Huskies spilt series against RedHawks

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Volleyball on a wood court floor.

Waleed Alamleh, Reporter

DeKALB — The women’s volleyball team continued forward on its three-game win streak  against the University of Miami–Ohio RedHawks after winning the first match up of a back-to-back taking place Thursday. On Friday the Huskies fell, splitting the series 1-1.

 

Thursday

Although the Huskies had a shaky first couple of sets Thursday, the team did pull through and beat the RedHawks in a very tight five set match, winning the final set in a tight 15-11. 

The first set was very back and forth with the game being within one point up until a 20-22 lead that the Huskies took and never relinquished. The story of the set was sloppy offensive play from the RedHawks, even though they outhit NIU by three kills in the first set. 

Regardless, the RedHawks still could not overcome their own faults. Out of 37 kill attempts, the RedHawks got kill errors on seven, resulting in the lead and set for the Huskies. 

The second and third sets were very underwhelming for the Huskies. They got a combined 13 total kills in the two sets, compared to the RedHawks’ whopping 36 kills in the two sets.

The RedHawks were dominant in these sets thanks to their three headed attack by outside hitters sophomore Lindsay Taylor and junior Sophie Riemersma and right side senior Sarah Wojick. The three locked in these two sets with 31 kills combined throughout the sets. 

The RedHawks were getting in the way of NIU hitters as well, disrupting the flow of their swings for much of these two sets. The team had 11 attack errors in the second and third set, clearly getting frustrated by the defense only hitting 12.1%. 

It wasn’t until the fourth set that the Huskies really started to play like the team that got on its three game winning streak. 

The team rallied back down 2-1 in the fourth set to even it up, finally getting some offense going through outside hitter sophomore Katie Jablonski. Jablonski was dominant in the set scoring five of her 14 total kills for the game. She led the team through the deficit, staying poised to get the team to the fifth and final set. Per college ruling, the fifth set is only up to 15 points as opposed to the usual 25. 

The fifth set again came down to the RedHawks’ errors being the reason for their downfall. The Redhawks had six attack errors in the final set,along with two service faults resulting in the Huskies having to play minimal offense. The team only had six kills for the set compared to the RedHawks’ nine. Those nine kills came  on a lowly 8.7% kill percentage. This allowed the Huskies to mount their comeback. 

 

Friday

The Huskies took on the RedHawks again Friday for the second matchup of a back-back, looking to extend their four game winning streak and sweep the season series against the RedHawks. 

The RedHawks had other things in store however, as they did not want a repeat of Thursday’s sloppy play to carry over. The RedHawks played a much cleaner game and put on a dominant performance this time, as it easily swept NIU in straight sets, 3-0.

The glaring problem for this game was the seemingly non-existent offensive play from either of NIU’s top hitters. There were no NIU players who got over eight kills for the match, while the RedHawks’ top-four hitters all exceeded that. 

The first set saw the teams really going back and forth for much of the set with not much separation coming until later on in the set, when the RedHawks went on a 5-1 run putting them up 22-17. The lead grew due to the hot offensive streak led by Sophie Rimersma, who had a game high 14 total kills for the game, including five in this set and the game-winner to give the RedHawks a 1-0 set lead.

The second set showcased an upbeat amount of defense from the RedHawks as many of the Huskies’ attack setups kept being interrupted by RedHawks blocks. The team ended up getting four of their shots blocked for the set, including two more attack errors. The Huskies offense could never really get it going throughout the whole game. 

The final stat sheet shows the struggles the huskies offense dealt with as the RedHawks’ top three offensive players out hit the teams by 14 total kills. 

During the third set the Huskies continued to struggle to set up the offense,as the team looked mentally defeated with every block or hit that came their way this set. There wasn’t much of a fight put up by NIU. The team ended the third set with only nine total kills, nearly doubling up  the RedHawks 17 kills. 

After a 12-12 tie midway through the half, the team was then out-scored 13-3 by the RedHawks as their struggles finally hit a reaching point. The RedHawks easily pulled away from the game with a final score of 25-15.

NIU has now fallen to 5-7 this season and has dropped to fifth in the MAC West division. The team will look to improve its positioning with only 11 games left in the season. The Huskies need to play at the level they were at during their win streak in order to have any playoff aspirations this season, as only the top two teams from each division can make it.

The Huskies’ next match is 4 p.m. Thursday against the University of Akron at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb.