Spikers fall to Big Ten powerhouse

By Marc Wesner

The NIU volleyball team’s goal of making it to the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA tournament was denied in a 15-5, 15-8, 15-8 loss to Penn State Saturday night.

The seventh-ranked Lady Lions (28-4) took advantage of a well- balanced attack to put a damper on an otherwise successful Huskie season (29-6).

“There was no lack of effort out there,” NIU head coach Pete Waite said. “It’s just a matter of when you give your best and it’s not your best day, the other team brings it right back at you. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our offense going well enough.”

Most of the problems stemmed from a lack of capitalizing on side-outs and service attempts. Overall, the Lady Lions had only two more kills than NIU (41-39), but they hit at a .304 pace while the Huskies only converted at a .156 clip.

“Every time we started coming back, they would just shut us down again,” Waite said. “They would put on a little surge and we just couldn’t keep up with it. They were in a groove and were extremely tough to stop.

“We needed to have six people running on all cylinders to have a shot at them—it just didn’t happen.”

For the match, the Huskies were led by senior middle blockers Kori Schauer and Amy Foulke.

Foulke was tops on the team in kills with 11. She also registered a .276 hitting clip while coming up with 13 digs defensively.

Schauer put 10 kills down while leading the team in hitting efficiency with a .400 attack percentage.

Junior setter Shelby Snyder chipped in 37 assists to pace the offense.

Defensively, Nikki Kozak helped the Huskies out-dig Penn State 68-62 with a match-best 21 digs.

The Lady Lions’ stats, however, were slightly more impressive.

The main Huskie killer was Zeynep Ton, who led the way with 12 kills on 19 attempts and no errors for a .632 hitting percentage. She also helped out defensively with 14 digs.

Jenny Myszewski wasn’t far behind with nine kills on 13 attempts on the strength of a .538 clip.

The Huskies did do a good job of keeping PSU’s leading hitter Laura Cook under wraps with 4 kills on 21 attempts for a .095 percentage.

As a team, PSU hit .304 with 41 kills on 112 attempts and an unheard-of seven errors. The Lions were also strong at the net with a total of 13 team blocks. The Huskies had only three.

With the close of the season, it’s time for the Huskies to say good-bye to the five seniors who have brought Waite’s squad to prominence over the past few years.

“It’s been an overall team effort, the seniors led the way, and everybody else did a great job,” Waite commented when asked about the season.

“I talked to the team to make sure they hold their heads high because they’ve done some great things. In this kind of tournament, there’s only one team that ends the season with a win.”

“It’s been an overall team effort, the seniors led the way, and everybody else did a great job.”