SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- The Lake Superior State University women's volleyball team will open the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) portion of its 2017 season schedule this weekend (Sept. 15-16) on the road as the Lakers take on fellow Michigan Upper Peninsula schools Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan.
* 2017 Record: Lake Superior State is currently 1-5 overall and 0-0 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (GLIAC). The Lakers, who are 0-0 at home, 1-1 on the road, and 0-4 at neutral sites, this season, dropped all four of their Keweenaw Classic matches this past weekend (Sept. 7-9) at Michigan Tech's Student Development Complex Gymnasium in Houghton, Mich. LSSU fell 3-0 to nationally seventh-ranked Minnesota Duluth last Friday (Sept. 8) in its tourney opening match and then was dealt a 3-1 setback by Mary (N.D.) in its second appearance of the day. The Lakers would come out on the short end of a 3-2 decision to Bemidji (Minn.) State in Saturday's (Sept. 9) first action before concluding the tournament with a 3-1 loss to St. Cloud (Minn.) State later in the day.
- The Coaches: Lake Superior State - Dave Schmidlin (IPFW, 1999), 1st season, 1-5 (.167); Career: 7th season, 52-157 (.249). Schmidlin was named the eighth coach in LSSU program's 44-year history in March 2017. He previously served as head coach of the men's and women's volleyball programs at NCAA Division II Lees-McRae College (N.C.) for four seasons (2013-16) and spent one season (2012) as the varsity boy's volleyball head coach at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, Wis. Schmidlin held the head coaching position for the men's volleyball program at Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) from 2009-12. From 2003-06, Schmidlin served as head coach of the women's volleyball program at NCAA-I Oakland University (Mich.).
- This Week's Opposition:
Michigan Tech: The Huskies, who have won three of their last four matches to date, are currently 5-3 overall and 0-0 in the GLIAC this season. MTU, under sixth-year head coach Matt Jennings, had its three-match winning streak snapped following a 3-0 loss to nationally-ranked Minnesota Duluth last Saturday (Sept. 9) in the Keweenaw Classic finale in Houghton, Mich. The Huskies are 3-1 at home, 0-1 on the road, and 2-1 at neutral sites this season. Dave Schmidlin vs. MTU - 0-0.
Northern Michigan: The Wildcats, who are directed by first-year head coach Mike Lozier, improved to 6-2 overall and 0-0 in the GLIAC this season after posting a 3-0 win over Bemidji (Minn.) State last Saturday (Sept. 9) at the Keweenaw Classic in Houghton, Mich. NMU, winners of four of its last five matches to date, are 0-0 at home, 0-0 on the road, and 6-2 at neutral sites this campaign. Dave Schmidlin vs. NMU - 0-0.
* Keweenaw Classic All-Tourney Team: Senior outside hitter Brooke Williams was Lake Superior State's lone representative on the 12-member 2017 MTU Keweenaw Classic All-Tournament Team. Williams paced the Lakers in kills (50), kills per set (3.12), and hitting percentage (.241) in the squad's four tournament matches. Minnesota Duluth featured three selections while Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan both had two individuals apiece.
* Conference Openers: Lake Superior State is 0-4 in its last four GLIAC openers with Michigan Tech serving as the only conference opponent. Last season (Sept. 16), the Lakers suffered a 3-0 home setback after falling 3-0 to MTU on the road in the 2015 league opener (Sept. 18). Lake State fell 3-2 to the Huskies at Houghton, Mich., in the 2013 conference opening contest and then lost a 3-0 home decision to Michigan Tech in 2014 (Sept. 12).
* Team Leaders: LSSU's top three leaders in kills this season, Brooke Williams, sophomore outside hitter Amanda Reid, and junior outside hitter Jena Tulgestke, have combined to account for 58.2 percent (135-232) of the team's production. Williams has registered a team-most 50 kills while Reid has tallied 44, and Tulgestke 41 kills in the Lakers' six matches to date this campaign.
* Double Digs: Paige Gotham, who leads LSSU with 135 digs this season, has registered double-figure digs in all six Laker matches this season. The senior libero has totaled at least 24 digs four times this season, which includes a personal season-most 30 against Bemidji State (Sept. 9) at the Keweenaw Classic.
* The First: Junior setter Lauren Lukasik registered the team's first double-double of this season with 21 assists and a season match-best 16 digs versus St. Cloud State in last Saturday's (Sept. 9) Keweenaw Classic finale.
* Did You Know?: Senior middle blockers Karlee Weissend and Elizabeth Ballor along with Brooke Williams have combined to generate 65.3 percent (47-72) of the Lakers' block assists this season. Weissend has totaled a team-high 22 block assists while Ballor has 14 and Williams has contributed 11 rejections.
* Laker Notes: Amanda Reid has served up a team-most 11 aces this season while nine others have combined for 21 service aces ... Brooke Williams has posted back-to-back double-digit kills in her last two appearances, which features a career-best 18 against Bemidji State (Sept. 9) ... Lauren Lukasik chalked up a season-high 16 digs against St. Cloud State (Sept. 9) after compiling a combined 18 digs in her previous five appearances this season ... LSSU's 95 digs versus St. Cloud State (Sept. 9) represents a team season high, surpassing the 65-digs output against Bemidji State (Sept. 9) ... Senior middle blocker Elizabeth Ballor is three kills shy of reaching the 300-career mark. Ballor produced a career season-most 114 kills in 26 outings during her 2014-15 freshman season.
* Offensive Firepower Returns: LSSU welcomes back its top three kills leaders in Brooke Williams, Amanda Reid, and Jena Tulgestke, who each recorded 100-plus kills last season. Williams posted a team-high 180 kills while Reid and Tulgestke compiled 149 and 118 kills, respectively. Together the trio combined for 53.3 percent (447-838) of the Lakers' total kills production in the 2016 campaign.
* 2017 GLIAC Volleyball Preseason Poll: Lake Superior State was selected to finish sixth in the GLIAC's North Division title as the Lakers received 20 points in the 2017 conference divisional poll. Ferris State was chosen as the preseason favorite in the North Division with 121 points and 11 first-place votes followed by Saginaw Valley State (82 pts.) and Michigan Tech (76 pts.). Northern Michigan (66 pts.), Northwood (40 pts.), and Lake Superior State (20 pts.) rounded out the poll. In the South Division, Ashland was tabbed first with 98 points while Grand Valley State was second with 97 points and received the other first-place vote.
* The 2017 LSSU Roster: Lake Superior State's 2017 roster consists of six seniors, five juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen. Four of the 16 players are middle hitters, six are outside hitters, and six others fill the squad's setter, defensive specialist and libero positions. Thirteen of the team's 16 student-athletes hail from the state of Michigan.
* What Returns For 2017: Below is a look at the 2016 statistical totals of the returnees for the 2017 season and what percentage of the team totals they accounted for:
2016 Total 2017 Returning % Returning
Kills 838 830 99.0
Aces 97 95 97.9
Digs 1,158 1,127 97.3
Blocks 135.0 131.0 97.0