MARQUETTE, Mich. – It did not look like the Wildcat volleyball team was a squad that lost seven-straight on Friday, as the Wildcats bested Davenport in four sets in the GLIAC Opener 25-19, 25-13, 21-25, 20-25 and 15-9.
McKenzie Gruner and Remi Madison each notched career-highs in kills with 11, while Jacqueline Smith led the way with 16 in her return to the lineup. Meghan Meyer also reach double-digit kills with 10.
NMU hit .163 on the evening while Davenport was .073.
It was a balanced attack early on, with four different Wildcats managing a kill in the team’s first six points. Behind a lively crowd, the ‘Cats pounced early for a 7-2 lead.
With AVCA All-America Honorable Mention Jacqueline Smith returning to the lineup after missing the last seven matches, the ‘Cats were looking to get her going early and she started to heat up by mid-set, rattling off three kills in four points to push NMU ahead 15-9.
DU then went on a five-point streak to pull within one. NMU managed to jump back ahead by four at 19-15 and held strong down the stretch. With set point on the line, Lauren Van Remortel faked a set and sent the ball over the net, catching DU off guard as NMU claimed set one 25-19.
Smith paved the ‘Cats in the set with seven kills, while McKenzie Gruner and Meghan Meyer each chipped in four.
After a Smith kill for NMU’s first point, she followed it up with magic from the service line, recording a service ace and giving Davenport fits on the reception as NMU went ahead 7-2 for the second straight set.
Caylie Barlage then went on a service run, with a pair of aces kickstarting a four-point stretch to go ahead 12-3, triggering a Panthers timeout.
From there, it was cruise control to the end of the set for Northern. Blocks and aces were the name of the game in set two as the Wildcats collected seven points between the two to aide a 25-13 second set win.
The visitors came out hot in the third, jumping ahead 4-1 early on. NMU fought back and even it up 6-6, and an impressive dig from Liesl Haugen on the following point led to NMU’s first lead of the set.
From there, it was nail-biting action the rest of the way, with neither team going ahead by more than two points until Davenport achieved that task at 16-13, leading to a Northern Michigan timeout.
The ‘Cats got back even at 18-18, but DU rallied out the set, besting NMU 25-21.
The back-and-forth action carried over to the fourth set as the sides exchanged blows early on. The first timeout of the set came with the Wildcats trailing 9-5, needing to talk things over.
The Panthers continued to ride the momentum, doubling up the Wildcats by mid-set with a 14-7 score. Shortly after, the sides exchanges streaks as NMU narrowed the gap to 19-16 late in the set.
DU connected for the next three points, however, making it 22-16. Out of a timeout, NMU made it interesting at 22-19, but the Panthers closed it out, 25-20, leading to a decisive fifth set.
The Green and Gold opened the deciding set with the first three points, but the Panthers stayed the course to even things up at 4-4.
NMU jumped ahead 9-6 after the teams switched sides, leading to the first timeout of the final set.
A Remi Madison led attack closed it out for the Wildcats, 15-9.
The Wildcats will take on Grand Valley State on Saturday, September 16, with first serve set for 5 p.m.