live stats and video will be available of each match throughout the weekend. The links for each match can be found HERE.
| Senior Leadership
The 2018 NMU squad features a depth of experience as they boast seven seniors this season. Rachel Braunschweig (Alamo, Calif./San Ramon Valley/Cape Fear CC) returns after leading the team with 460 digs last year while Autumn Monsma (Grand Haven, Mich.) posted 41 aces and led the GLIAC with .38 aces per set in 2017. The pair are also approaching 1,000 digs in their career. Lynzi Svoboda (Minneapolis, Minn./Minneapolis Southwest) enters the season as the team's setter while Jessica Skonning (LaGrange, Ill./Lyons Township) saw time last year as a serve specialist but eyes a larger impact on the team's front row. Maggie Liebeck (Luxemburg, Wis./Luxemburg-Casco) returns from injury and Janie Torola (Calumet, Mich.) looks to make an impact in the middle. In the back, Kaila Mathews (Hoover, Ala.) aims to aid the defense in her second season with the Wildcats after transferring last season.
| All-Conference Performers Return.
Two players return after earning Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors last season and look to build on that experience. Junior Sarah Kuehn (Green Bay, Wis./De Pere) comes back after pacing the GLIAC in hitting percentage and blocks per set. Sophomore Leticia Antunes (Florianopolis, Brazil/Colegio Ofelia Fonseca) enters 2018 after a rookie campaign that saw her earn Second Team All-GLIAC. Antunes finished last year ranked among the team in kills, digs and assists.
Six newcomers will make their NMU debut this weekend and each seeks making an immediate impact for the Wildcats. Freshman Alli Yacko (Oak Lawn, Ill.) comes into the season looking to help out the defense. Along the front line, sophomore transfer Cierra Martinez (Arvada, Colo./Ralston Valley) looks to make her presence known, as do sophomore Elsie Zajicek (Brandon Valley, S.D.), and freshmen Lizzy Stark (Minneapolis, Minn./Washburn) and Alyssa Milski (Oregon, Wis.). Freshman Abby Fortune (Appleton, Wis./Appleton North) begins 2018 as a setter and looks to compete for playing time.
| Making an impact.
NMU features three returners who will look to be a bigger part of the team this season. Junior Cheyanna Pyka (Merrill, Wis.) finished the 2017 season with 12 aces in 16 matches. Junior Gabriela Martinez (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico/Colegio Marista) appeared in 28 matches as a serving specialist and will now look to make a consistent contribution to the back line. Along the front, redshirt-freshman Hailey Wickstrom (Calumet, Mich.) will add to the offensive attack after redshirting her first season at NMU.
| Lozier's Second Season.
Head Coach Mike Lozier begins his second season at the helm of the NMU Volleyball program. During his first season, he guided the Wildcats to a 21-8 overall record and a second place finish in the GLIAC, plus a return to the GLIAC Tournament. The 2017 team finished the year leading Division II in with 2.94 blocks per set.
| NMU vs. McKendree
This is the third meeting with the Bearcats and NMU holds a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series, including a 3-1 win last year. McKendree posted a 23-9 season in 2017 and appeared in the NCAA Tournament.
| NMU vs. Walsh.
NMU defeated Walsh 3-0 last season and have now defeated the Cavaliers five straight times for a 5-1 overall series record. Walsh finished 21-11 last year and 13-5 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
| NMU vs. Cedarville.
Saturday's 12 pm Eastern match will be the fourth meeting between the schools. The Wildcats have won the past two matchups, including a 3-0 victory in their last contest. Last year, the Yellow Jackets went 17-16 on the season, but posted a 12-5 record in the GMAC.
| NMU vs. UIS.
The weekend's final match with the Prairie Stars will be the first-ever matchup between the teams. UIS finished 22-11 overall and 12-6 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference last season.