Northern Michigan volleyball team closes out spring season with sweeps

MARQUETTE – It only took Northern Michigan University junior Kellisha Harley one semester to become a first-team All-GLIAC setter for the Wildcats after transferring in from Iowa Lakes Community College.

Yet, there’s still work to be done for the 5-foot-5 Colorado native.

Both Harley and head coach Dominic Yoder know the senior-to-be’s game can be taken to another level.

“I think I know where some of my limits are, but really, I could push myself,” Harley said. “Like, if I’m way off on (one) side, I could reverse the ball and it would still be a very good attack. As far as attacking, use myself in the offense as well.”

Pushing the limits was a theme for the NMU volleyball squad this spring as it wrapped up play on Saturday with a pair of three-set sweeps at Vandament Arena in Marquette.

The ‘Cats opened the day with a 25-9, 25-21 and 30-28 victory over the NMU alumni team before capping the day with a 25-15, 25-21 and 24-13 victory over Lake Superior State.

For Yoder, it was a good end to a spring season that included victories over GLIAC rivals Grand Valley State and defending league champion Northwood, as well a battle against NCAA Division I Final Four participant Michigan, even if the Wolverines came out on top.

“They really performed well on the floor today against the alumni and against Lake Superior,” Yoder said of his spikers.

“We’re real excited about the blocking system that we’ve developed, a defensive system. They’re real scrappy, really played in-system well and out-of-system well.

“They played well at the right times to be able to close sets out and win every single one, so that’s really good for our team to do.”

LSSU nearly took the second set from Northern, leading 17-14 late before NMU rallied to tie the set at 17-17 and 18-18.

NMU trailed the third set early 6-4, but ran away late off the serve of freshman libero Alex Berger, who delivered three aces late, including the match-clincher.

Berger played throughout the fall with a back injury that eventually caught up with her after 16 games.

After missing a trip to Canton, Ohio for matches against Walsh and Malone, she made one last appearance against Finlandia before being sidelined.

Despite only appearing in 17 games, she finished fourth on the team in digs with 230. She also finished with 20 aces.

“I think the spring season has helped me out with the team, getting back into the flow of things,” Berger said. “Right now, I feel like I finally regained all the chemistry I had with the team, which is always fun.”

NMU will enter the 2013 fall season with six seniors, no juniors and six sophomores, in addition to a new freshmen class.

Note: Michigan Tech was scheduled to compete in Saturday’s NMU spring volleyball tournament, but had to withdraw due to injuries.

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. Follow him on Twitter at