Volleyball falls to Ohio in MAC opening round

NIU’s season came to a close Sunday in a straight sets loss to Ohio

The+volleyball+team+huddles+during+the+first+set+of+their+matchup+on+Sept.+18+against+Wisconsin.+

Erin Barker | Northern Star

The volleyball team huddles during the first set of their matchup on Sept. 18 against Wisconsin.

Carlos Finney Jr., Sports Reporter

DeKALB — The NIU volleyball team faced Ohio University in the quarterfinals of the MAC Championship tournament Saturday, losing in three straight sets 25-15, 25-23, 25-15, to see their season come to an end.

Head coach Ray Gooden spoke on how hard his team fought to get into this position and seeing their season come to an end Sunday night.

“No matter what time of year you’re playing, coming from behind is not always ideal,” Gooden said in a Sunday NIU Athletics news release. “Our group kept battling and rallying. We knew we owed Ohio a good match, but credit to Ohio for giving us a little respect and playing a higher level of volleyball than we were able to tonight. It doesn’t take away from what we were able to do to get ourselves in this position. We had a really good run at the end of the year after a tough stretch at the beginning and came together as a team.”

In the first set, Ohio took a 10-5 lead and kept separation between themselves and the Huskies for the rest of the set. The Bobcats led by as much as 10 at one point and that would be how much they won, with the final score of 25-15 in the first set.

In the second set, the Bobcats once again had the lead early, taking charge 8-4. The two teams traded points back and forth throughout the match with neither team making a run to take momentum. The Huskies, however, went on a 3-0 run late to trail by just one point with a score of 22-21. It wouldn’t be enough as the Bobcats went on to win the set with a score of 25-23. 

In the third set, the Bobcats had control and led again with a score of 9-7. Every time the Huskies tried to get momentum, the Bobcats answered with a couple points of their own. In the middle of the set, the Bobcats went on a 6-0 run to stretch their lead to 10 with a score of 23-13. The run catapulted them to another set win to seal the match with a score of 25-15. 

Junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Bell led the Huskies with seven kills, while fellow junior outside hitter Katie Jablonski with six kills of her own.

The Huskies finished the season with a final record of 16-13, the most wins since their 2016 season when they had 25 wins and won the MAC championship.