Volleyball team starts on right note, but drops two matches

By Ben Gross

It was a bittersweet weekend for the NIU volleyball team.

The Huskies began both matches by posting their top two hitting percentages of the year (.519 and .485), leading them to game one victories.

But the Huskies could not continue the success of game one into this weekend’s contests as NIU lost both matches.

The Huskies (11-13, 4-6 MAC) began the weekend with a 30-21, 31-33, 30-20, 18-30, 10-15 loss against Kent State (17-14, 3-7).

Things looked brighter for the team Saturday, as NIU handed No. 22 Ohio (20-2, 10-0) its first loss in a single MAC game this season. With a final score of 30-27, 17-30, 20-30, 18-30 though, a match win evaded NIU.

The Huskies performed at an excelled level in individual games, but consistency seems to have eluded the team.

“We win games real big and then blow it,” NIU coach Ray Gooden said. “It’s the continuing saga of our team.”

The Huskies’ loss to Kent State Friday marked the end of a four-game slide for the Golden Flashes.

“We feel good about getting the win,” Kent State coach Mora Kanim said. “Any time you can get a road win its an excellent feeling.”

Junior middle blocker Kate McCullagh led the Huskies offense with 23 kills.

Fellow middle blocker Corinne Walsh and outside hitter Amy Ward also posted 13 kills in the NIU loss.

Ward admitted she felt the Huskies allowed the match with Kent State to slip through their hands.

“We could have ended it in three games,” Ward said. “We had our opportunities, it’s just about finishing it when we have the chance.”

With the sour feeling of a game five loss still fresh, the Huskies played point-for-point battle in game one against Ohio.

Although the Huskies delivered a game one victory, the Bobcats came back with devastating runs and an intense defense that hindered the Huskies offensive attack.

McCullagh lead the team with a total of 16 kills while Ward was second with 13 kills. McCullagh recorded six of those kills in game one, and Ward had five.

“In game one we scared them with our swings, we didn’t do that in games two, three, and four,” Gooden said.

Freshman setter, Jenny Dziubla, felt the team came out with an intense focus, but it was lost somewhere in the night.

“I think we started by playing well, and then Ohio started to read what we were doing,” Dziubla said. “We relaxed a bit, and we just can’t do that.”

These points of relaxation by the Huskies turned into large scoring runs for the Bobcats. Although the Huskies had momentary lapses, Ward believed the team sees it has to potential to be a dominating force with in the MAC.

“You wouldn’t think we were losing by the way we were playing,” Ward said. “If we play like this all the time, we’ll be beating the teams we need to.”