Volleyball eliminated from NIVC

By Zane Miller and By Zane Miller

The Falcon volleyball team fell to the Green Bay Phoenix three sets to two Thursday night, eliminating the Falcons from the Women’s National Invitational Volleyball Championship.

The team made their way into the tournament after being knocked out of the Mid-American Conference semifinals by the Western Michigan Broncos back on Nov. 18.

The team got off to a rough start in the first set, falling behind 12-1 at one point, and while they were able to come back significantly, Green Bay was able to hold on to take it 25-21. The second set was much more even, as the teams went back and forth throughout. However, Green Bay took it as well 32-30, giving them a 2-0 advantage going into the locker room.

“I think our team didn’t step on the court prepared to compete,” Falcons head coach Danijela Tomic said. “I felt like we had some players who were ready, but we knew from day one of the season that, for us to be successful, we needed all six players on the court to play as well as they could, and that didn’t happen in those first two sets.”

However, the Falcons were able to turn things around after the break, as 12 total attack errors by Green Bay in the third set, along with six kills by senior outside hitter Nicole Slimko, allowed the team to take it 25-18.

“We made less unforced errors (after the second set),” Tomic said. “We started serving more and kept Green Bay a little more out of system, they started making more errors, we just started playing better as a team. Our blocking was outstanding, it kept us in the match. Green Bay played some unbelievable defense, but we just started playing better.”

The fourth set also went the way of the Falcons, as they took it 25-16, setting the teams up for a fifth set.

In the fifth, the teams were mostly even through the first part of the set, however, key kills by junior outside hitter Isabel Kovacic and sophomore outside hitter Jessi Holly, along with a service ace and an attack error allowed the Falcons to go up 12-9. While Green Bay came back with two kills of their own, Holly got another kill to restore a two point advantage. However, Green Bay would get a three point rally to take the lead, but the Falcons would tie it up on a service error, forcing the winner to take a two point lead. However, Green Bay would quickly take the victory on a bad set and an attack error to take it 16-14 and advance to the next round of the tournament.

Despite the loss, senior outside hitter Nicole Slimko had an exceptional game offensively, with 16 kills in her final collegiate match.

“I’m so proud that she had the senior year that she had and she played well in her last match,” Tomic said. “It was the hardest loss for her, because it was the last collegiate match that she was going to play.”

The team is also optimistic to be able to build on the playoff performance for the 2018 season.

“I think this will be a great learning experience for our team,” Tomic said. “Next year, hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to play in the postseason and this experience will make us better and stronger for the future.”