NIU men’s volleyball

DUNBAR, Wis. – Northland International University men’s volleyball team ended its regular season with a 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19) loss to Michigan Tech at the Pioneer Center.

It was the final home match for senior starters Jon Conover, Michael Hoffman and Aaron Debutiaco.

“All three of these young men have contributed greatly this season and will be hard to replace,” said NIU Coach Dave Herron.

Debutiaco is a four-year starter while Conover and Hoffman are first-year players.

“Aaron’s position will be really hard to replace,” Herron said. “Aaron is focused, fervent and ferocious at times and I have really enjoyed coaching him.”

NIU began the evening with a hope to find rhythm for this coming weekend’s Wisconsin Volleyball Conference state tournament at UW-Oshkosh. The Pioneers will enter as the No. 7 seed in a 10-team tournament.

“They did a better job of converting points at the net and really defended our middles well,” Debutiaco, a senior captain, said of the MTU match. “We gave a good effort but they were a bit more skilled.”

Conover led the attack with 9 kills, followed by Hoffman with 6. Debutiaco tallied 25 assists and 2 aces. Minshik Park had 5 kills and 2 blocks.

“We don’t have the experience or ability that we have had in the past,” Herron said. “We just want to finish higher than our seed and play strong. To do less would not meet our goal.”

The Pioneers are in a tourney pool with Oshkosh, Whitewater and Superior.