NIU men’s volleyball

DUNBAR, Wis. – Northland International University men’s volleyball split a pair of matches Saturday at the Pioneer Center, home of a nationally-ranked basketball program.

The Pioneers, who bowed to Marquette University and defeated Concordia University-Wisconsin in volleyball, wanted to show the same focus and strong play as the basketball team.

“We have great fan support for the basketball teams and we want to play hard enough and well enough to get people in the gym in support of our efforts,” said captain Min Shik Park.

Marquette, which shares the Wisconsin Volleyball Conference Division 2 lead with Oshkosh, downed NIU 25-12, 25-18, 25-23.

“I knew it would be a tough match-up,” NIU Coach Dave Herron said. “Marquette has a good program with entry level players with high school experience,” Herron said. “They are skilled as well as strategically intelligent. We could not sustain any point production and had trouble preventing points as well.”

Jon Conover led NIU with 9 kills and 8 digs. The Pioneers only served at 86 percent with 3 aces, but also 8 errors.

NIU, one match ahead of Concordia in the standings, clipped the Falcons 25-23, 13-25, 20-25, 25-13, 16-14.

“Real good win against a tough to beat team,” said senior captain Aaron Debutiaco. “I am proud of my team and the effort expended.

Conover and Michael Hoffman paced the offense with 14 and 12 kills, respectively. Park added eight to go along with 2 aces and 3 solo blocks. Debutiaco had 39 assists, 2 aces and 5 kills. Ethan Miller had 19 digs and passed at 89 percent efficiency.

The Pioneers travel to UEW-Oshkosh on Tuesday, UW-Stevens Point on Friday and UW-Whitewater for the second WVC play-date on Saturday.