Volleyball loses at home to Texas Tech

Sophomore setter Grace Balensiefer positions her feet for a set during warmups Aug. 30 against Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville at Victor E. Court.

DeKALB — A fifth straight loss by the volleyball team has set the Huskies to 2-6 this season, after losing at home Monday to Texas Tech University. The Huskies are now 2-2 in their last four home matches, a home-best since 2016.

The Huskies battled with Texas Tech and held their ground. NIU took the second set and lost the third by two points. 

The Huskies lost in four sets to the Raiders, 25-18, 18-25, 26-24 and 25-14. NIU had a quick turn around since their loss Saturday against the University of Missouri at the Dayton Invitational. The Huskies have only won two sets of the 14 played.

“We competed again,” Head Coach Ray Gooden said. “We did some stuff that was positive, we just have to do it for a longer period of time, especially against a very good team.”

The Huskies committed 30 errors this match, which is a season-home high and second most overall this season.

“There are different things of the game we need to improve on,” Gooden said. “One of them is to be able to maintain [composure] when being pushed. I think there are some things we did better, we just broke down toward the end.”

NIU had 48 total kills while Texas Tech posted 53. Emily Hill, Raiders’ senior outside hitter, led both teams in kills with 19. 

NIU was led by junior middle blocker Kennedy Wallace, who finished the match with 14 kills, her third best of the season. Sophomore setter Grace Balensiefer tallied 41 assists, her third best of the season.

Defensively, the Huskies were anchored by junior Libero Miranda Karlen who finished with 20 digs,  which tied for her second best this season.

Sophomore middle blocker Angie Gromos put up a wall with an NIU career-high seven blocks. Gromos’ seven blocks are the most by a Huskie this season. She has seen gradual playing time and competed in all sets which is her first time as a Huskie. Gromos added six kills to her statistics sheet against Texas Tech.

“I’m treating it no different from practice,” Gromos said. “I keep working hard and getting [out there].”

Texas Tech is the third power-five conference team NIU faced this season. Gooden said teams like Texas Tech help the Huskies prepare in ways that practice doesn’t.

“We need this experience against these teams to help us get better,” Gooden said. “We have to be able to go through [these games] and learn that [these games] are what help us.”

The Huskies will be on the road next when they travel to San Antonio to participate in the Incarnate Word Tournament. 

NIU will first play 11 a.m. Friday against the University of the Incarnate Word before a 4:30 p.m. match against Niagara University. The team will close out the tournament 11 a.m. Saturday against University of Delaware.