Huskies lose to Ball State in three

Senior setter Grace Balensiefer reaches 35,000 assists, but Huskies fall to Cardinals on Friday


Courtesy of NIU Athletics

Head volleyball coach Ray Gooden coaches on his team during a Sept. 18 game against Wisconsin at Victor E. Court.

Carlos Finney Jr., Sports Reporter

DeKALB — The NIU volleyball team faced off against a tough opponent in the Ball State University Cardinals and lost in straight sets 3-0 moving the Huskies’ record to 9-9 overall. 

The first set saw Ball State get off to an early lead with a score 10-4. The Huskies went on a 6-3 run to trim the Ball State lead to a score of 13-10 almost halfway through the match. 

Ball State gave themselves some breathing room, stretching their lead to six with a score of 20-14 near the end of the match and forcing an NIU timeout. NIU battled back to make it a game, cutting the BSU lead to only two. 

A questionable attack error call gave BSU a three point lead and game point to make the score 24-21. The Cardinals won the first set with a score of 25-21 to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Ball State finished with seven blocks and NIU only hit for .073%. 

The Cardinals got off to another big run in set two, starting the match on a 10-2 run on the Huskies and a 14-5 lead midway through the match. The Huskies fought to give themselves a chance, going on a 6-2 run to see a score of 16-11. It would not be enough though as BSU went on to take momentum back and win the set with a score of 25-17. Hitting only .121% and having 6 attack errors were the keys to the Huskies losing this set. 

NIU head coach Ray Gooden spoke on what he thought were the main reasons that the Huskies got off to such a slow start in each of the first two sets. 

“For each of those sets even though, we continued to battle,” Gooden said. “We just were not able to win a share of those rallies.”

The Huskies got off to their best start of the night in the third, but still found themselves down early with BSU leading 10-8. NIU got no closer to BSU for the rest of the set as the Cardinals continued to go on short runs through the set to stretch their lead. BSU went on to win the set by eight with a final score of 25-17 to win the match. 

Freshman outside hitter Nikolette Nedic led the Huskies in kills with 11 while freshman middle blocker Charli Atiemo had 9 kills and junior outside hitter Katie Jablonski had 8 kills of her own. Senior setter Grace Balensiefer finished with 22 assists on the night and became just the fifth NIU setter with a career 3,500 assists. 

Gooden spoke on what he thought was the difference in not getting the win tonight and what needs to happen to be able to change the outcome in tomorrow’s game.

“Just more consistency, that’s all,” Gooden said. “We just were not as consistent as we needed to be and we understand that. If we can just fix some of those things I know we will compete better against Ball State tomorrow.” 

The Huskies face off against Ball State again at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Munice, Indiana.