By Mike Barrett, LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — With the return of students to Lake Superior State University comes the return of collegiate athletics to the Eastern Upper Peninsula.
Getting the first opportunity to make noise for Laker athletics is the volleyball team, under third year head coach Dave Schmidlin.
"We have a team of 21 this year and four of us are upperclassmen, meaning 17 are underclassmen," said Reid. "I think our job, as well as the juniors, is improvement and things for those underclassmen to keep pushing for, to keep getting better."
Joining Reid and Kane will be eleven players who have yet to hit the floor as Lakers at the college level.
As coincidence would have it, both seniors on the team are criminal justice majors. While Kane's parents are both Alumni of Lake Superior State, Reid was persuaded to explore the University former Laker coaches Mallory Larranaga and Bethany Durre. She did not decide on a concentration in law enforcement until arriving in the Soo.
The criminal justice program at Lake State has six different concentrations one may choose: Corrections, Criminalistics, Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Public Safety and a generalist option. Kane is concentrating in Homeland Security, while Reid's focus is Law Enforcement.
"When I first started out, I didn't want to do something like law enforcement, thinking I'll never be a police officer or anything like that," said Kane. "My thoughts have kind of shifted since then, but that was why I chose Homeland."
"For law enforcement, I had no idea what I wanted to do," replied Reid. "I knew I wanted to do something with criminal justice, but I didn't want to be tied down to one thing, like Homeland Security, so I went with law enforcement, which is more general and has many options."
One of the greatest challenges both women have faced in their time as student athletes is a common one: finding time to study on the road. While she says she always packs with the best of intentions, Reid admits things don't always work as planned.
"We can pack everything along to study and be prepared, but then we have morning practice and travel to the school, play and then think 'I have to play again tomorrow, I'll just put it off until Sunday.' Then it's Sunday, your body's tired, you've been travelling all weekend and you just want to sleep.
"You bring all your stuff because you're motivated, but sometimes it doesn't turn out that way."
Kane has found that reading textbooks on the bus is less than ideal, making it difficult to focus on the material. "You hit bumps and there isn't much room."
While the senior has not found many of her courses to be too challenging thus far, there have been a couple that presented difficulties in the way they were scheduled.
"I had law classes I had to take," Reid recalled. "It wasn't difficult, but there was a lot of information all at once because the class only met once a week. That year, we had night practices, so I missed class sometimes."
After starting the majority of matches her freshman year, Reid started in every match over the next two seasons at outside hitter. In the 284 sets played by Lake Superior in the last three seasons, she has played in all but five.
Last season, Reid had a team high 3.3 points per set and 2.87 kills per set. In addition to her 310 total kills (another team high), she was one of only three players to appear in all 108 sets played by the Lakers in 2018.
When asked about any goals for the season, Reid said, without hesitation, "finishing that fifth set would be really good." In their 27 matches last season, 13 of them went the distance to five sets. Lake Superior went 4-9 in those matches.
"We played 13 games that went to five sets," recalled Reid. "We were very close to winning each of those matches. It stinks because we were so close, yet at the same time, we were so close to winning every time."
A game that stands out in her mind is the 2017 season opener against Trinity International. In a season that saw her lead the team with 25 service aces, Reid picked up an astounding eight in that opening match.
Coach Schmidlin noted several games last season that both women excelled in which saw Lake Superior collect its home win in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play since a win against former GLIAC foe Lake Erie on September 27, 2014.
"Last year, there was a three week stretch against PNW (Purdue Northwest), UWP (Wisconsin-Parkside), Davenport, GVSU (Grand Valley State) and the teams we played at the Midwest Regional Crossover where I thought she was playing as well as any outside hitter in the conference," Schmidlin said about Reid. "She led us to four of our wins in that stretch, playing at a really high level."
On Kane, the coach spoke at length about her improvement over the past few years. "Her work ethic has been a great example for the new players. She gets after it at every weight room session. On the court, she is quietly competitive and sort of weird, in a good way, which rubs off on the other players. When Cait is on, she can be very good. And she's a rock star in the classroom. The best compliment I can give Cait is I see how much her teammates respect her."
Besides their play on the court, the Lakers head coach also commended the pair for how they have grown since arriving at Lake State.
"Two years ago, if you had asked me if Cait and Amanda would be our team leaders, I would say no way," remarked Schmidlin. "Since then, they have really matured and have earned my trust. They set a great example in the gym, weight room, classroom and when they participate in community service projects."
While the team is looking to continue the improvement seen last season, the two seniors have their own goal of continuing to exude a positive attitude on the rest of the team, with the hope that it will continue as the team builds for the future.
"If we lead them on the right track, then they can keep striving and going," said Kane. "If we don't care, being seniors, they'll be the same way. I feel it's very important for us to make an impact on the team as we leave."
The women's volleyball team will compete in the GLIAC/NSIC Crossover Tournament this Friday, Sept. 13 and Saturday, Sept. 14.
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