The loss dropped the Bison squad to 5-8 in the Summit League and 7-17 overall. The victory for Western Illinois gave them their first Summit League win and second win overall.
The first set never saw a lead greater than four points. The teams exchanged points all the way up to a 24-24 tie. A kill by Leathernecks sophomore Emma Norris followed by an attack error by NDSU’s Alexis Bachmeier gave the first set to Western Illinois.
The second set was more of the same from the two teams. Only twice in the first 27 points did either team claim consecutive points. Both instances fell in favor of the Bison. The first came off two errors from the Leathernecks, the second off back-to-back kills from Bachmeier and Emily Halverson.
The visitors drew back to tie at 23. Another kill from Bachmeier pushed the Bison to set points. The sophomore turned provider on the next point to set up Bella Lien’s kill, as the Bison avoided another 0-2 hole.
Western Illinois got out to a 4-1 lead in the third set and nursed that lead throughout. The largest gap that the Leathernecks could muster came at 14-8. NDSU answered back with a 4-0 run. Ally Murphy bookended the run with a pair of kills to bring the Bison within two.
Halverson later tallied a kill and an ace to get the Bison to within one, but the host could never tie the set.
Going into set four, it was do or die time for NDSU. There was noticeable tension in the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse. Unfortunately, it was simply not the Bison’s night.
The Leathernecks sprinted out to a 9-2 advantage that was too much for the Bison to overcome. Western Illinois took the set 25-19 to take the match.
The positives of the game revolved around Bachmeier. The sophomore registered her seventh double-double of the season with 12 kills, a team high, along with 14 digs. The outside hitter also added a career-high seven blocks.
Halverson joined Bachmeier with double-digit kills, ending the night with 10.
The loss gives the Bison a chance to self-reflect. NDSU had a quick turnaround by hosting Purdue Fort Wayne Sunday afternoon for Senior Day.
The match on Sunday closed the home slate for the Bison this season. NDSU head on the road for matches against Oral Roberts and South Dakota next weekend to end the regular season.
The Summit League Championships will be held in Denver, Colorado on Nov. 16-18.