Bison Volleyball Struggles at Ball State

Coming off their second win of the season, the North Dakota State volleyball team traveled to Muncie, Indiana for three games in the Active Ankle Challenge. Up against stern competition for the second weekend in a row, the Bison dropped all three games.

Friday opened up against Indiana University of the Big Ten Conference. The Bison started slowly, but made it interesting down the stretch before ultimately losing to the Hoosiers 3-1 (25-9, 22-25, 25-19, 25-15).

After the sides swapped the first 10 points, NDSU offered little resistance. Indiana outscored the Bison 20-4 down the stretch of the opening set.

The Bison struggled to hit, tallying a measly four kills on 36 attacks. Sophomore Alexis Bachmeier was the only Bison to have more than one kill in the set.

In the second set, fortunes turned quickly for NDSU. The set was back-and-forth, with neither team securing a four-point run until late.

Out of the blocks, the Bison offense started firing. Sophomore Allie Mauch, senior McKenzie Burke and sophomore Emily Halverson each had two kills before the Bison took an 8-5 advantage.

The lead for either team was never more than three until NDSU strung a four-point run following a 15-15 tie. Mauch registered her fourth kill of the game, and Indiana followed with three consecutive attack errors.

The Hoosiers fought back with a three-point run later to close the gap to 24-22, but freshman Kirstin Tidd killed the set on her second kill of the game.

Indiana took control from there, taking a pair of three-point runs in the first 10 points of the third to create breathing room. Kills continued to rack up for the Hoosiers in a five-point run to really open up the game.

NDSU chipped away at the lead. Bachmeier tallied a pair of kills, and freshman Kalli Hegerle added a kill and an ace as part of a 5-1 run.

Freshman Kaylee Hanger brought the Bison to within two at 17-19, but NDSU failed to get a kill the rest of the set as the Hoosiers went on to claim the third.

The fourth set started off close, but Indiana’s hot attack got rolling with five kills in seven points on a 6-1 run in the middle of the set. Once again, the Bison chipped back with another kill from Mauch and a kill plus an ace from Hegerle, separated by an Indiana attack error.

That four-point run brought the set to 13-16, but momentum stalled for the Bison after a Hoosier timeout. A 9-2 run followed for the Big Ten team to take the match.

Mauch finished with 13 kills in the match, followed by 11 from Bachmeier, who recorded her third “double-double” of the season, adding 10 digs as well.

NDSU followed the morning action up in the nightcap Friday against hosts Ball State. NDSU started slowly again, but this time never recovered in losing 3-0 (25-10, 25-21, 25-16).

The hosts jumped out to an early 6-2 lead in the first set and never looked back. Meanwhile, the Bison attack was sputtering with Mauch the only Bison to gain a kill in the first 30 points. Tidd struck her solo kill in the set with the Bison trailing 22-8.

Mauch’s third kill of the set was the first time NDSU scored consecutive points, but Ball State ended the set on the next point.

The Bison took a lead in the second set thanks to a 6-2 run. But as was the course of night, it was not due to the offense. Other than a Mauch kill, the rest of the points came off errors from the Cardinals.

A string of three straight attack errors for the Bison kicked off a seven-point run for Ball State. Trailing 15-20, freshman Maggie Steffen’s kill started a four-point run for the Bison. NDSU could never retake the lead, and the hosts went up 2-0 on the night.

Ball State would never allow the Bison a lead again. The hosts jumped out to a 8-2 lead in the third that the Bison couldn’t overcome. NDSU got within three, following kills from Halverson on either side of an ace from freshman Ally Murphy.

The Cardinals went on a 5-1 run to restore the gap and maintained their lead until closing the match with a five-point run.

Mauch with 11 kills was the only Bison with more than five kills in a bad game for the Bison offense. NDSU committed more attack errors in the match than they did kills.

Some of the woes went away, and the offense was more balanced on Saturday, but it was not enough for the Bison against Northern Iowa. The Panthers’ attack was firing as NDSU left Muncie without a win, losing 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-15).

The two teams traded points early, but UNI got the better part of the exchanges, opening a slim 9-7 lead. It was the Panthers who had the first run of the game, securing four straight points. NDSU responded with three points of their own with kills from Mauch and Bachmeier.

UNI went on the longest run of the set with five in a row to take the opening set.

The pattern was similar to start the second set, but this time in the Bison’s favor. A three-point run gave the Bison a 10-6 lead.

That lead held until UNI went on a six-point run to take the lead. Bachmeier, Halverson and Hegerle made it interesting with kills in a four-point Bison run, but it was all for naught as UNI took the set.

The third set stayed close early, with the Panthers clinging to a two-point lead in the early going. The No. 7 ranked team in the mid-major poll went on a five-point run that put the game out of reach for the Bison. Another four-point run set up match point for the Panthers, which they claimed after being delayed by a Halverson kill.

Mauch led the Bison again with seven kills on the afternoon, followed by six from Bachmeier.

NDSU finished the weekend with a record of 2-8, as the schedule fails to get easier. A trip out to North Carolina to face the Tar Heels before heading to Duke is set for next weekend. The Bison return home the following weekend for homecoming week with matches against South Dakota on Friday and Omaha on Sunday.

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