MARQUETTE, Mich. – Northern Michigan University Volleyball's 2018 season featured a hot start and several individual achievements.
The Wildcats started the season 4-0 after winning four matches at the University of Illinois-Springfield Capital Classic, including UIS who advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament. Opening weekend concluded with senior Maggie Liebeck (Luxemburg, Wis./Luxemburg-Casco) was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament and earned the first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors of the season.
The following week, NMU hosted the Wildcat Open where they defeated the University of Minnesota-Duluth, who was ranked #1 at the time. Senior Autumn Monsma (Grand Haven, Mich.), junior Sarah Kuehn (Green Bay, Wis./De Pere) and sophomore Leticia Antunes (Florianopolis, Brazil/Colegio Ofelia Fonseca) were all named to the All-Tournament Team.
After winning their first eight matches, the team received a #23 ranking to start GLIAC play. The Wildcats finished the season undefeated in nonconference play as they picked up three victories at the Midwest Region Conference Crossover, the best performance among the GLIAC teams, and saw Monsma earn GLIAC Player of the Week honors.
The season came to a close with a 16-11 record, the fourth-straight season of 15 wins or more. Two players earned All-GLIAC honors as Kuehn was named to the second team and Liebeck was named honorable mention. Kuehn posted 276 kills on the season, averaging 2.65 kills per set. Kuehn also led the Wildcats with 107 blocks, which placed her fifth in the league, and averaged 1.03 blocks per set which was the third-best mark in the conference. For the season, Kuehn finished with 14 solo blocks and 93 block assists. Since joining the team last season, the junior has moved to 15th place in school history with 254 total blocks while she is 12th with 218 block assists.
Liebeck tied Kuehn for second on the NMU squad with 276 and 2.65 kills per set. After suffering through injuries, Liebeck came back and appeared in 27 matches and 104 sets. At the net, the outside hitter tallied 48 total blocks, with 46 block assists.
As the season continued, several players achieved significant milestones. Senior Rachel Braunschweig (Alamo, Calif./San Ramon Valley) achieved 1,000 digs in her career, finishing with 1,178 for her career, putting her 10th in school history. Her 3.95 digs per set average places her fourth all-time. On the season She had 415 digs which is the 15th best season at NMU.
Monsma achieved the mark later in the season on her way to notching 1,048 as a Wildcat while notching 122 aces in her career, placing her 16th all-time. For the season, she led the team with 318 kills and was second on the team with 314 digs.
Senior Lynzi Svoboda (Minneapolis, Minn./Minneapolis Southwest) also reached 1,000 assists in her career, ending her NMU career with 1,273 and tallied 1,032 this season.