DUNBAR, Wis. – Northland International ended the week undefeated with women’s volleyball wins against Silver Lake College and Gogebic.
On Tuesday the Lady Pioneers welcomed in the Lakers of Silver Lake College. This was the last match for LSC as they came in with a winning record.
The Lady Pioneers appeared sluggish in the first set getting behind at 19-23. Olivia smith served NI back in at 22-23. An SLC hitting error along with kills by Hanna Cole and Valerie Stauff gave them a come from behind win.
The Lakers came right back in set two and gained a 22-20 lead on NI hitting errors. The Lady Pioneer offense helped SLC take set two with 4 more hitting errors to hand a 25-22 win over to SLC.
Coach Herron rotated the lineup and it proved successful as the offense settled in and scored more consistently. A stronger service game was had as well as NI finished the match with scores of 25-17 and 25-15.
Coach Herron commented, “This team is learning that hitting errors have to be reduced after 15 points and missed serves have to be reduced after 20 points to be successful. If you have a lead and can do this winning comes, if you are behind and don’t do this you will not win.”
Valerie Stauff had 15 kills but 4 service errors. Marissa Hawley had 13 kills but 9 errors in the last two sets. Hanna Cole had 8 kills, 2 aces and 11 digs. Tiffany Kercher had 10 kills and 7 digs.
Friday brought Gogebic to campus as NI celebrated homecoming weekend. A festive crowd packed in the Pioneer Athletic Center and NI responded with a solid effort in the first two sets with identical 25-8 scores.
The team was attacking and serving extremely well with only 1 error on 33 swings to go along with 12 aces, with Hanna Cole getting 7 alone. Eighteen digs helped the offense get in system and attack evenly across the net.
After a crowd ‘game break’ set three, GC took a 23-21 lead on defensive errors by NI. Tiffany Kercher served NI back to a 23-23 tie. A serving error and hitting error handed the set to GC.
Set four had some motivation offered by Coach Herron and NI came out to take a 14-7 lead.
“A player must feel the temperature of the moment so as to control the environment of the match,” Herron said. “We had a couple of players that didn’t understand the heat of the moment at the end of set 3. I let them know they need to deal with it and be ready.” Set three continued with NI controlling its ‘environment’ and took a 21-13 lead. Herron gave some ‘opportunity to contribute’ to some players and GC crept back into the match with a 7-2 run of their own.
The Samsons went ahead at 24-23 as the NI faithful ‘Bleacher Creatures’ implored the home team to make a play. A GC hitting error, a Hawley block and a kill put NI back on top 25-24. GC tied the score at 25-25 and then a Kercher dig and a Hawley kill gave NI a 26-25 lead.
A GC passing error let NI escape and gave the crowd something to celebrate with a 27-25 win.
In this match, the Pioneers had 48 kills and only 8 hitting errors. A strong service game had 18 aces for NI with only 8 reception errors for the Pioneer serve receive. Olivia Smith had 39 assists and 3 aces, followed by 9 aces for Cole to go along with 8 kills. Elizabeth Humberg had 5 kills, 11 digs with 0 service errors.
NI has its last match of the season at home Thursday in the PAC against Finlandia University a team that beat NI in 3 about 2 weeks ago in Houghton.
The Lady Pioneers then wait to see what their seed will be headed into the Midwest Regional at Moody in Chicago.
“I am so proud of what this team has accomplished,” Herron said. “We have a completely opposite record from last year (19-7). They have worked hard and trusted each other and have played together all season. We thank God for the opportunity.”