CHICAGO—A weekend at the Loyola Invitational did not end as expected for the NIU volleyball team.
While NIU defeated Loyola 15-13, 11-15, 15-7, 15-10 Friday, the Huskies lost the championship game to Illinois-Chicago Saturday 15-9, 15-4, 15-6.
The match against Loyola was an important win for NIU because it sent the team to the winner’s bracket Saturday. Even though the Huskies won the first game of the Loyola match, Coach Herb Summers was not fully impressed with his squad’s showing.
“In the first game, we were lucky to win,” Summers said. “We had made some bad errors, and Loyola had a good defense.”
Loyola’s good defense combined with NIU’s unproductive offense paved the way for the Ramblers’ win in the second game. NIU was ahead by three points at 10-7, but Loyola served four unanswered points to take the lead 11-10.
“In the second game we just stopped hitting,” Summers said. “We were very timid while they were tentative. In the third game we started ripping the ball like we can, and it brought our confidence back.
“Alice McAvoy and Kari Niesen did a good job coming off the bench for us in the third game. Kari put every swing away.” NIU’s confidence in the third game carried over to the fourth to give the Huskies their win. Freshman Julie Kreiling served five straight points for a score of 14-7 in the third game to boost the momentum for NIU. Junior Cathy Holmes had a string of four serves in the final game to end the match.
“Both Julie and Cathy had a good string of serves in the last two games.” Summers said. “Julie has been struggling with her game, but even though she has trouble with one part, she still works hard on other parts.”
While NIU pulled out a victory over the Ramblers, the Huskies “never got into the game” against the Flames. After NIU’s win over Loyola, the players and coach were confident of defeating UI-C, but things did not go as they hoped.
“Physically, we were ready to play,” Summers said. “We just got beat. We really struggled. We just didn’t play well. I wish we would have played better.”
Summers said one reason for the loss was the 12 service aces the Flames tallied.
“Over and above the service aces we didn’t pass well or block well,” Summers said.
The Huskies, who now are 9-6 for the season, will play at home Tuesday against Illinois State.