MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University head volleyball coach Dominic Yoder has a notable number of new faces inside Vandament Arena this season compared to 2011.
Still, the routine was the same for Yoder and the Wildcats on the first day of practice Monday with a familiar routine of blocking and floor defense drills.
"Every season, every team I've had, they've been able to score points," Yoder said Monday following the team's first practice. "We have to be able to stop teams. Floor defense and blocking are going to be a major focus this year. Just being able to control the opponents attack, that's really going to be something we're going to be challenged with."
Wildcat freshman left-side hitter Lisa Studnicka out of Aurora, Ill., delivers a kill during drills inside Vandament Arena on Monday. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Northern features eight new names on its roster in 2012, including five freshmen, two junior college transfers and one face that's fairly familiar on the Northern campus in senior Bailey Franklin - the three-time track and field All-American who has a semester of NCAA eligibility available for volleyball.
Northern lost its top two leading hitters from last season with Emma Wolfe graduating and Sami Vierk transferring to Saint Leo University in Florida. Joining Vierk at Saint Leo is NMU's starting setter from 2011, Abby Lovell.
Yoder does have back the 2010 GLIAC and Midwest Region Freshman of the Year in Lina Lopes, who third on the team in kills with 240.
Yoder is also turning to a pair of transfers to fill the gaps in junior left-side hitter Cayla Vimr and junior setter Kellisha Harley, both out of Iowa Lakes Community College.
"We're going to lead on Lina Lopes to carry a lot of the load for us as well as Sarah Hamilton and Kalli Herron," Yoder said. "We're looking for some of our transfers to step up as well as our incoming freshmen."
Northern will hold a green and gold scrimmage on Tuesday, Aug. 28 before traveling to Big Rapids for a tournament at Ferris State on Aug. 31-Sept. 1.
NMU's home opener is Sept. 25 against Michigan Tech.
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.