Playing on their home court for the first time in the conference season, the Northern Illinois volleyball team got back in the win column Friday night in Victor E. Court with a 3-1 victory over the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
The win pushes the Huskies to 10-7 overall and 2-1 in the Mid-American Conference, while EMU drops to 11-7 and 1-2 in conference. NIU’s victory was also the first in DeKalb against the Eagles since 2010.
“Great team win tonight,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “We’ve always had tough battles with Eastern (Michigan) and we knew that it would be a tough match going in. We didn’t have as much control as we wanted to have in the first set. They did a good job winning the first set, but we were able to rebound and play more consistent volleyball the rest of the match.”
Things didn’t get started smoothly for the Huskies, as the Eagles used a 4-0 run early to move ahead 6-2 on NIU. The Huskies battled back and got to within 7-6 when Emily Paschke scored on a kill. Yet, a 3-1 counter by EMU gave them another three-point lead at 10-7, only to have NIU go on a second 3-1 rally to tie the match at 11-11.
A 6-3 stretch from the Eagles gave them a 17-14 advantage, but the Huskies stayed resilient and tied things quickly back at 18-all. The two sides exchanged blows until the Eagles held set point at 24-23. MacKenzie Roddy’s kill tied things back up at 24-24 with the Huskies serving, but an Eagle kill and block back-to-back allowed EMU to claim the opening stanza.
EMU once again moved out to a 6-2 lead in the second set on NIU and even extended that edge to 10-4 before the Huskies were forced to burn a timeout. After an exchange of points made it 14-9 in favor of the visitors, NIU battled back and, with a few EMU errors and timely kills from Lauren Zielinski and Jenna Radtke, knotted things up at 16-16. That’s when the Huskies grabbed control of the set, as a 6-1 run behind kills from Sarah Angelos and Paschke coupled with an Alexis Gonzalez ace made it 22-17 NIU. That extra boost would give them the set, 25-21, and tie things heading into the break.
After halftime, NIU would not allow EMU to gain an early edge for the third-straight set. In fact, the Huskies turned the tables on the Eagles and used a 7-0 run to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 10-4 lead courtesy of two Zielinski kills, a Radtke spike and several EMU errors. The extended run proved to be vital for NIU, as their lead would lengthen to a set-high eight points midway through the third. Though EMU threatened late by getting within 21-18, it was NIU who coasted to a 25-19 set win and a 2-1 advantage. In the third set alone, the Huskies outhit the Eagles, .250-.057.
Using the momentum from the previous set, NIU stormed out to a 9-3 lead on EMU. From there, the Huskies handled the Eagles and used an unrelenting offensive attack to build a 17-10 lead. Following an EMU timeout, the Eagles used a 6-3 rally to get within 20-16. Yet, NIU’s early onslaught was more than enough en route to a 25-21 set four win to clinch the match.
Angelos paced the Huskie offense with 16 kills, while Roddy and Radtke chipped in 15 and 11, respectively. Additionally, Justine Schepler notched 26 digs on defense.
The Huskies close their weekend tonight when they host the Central Michigan Chippewas at 7 p.m inside Victor E. Court.
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.