Volleyball not enough for South Dakota and Bradley, open MAC Friday


Senior setter Amanda Krahl jump sets junior middle blocker Kennedy Wallace Aug. 30 in a 3-1 loss to Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville.

By Justin Kelley

DeKALB Two three-set losses plagued the volleyball team when it participated in the Bradley University tournament, losing 3-0 Friday to University of South Dakota, and 3-0 Saturday to the Bradley Braves.

The Bradley tournament was the last of the Huskies’ non-conference play, pinning the team at 3-11. This season is an improvement from last year’s non-conference record of 2-13.

“There’s a lot to take from all the matches in the non-conference season,” Head Coach Ray Gooden said to NIU Athletics. “It’s now time to put all of that into action as we prepare for conference play.

The Huskies are now in a winless drought, with four straight losses, each in three sets. The last time the team endured four or more sweeping losses was in 2017, when the Huskies lost six matches, all in three sets.

NIU will open Mid-American Conference play 6 p.m. Friday when it hosts Central Michigan University at Victor E. Court. The Huskies will be back on the court 6 p.m. Saturday against Eastern Michigan University.

South Dakota

The Coyotes pounced on the Huskies early in the match, taking the first set 25-14 with a hitting percentage of .556. On the other side of the net, the Huskies struggled offensively with a hitting percentage of .172.

South Dakota was led by senior outside hitter Elizabeth Loschen with a perfect hitting percentage and four kills. NIU received contributions from junior middle blocker Kennedy Wallace, with four kills and a hitting percentage of .800.

The momentum started to shift for NIU at the beginning of the second set, after scoring the opening three points. The team’s lead was short-lived as the Coyotes bounced back on an attack error on sophomore setter Grace Balensiefer 17-16.

SDU went on to win the set 25-20. First-year outside hitter Elizabeth Juhnke led the way for Coyotes in the second set with five kills and two assists. NIU’s top performer was Wallace with four kills, while junior libero Miranda Karlen had four digs and one ace.

The Coyotes closed the match with a final set victory, 25-19. SDU was led by junior outside-hitter Sami Slaughter with four kills. NIU struggled in the set, posting a match-low hitting percentage of -.026 and eight attack errors.

NIU received contributions from Wallace and first-year outside hitter Peyton Tilly, with two kills each in the set.

The Huskies’ next match is 2 p.m. Saturday against Bradley University at the Renaissance Center in Peoria, Illinois.


The Huskies struggled with errors throughout the match, posting 21 total. Offensively, NIU lacked effectiveness, and finished the match with a season second-lowest .085 hitting percentage.

The Braves lead the match in most offensive categories, scoring more points with 60, more kills with 48 and more assists with 43.

Rachel Pranger, Bradley sophomore outside hitter, posted a match high 14 kills, her third best of the season. 

Wallace posted a team-high 8 kills for NIU while Balensiefer finished with 22 assists, three less than Braves’ senior setter Hannah Angeli.

Set one was a back-and-forth battle, but the Braves were able to create seperation halfway through four-straight points. Wallace had an attack error to kick-off Bradley’s run that put it up 17-14. After a Huskie timeout, Lida Kastanou, Bradley redshirt sophomore right side, committed an error to give NIU a point back.

Bradley went on to take four of the following five rallies, setting the Braves up at 21-16.

Junior middle blocker Jasmine Kemp got one point back for the Huskies before junior right side Sara Maddox started the beginning of the end. After Maddox’s kill, Bradley earned its remaining three points to close the set.

The Huskies started the second set strong, taking the opening five points, including two kills from Wallace. The set was neck-and-neck, with neither team gaining more than a three-point lead, until the Braves jumped out with four consecutive points at 19-23.

Tilly got one point for NIU, before an attack error by Wallace gave Bradley its match point. Pranger ended the match with a service ace, closing the set 25-20.

Set three was completely dominated by Bradley. The Braves led 16-4 before a Huskie timeout helped NIU break the misery. The teams traded points in the following 11 rallies, with NIU taking 6. The Braves took four of the following seven rallies to close out the match 25-13. Tilly led the Huskies with two kills in set three.