NIU volleyball

DUNBAR, Wis. – Northland International University men’s volleyball team entered the second playdate for the Wisconsin Volleyball Conference at UW-Oshkosh on Saturday.

The Pioneers came into the second round looking for their first win after coming out 0-3 from the previous round at Northland last Saturday.

Coach Dave Herron’s team is making incremental improvements dealing with a lack of experience and skill prerequisite to this point.

“I really don’t believe we are trying to do the wrong thing,” Herron said. “I just have to get players to try harder to do the right thing. Some of that is duplicating match speed in practice and learning the right muscle memory on the player’s part.”

The Pioneers began the day with UW-Oshkosh II a favorite in the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation Division 2 rankings. The host Titans took this match 3-0 (25-13, 25-11, 25-11.

NIU could not produce points or prevent points well enough to be competitive. Ethan Miller, the NIU “Libero,” was challenged in serve receive and defense and was the most consistent player in this match.

The Pioneers had a match right after this with Marquette University and responded in the first set with an 18-7 and 20-11 lead. Marquette sided out and then served NIU off the court with a 9-0 run of their own and taking the momentum with a 25-23 win.

Set two went to Marquette, 18-25, as well as the NIU offense was not consistent enough to stay in the set. A change in the lineup did not affect play positively and NIU lost the third set, 11-25.

The third match of the day was with winless UW-Parkside, a new team in the conference. Parkside had a very efficient setter and a very good outside hitter in Adam Salinas. Brent Heckel ran an efficient offense and Salinas hit the ball at will against the ‘swiss cheese defense’ of the Pioneers. UWP took the match 3-0 (25-10, 25-15, 25-21).

“I know my players want to win, but we need to learn how to compete before we can even think about that,” Herron said. “At times we are like assassins with squirt guns. We pull the trigger but don’t do any damage.

“I need my experienced players in Min Shik Park and Jay Hale to take the lead and produce. I will not give up on this group.”

NIU hosts UW-Oshkosh at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Pioneer Athletic Center.