Despite being picked to place ninth overall in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference by coaches in the volleyball preseason polls, the Minnesota State Mavericks set out to win their first game against Northern Michigan University. The face-off between the Mavericks and Wildcats will begin at 6 p.m on Thursday, September 2 in Houghton, Michigan in the Keweenaw Volleyball Classic, hosted by Michigan Tech.
After missing the 2020 season due to Covid-19, each team is determined to go out and win their first game, however, only one of these two competitors will come out on top. The Minnesota State Mavericks all-time record against the Northern Michigan Wildcats is 1-6. So the Mavericks are looking to make some noise and begin to even out the playing field.
The Minnesota State Mavericks went 18-10 in the 2019 season with a conference record of 11-9. Northern Michigan had a record of 13-16 with a conference record of 8-8. Since those records were calculated two years ago, it is hard to determine how the teams will look this season.
In order to stay in shape, the Mavericks have participated in a few exhibition games including a game versus Gustavus on August 25th. Although they fell short, losing 2-3, the Mavericks were able to gain an understanding on what the next steps are to become successful.
With four returning seniors, leadership is not a problem for this team. During the 2019 season, these seniors made outstanding efforts in order to help their team succeed. Mara Quam recorded 445 digs which ranked 11th overall in the NSIC. Jane Sakowicz appeared in 76 sets and had 119 digs and 19 assists. Dana Schindler appeared in 92 sets recording 850 assists, 181 digs, and 55 kills. Micayla Porter was active in 29 sets and recorded 102 assists.
Although the leadership is there, the team had to adjust to nine new players. Covid-19 took away the first season for five sophomore players. With anticipation, four other freshman girls will be participating and helping the Mavericks take victory over Northern Michigan State.
The Northern Michigan Wildcats will be entering the season with four seniors and ten new players. They are led on offense by Lizzy Stark who recorded 400 kills in the 2019 season. Lauren Van Remortel is the primary setter for the team and has 1,085 assists.
Due to the high number of those who have not participated in the regular season of college volleyball, this upcoming game will be the main determination on how this year will go. Each team will have to get used to new ways of learning, training, and adjusting with limited time.