Huskies split weekend series with Bulls

Senior middle blocker Kennedy Wallace and Junior setter Grace Balensiefer await an opponents attack Oct. 25, 2019.

Northern Star file photo

Senior middle blocker Kennedy Wallace and Junior setter Grace Balensiefer await an opponent’s attack Oct. 25, 2019.

By Waleed Alamleh, Sports Reporter

DeKALB — The volleyball team took on the University at Buffalo Bulls Friday and Saturday for a two-match conference matchup. The Huskies, with a record of 6-8, looked to improve their standings in the Mid-American Conference with the MAC tournament coming up in April. 


Friday: NIU 3, Buffalo 1 

NIU got back on track Friday after defeating the University at Buffalo Bulls in four sets, winning by a final of 3-1 in sets. The Huskies earned their third road win of the season in a tough contest. The team only outscored their opponents by one total point excluding errors. 

The first set of the match went to the Bulls, who were down by a score of 20-13 after the Huskies got off to a hot start. Sophomore outside hitter Kaitlyn Bell led the Huskies with four kills in the first set to go along with three assisted blocks.  

Even with the dominant play from Bell, the Bulls managed a comeback, storming back from down seven to tie the game at 23. It was Buffalo first-year outside hitter Milla Malik who iced the game for the team after she put down kills in back-to-back plays to take the first set for the Bulls. 

The Huskies regrouped for the second set, which was also a close one for the team as they narrowly pulled out the victory 25-22. The set win came off the strong play of senior middle Kennedy Wallace, getting five of her team-high 13 kills in the set,  finishing off the Bulls. 

The third and fourth sets were  where the Huskies took control of the match as they played a cleaner game compared to the Bulls. The team committed seven less errors for the sets, leading to the sets and match win. 

Junior Right side Jodee Kovanda took over the final two sets with an impressive 10 kills. The transfer player from West Florida, who only played in one set in NIU’s previous game, was a big reason for the team’s success in this match, hitting over 30% on her kill attempts. 


Saturday: NIU 0, Buffalo 3

NIU couldn’t replicate its performance from Friday’s game, as it lost to Buffalo in straight sets Saturday. The team  could not maintain a good flow of the Bulls’ serving, causing  a lot of sloppy passing for the match. 

The first set of the match was won by the Bulls thanks to the strong play of Malik with seven kills for the set. Malik’s play set the tone for the rest of the match. The Huskies couldn’t match the Bulls’ offensive play, with Wallace struggling to have a similar impact Saturday compared to Friday’s match. 

Wallace struggled on the offensive end for much of the game, only producing three kills on 17 attempts. The struggle made for a rare game for Wallace, who averages nearly 42% on her kill attempts this season, yet was held to just 17% on the day.

The second set of the match was the hardest-fought one for the Huskies, as they got off to a hot start, getting out to a 5-0 lead. The lead  didn’t last long as the Bulls stormed back to take the lead, thanks to the play of first-year right side Emma Gileas. Gileas had a game-high 13 kills in the match, including seven in the second set, giving the Bulls a five-point lead of their own at 17-12. 

The Huskies came back to tie the game at 20, until Gileas came through once again for the Bulls, scoring four points for Buffalo on kills and blocks which ultimately led to the Bulls taking the set. 

The last set was the worst of the day for the Huskies, as the team looked dejected after going down 2-0. The team played a very sloppy final set, having eight errors compared to the Bulls’ two. The Bulls’ lead got as high as 11 points in the set, which they won with a final score of 25-14. 

The Huskies’ record falls to 7-9 on the season with only five games remaining. The team returns to the court 6 p.m. Tuesday with a home matchup against the Western Michigan University Broncos in DeKalb.