Norse snap losing streak with win over Penguins


NKU celebrates after earning a point in the game against Milwaukee

Mike Canizales, Reporter

Northern Kentucky University volleyball team (10-11 overall, 6-6 Horizon) snapped their two game losing streak by sweeping Youngstown State (25-23,25-22,25-22) Saturday evening at Regents Hall.

The Norse were led by freshman middle blocker, Kaelin Gentile who posted a career best 15 kills and tied the NKU Division I-era record for single-match hitting percentage on 20 swings with no errors for a .750 clip. Haley Libs recorded 14 kills respectively. Sophomore setter Shelby Olsen posted the lone double-double for the Norse with 40 assists and 16 digs.

“Anytime you look at your schedule and see a team that’s in last place, it’s very easy to think that you can walk in and be lazy,” said head coach Liz Hart. “For us, it was making sure we came out with energy, played hard and consistent throughout the entire match.”

Gentile had six kills and two digs as the Norse took a tough opening set 25-23. The Norse broke out to a slim 22-18 lead late through the set before the Penguins (7-19 overall, 0-12 Horizon) responded with a 5-0 run to take their first lead of the game, 23-22. The Norse would immediately respond with a pair of kills from Libs and Bailey Western followed by a set winning ace from senior outside-hitter, Drew Hendricks.

The Norse carried momentum into the second set, jumping out to an 8-1 lead. The Penguins would battle-back behind three late kills from senior outside-hitter Sam Brown, to take their first lead of the set, 22-21. Similar to the first set, the Norse would go on a 4-0 run behind kills from Western, Libs and Gentile, along with an ace from Ashton Terrill to claim the set, 25-22.

In a set that featured four lead changes and eight ties, the Norse would find themselves trailing 18-15 midway through the third. But a service ace and a pair of kills from Libs and Hendricks, helped the Norse knot the game at 18. Both teams would see-saw the lead until the game was knotted at 22. The Norse once again finished strong behind Gentile’s final kill of the match, an assisted block with Hendricks and a game-winning ace by Olsen, to close out the set, 25-22.

“Youngstown State is a great serving team,” Hart said. “I thought we did a great job handling their serves and making adjustments throughout the match.”

Youngstown State finished the match with 40 kills and a hitting percentage of .232. The Penguins were led by Brown who became the 13th player in Youngstown State history to record 1,000 career kills. Brown matched her season high with 13 kills and a hitting percentage of .444. Sarah Varcolla recorded nine kills and seven blocks. While Lauren Blanco recorded 27 digs. The most ever by a Penguin in a three-set, rally-scoring match.

“We had to turn it around tonight,” said Shelby Olsen. “We’re sitting sixth right now in conference and the top six go into the tournament.”

The Norse will travel to Milwaukee and Chicago next weekend for their final road trip of the season. The Norse will battle Milwaukee on Friday, Nov. 3rd at 7 p.m. followed by the University of Illinois-Chicago on Saturday, Nov. 4th at 5 p.m.. The games will be broadcast on ESPN 3.

“The great thing is, we control our destiny at this point,” said Hart. “We’re playing two teams that we’re battling with to get into the Horizon League tournament. So we’re ready to get back at practice and take it to them.”