MARQUETTE, Mich. – Northern Michigan University Volleyball gets their 2019-20 season started this week by playing in the Keweenaw Classic hosted by Michigan Technological University. The action starts Thursday with the Wildcats taking on University of Mary at 5 p.m. They then face Upper Iowa University at 11 a.m. Friday followed by a 5 p.m. match with #9 Southwest Minnesota State University that evening. The weekend finishes with NMU playing the University of Minnesota Crookston at 5 p.m. Saturday night.
Keep up with how the Wildcats are doing this weekend and in the future by following @NMU_Wildcats on Twitter. All matches feature Live Stats. Each game will also be available on radio.
Thursday vs. Mary
Time: 5 P.M.
Live Stats: http://www.nmuwildcats.com/sports/wvball/2019-20/boxscores/20190905_lext.xml
Friday vs. Upper Iowa
Time: 11 A.M.
Live Stats: http://www.nmuwildcats.com/sports/wvball/2019-20/boxscores/20190906_bll9.xml
Friday vs. #9 Southwest Minnesota State
Time: 5 P.M.
Live Stats: http://www.nmuwildcats.com/sports/wvball/2019-20/boxscores/20190906_rdvw.xml
Saturday vs. Minnesota Crookston
Time: 5 P.M.
Live Stats: http://www.nmuwildcats.com/sports/wvball/2019-20/boxscores/20190907_ys5w.xml
| RETURNING OFFENSE
The Wildcats will be led by two-time All-GLIAC performer, senior Sarah Kuehn (Green Bay, Wis.). Kuehn returns as a team captain after leading the team with a total of 107 blocks and second on the team with 276 kills. The senior posted a .281 hitting percentage to lead the way among players with over 100 kills.
Also returning to the team will be junior Leticia Antunes (Florianopolis, Brazil). Antunes notched 221 kills along with 253 digs. Her 2.70 kills and 3.09 digs per set were both second on the team last year as well. She will be joined by sophomore Alli Yacko (Oak Lawn, Ill.) who paced the team with 33 aces during her rookie campaign.
| THE BACKLINE
Yacko returns to the backline for her second season and will be joined by two senior returners. Gabriela Martinez (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) saw time on the backline last year in addition to serving as a serve specialist the past two years. Martinez has amassed 315 digs over her career along with 31 aces. Cheyanna Pyka (Merrill, Wis.) also enters her senior season and looks to bounce back after battling injury last year.
| THE ATTACK
In addition to Antunes leading the offensive attack, sophomore Lizzy Stark (Minneapolis, Minn.) will step into a larger role after gaining experience her first season at NMU, recording four kills and 10 aces.
Sophomore Hailey Wickstrom (Calumet, Mich.) will also move into a larger role this year after playing behind two All-GLIAC performers the past two seasons. In eight sets, Wickstrom notched 12 kills at a .308 clip.
She will be joined by freshman Madeline Crowley (Green Bay, Wis.). Crowley comes to the team after setting school records at Ashwaubenon High School for aces and digs.
| PROTECTING THE MIDDLE
Joining Kuehn in the middle and looking to aid her in protecting the net this season will be two returning juniors. Cierra Martinez (Arvada, Colo.) and Elsie Zajicek (Brandon Valley, S.D.) who both return for their second season with NMU.
Martinez notched 50 blocks last year along with 74 kills after starting the majority of the season. Zajicek eyes a larger impact this year after seeing time in six matches and posting eight total blocks. Freshman Abigail Durecki (South Lyon, Mich.) will also compete for time in the middle.
| SETTING IT UP
The Wildcats will feature a new full-time setter this season. Sophomore Abby Fortune (Appleton, Wis.) comes into the year with a total of 41 assists she posted during her freshman season. Looking to challenge her for playing time will be freshman Lauren Van Remortel (Carmel, Ind.) who eyes an immediate impact this season.
| NMU VERSUS MARY
The season opening contest will be the second matchup between the two schools. In 2017, NMU bested Mary 3-0 by set scores of 25-14, 25-11, 25-23.
| NMU VERSUS UPPER IOWA
NMU last played the Peacocks in 2017, falling in the contest. Upper Iowa holds a 4-1 advantage over NMU and are coming off an 18-11 season last year.
| NMU VERSUS SOUTHWEST MINN. STATE
NMU will face SMSU for the first time since 2011 and the series is currently split 1-1. The Mustangs come into the season ranked #9 in the country, the 10th straight year they have started the year ranked in the nation's top ten. Last season, SMSU reached the NCAA Tournament.
| NMU VERSUS MINN. CROOKSTON
NMU holds an 8-0 all-time lead in the overall series. NMU won the past two matchups 3-0, with Crookston last winning a set in the 2012 matchup.