Volleyball loses three games in tournament

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The volleyball team comes together during Friday’s game against High Point. The Huskies lost the game 3-1. 

By Madelynn Parrott

The volleyball team opened their season Friday and Saturday with three losses when they hosted the Holiday Inn Express Invitational. The Huskies (0-3, 0-0 Mid-American Conference) faced three teams: the High Point University Panthers, the University of Dayton Flyers and the California Polytechnic State University Mustangs, dropping all three games.

The Huskies welcomed back a loud Victor E. Court that saw them win the MAC Championship in 2016. The Huskies were unable to provide flashbacks to last year as they only won two sets combined in their three games.

Head coach Ray Gooden said it’s good for the team to face tough opponents to begin the season.

“We are playing against good teams and we have a new cycle of kids who are getting an education on the fly,” said Gooden, according to NIU Media Services. “I think it is good to play against teams that are at this level, now it is about the understanding of how to do that as best as we possibly can, for as long as we possibly can.”

High Point

The team began the tournament by falling to the High Point Panthers in four sets (25-11, 23-25, 25-20, 25-19). The Huskies were led by freshman outside hitter Kaylee Martin, who recorded 12 kills and one block for the match.

The Panthers jumped out to a quick 18-4 lead in the first set before Gooden called a timeout. After the break, the Huskies made the match more competitive but ended up losing 25-11 in the set.

The Huskies bounced back in the second set and took a 25-23 victory, led by three kills from junior middle blocker Meg Wolowicz.

The Huskies got 21 combined kills from Martin and Wolowicz but lost 59-31 in that department. The team only had 10 kills outside of those two players.

The Huskies were never able to capitalize on winning the second set. The Panthers got out to quick starts in the third and fourth sets, forcing NIU to play from behind. The Huskies went on to lose the last two sets and fell 3-1 in their match against the Panthers, Senior setter Chandler Kinley recorded a double-double with 17 assists and 10 digs to go along with the 21 kills from Martin and Wolowicz.

Dayton

The Huskies were unable to pull off a victory against the Dayton Flyers for their second game of the Invitational, even after winning the first set. The Huskies were unable to capitalize and lost the match 3-1 to the Flyers (25-20, 25-18, 25-12, 25-14).

Martin added another six kills for the Huskies in the match.

“I think we can work on sighting [balls] out faster, being [more] consistent and just getting the ball [up-and-down] better,” Martin said.

NIU took an early lead in the first set and the Flyers couldn’t recover, losing 25-20. Katchen had three kills while senior libero Anna Brereton had eight digs. NIU finished the set with three straight points, including an ace from Kinley.

Freshman middle blocker Kennedy Wallace had a team-high of eight kills while Brereton had a total of 17 digs.

With the second set tied at 13, the Flyers only allowed the Huskies five points the rest of the set. A kill from Flyers senior outside hitter Jessica Sloan gave them the match, 25-18.

The Flyers took the third set hitting .586 and Sloan tallying seven more kills.

Dayton’s strong offense carried them through the fourth set giving them a 7-1 lead. The Huskies trimmed back the lead but lost the fourth set 25-14. Sloan had a total of 16 kills and the team had 11 blocks.

California – Polytechnic State

For the third match of the tournament, the Huskies lost the first two sets against the California Polytechnic State Mustangs but cut it close in the third set. The offense of the Mustangs proved too strong for the Huskies, as the match ended with a 3-0 win for the Mustangs (25-12, 25-14, 25-23).

The Huskies struggled to keep up with the fast-paced Mustang offense in the beginning of the match. Right after two consecutive aces by the Mustangs, making the score 13-4, Gooden called a second timeout for the Huskies. The team broke the streak of aces after returning to the court but was still unable to make up the deficit.

With four service errors for the Huskies and eight aces for the Mustangs, the Huskies lost the first set 25-12 .

The Mustangs continued having control during the second set and the Huskies couldn’t keep up. NIU lost 25-14 and was unable to adjust to the Mustangs offense, which had a combined total of 18 kills.

The Huskies came out from the break more fired up than before for the third set. The Mustangs were caught on their heels when Wolowicz tallied two blocks, contributing to four blocks by the Huskies. The Mustangs eventually took the set by a score of 25-14.

“They just came out more determined [and we] just tried to loosen up and really tried to focus on playing together as a unit,” Gooden said. “I think [the Huskies] saw signs of [playing together] so hopefully that’s going to be the standard for us right now.”

The Huskies kept the third set close towards the end but lost 25-23 in the third set.

The team will look for their first win of the season against the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Panthers 6 p.m. today in Milwaukee.