Women’s volleyball rallies after back-to-back losses in Illinois

The NKU women’s volleyball team traveled to Dekalb, Illinois for the Holiday Inn Express Invitational over the weekend. The Norse posted back-to-back losses against the University of Virginia and University of Nevada before rallying from a two-set deficit to knock off Northern Illinois University.

Game 1: NKU 2, Virginia 3

The Norse opened the tournament with a heartbreaking loss to the University of Virginia in five sets, 25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 16-25, 15-13.

Haley Libs and Miranda Wucherer opened the first set with back to back kills to take an early advantage over the Cavaliers. But a kill from Sarah Billiard helped the Cavaliers ignite a 3-0 run and maintain the lead throughout the set to roll 25-19. Libs led the Norse with six kills on nine swings, while Ashton Terrill had  six of NKU’s nine scoops in the set.

The Cavaliers were unable to replicate their offensive prowess as the Norse went ahead 20-13 midway through the second set. The Cavs  rallied back and knotted thegame at 22, but the Norse pulled away and finished the set with two kills from Libs and Kaelin Gentile. Gentile and Wucherer led with three kills apiece and held the Cavaliers to a .167 hitting percentage while clipping .600.

Much like the second, the third set was a back-and-forth affair with both teams trading the lead four times and tieing 12. The Norse tied the set at 22, but the Cavaliers gained back to back points on a service and attack error, giving them the set point. Terrill had nine digs in the back row, while Libs had five kills an ace and a block.

The Norse would quickly bounce back in the fourth and make quick work of the Cavaliers after holding the opposing team to nine defensive errors and a .032 clip. Sophomore middle blocker Peytton Bagwell led the way with four blocks and the first two kills of her career.

The Norse came out firing on all cylinders after a 5-1 run to start the final set. The Cavaliers would regroup and rattle off  a 4-0 run to tie the set at seven. Both squads would continue to trade points until Christine Jarman put the Norse away with the final kill. Libs led the set with seven kills and a hitting percentage .500 off of 12 swings.

Libs led the match with 23 kills while Terrill had her third straight 30 dig match, ending with 31. This marks the first time in recent history and in their Division I era that a player has had at least 30 digs in three consecutive matches.

Game 2:  NKU 0, Nevada 3

The Norse opened day two of the Invitational with a shutout loss to the University of Nevada, 16-25, 22-25, and 26-28.

The Norse held on for much of  the game in the first set, but a series of kills and a couple of aces from the Wolf Pack led to a 10-3 run, as they would cruise to a 25-16 victory. Offensively, the Norse struggled with only eight kills to the Wolf Pack’s 15. Bagwell led the Norse with three kills in her first collegiate start.

After switching up the rotation, the Norse started strong and gained an early advantage after an ace and a pair of blocks that resulted in a 7-1 advantage. The Wolf Pack crept their way back though and knot the game 15. Never to be deterred, the Norse gained control of the set with a couple of kills, but a pair of attack errors and aces led to the Wolf Pack’s win, 25-22.

The Norse maintained a two-point lead through most of the third set, until the Wolf Pack gained the advantage and forced the Norse into five match points before conceding, 28-26. This was the Norse’s most efficient set hitting .231.

Libs led the Norse with 10 kills while Olsen had a double-double with 12 assists and 13 digs, respectively.

Game 3:  NKU 3, Northern Illinois 2

The Norse rallied back after a two-set deficit to knock off the host team in their final match of the tournament, 21-25, 23-25, 30-28, 25-21, and 15-11.

The Huskies jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in the first set thanks to a few kills from Jori Radtke, Meg Wolowicz and Kennedy Wallace. Though the Norse would come within two points late, the Huskies would maintain the lead and finish the set 25-21, after a kill from Wolowicz.

Libs and Bailey Western helped the Norse take an early 6-2 lead in the second set, but the Huskies would mount a 4-0 run and takeover, 13-12. The Norse would gain control late in the game, but another decisive kill from Wolowicz, put the Huskies up two sets. Libs added five digs and six of the 16 total kills.

After taking a 20-13 advantage in the third, the Huskies looked to cruise past the Norse for a clean sweep. However, the Norse went on an 8-1 run thanks to two kills from Wucherer to tie the set at 21. Both squads would continue to trade points, until the Norse took the lead with a late game block to go ahead 29-28, then capped off the game to stay alive after an ace from Maddy Weber.

The Norse continued their momentum in the fourth and used an 8-1 run to take the lead, 15-7.  Though the Huskies rallied late, the Norse held them to a hitting percentage of .068 game, to push a deciding game. Libs added seven more kills and picked up nine digs to lead the Norse.

Both squads were knotted at seven to start the fifth and decisive set. The Norse would go on a 3-0 run and take the lead 13-9 after an ace from Wucherer. The Huskies would climb back and get to within two, 13-11. The Norse would have to take a timeout to regroup, but following the timeout, Western had a solo block that took the set into match point. The Norse ended the comeback when Crawford posted a kill to take the set, 15-11.

Wucherer posted her second career double-double with 13 kills, 14 digs and 33 assists. However, it was Libs that led the Norse after breaking her own Division I record with 30 kills and 34 digs. She is also 50 digs away from becoming the 10th member of the Norse’s 1,000 kill, 1,000 dig club. Her performance earned her all-tournament honors at the conclusion of the Invitational.

The Norse move to 3-3 overall and are back on the road for a one day tournament in Evansville, Indiana on Sept. 8. The Norse open up against Austin Peay University at 12 p.m. followed by the University of Evansville at 8 p.m.