Behind an electric crowd during Northern Illinois’ first week of class, the NIU volleyball team took down Green Bay 3-1 (25-13, 22-25, 25-12, 25-15) on Tuesday night at Victor E. Court.
“Tonight was an awesome and fun win here,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “We had great energy with our crowd here at Victor E. Court for our first week of school. We played a solid Green Bay team in their first match on the road. It’s our last match here before we go on the road for a month. I think our team responded pretty well to the (past) weekend and played at a pretty high level for a lot of the match.”
After a solid 1-2 showing against tough competition at the NIU Invitational over the weekend, the Huskies (2-2) came out firing on all cylinders against the Phoenix (1-3). NIU set the tone in a first set win with a 16-8 kills advantage and .419 to .069 hitting percentage edge, led by six kills from sophomore outside hitter MacKenzie Roddy (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon).
The only hiccup of the night came in the second set with a 22-18 lead after consecutive kills from Roddy. Freshman setter Alexis Gonzalez’s (Fresno, Calif./Bullard) serve on the next play missed and then Green Bay got the Huskies out of system for a 7-0 run to steal the second set.
Following the break, NIU came out firing again in the third set to take a 5-0 lead behind three consecutive kills from Roddy. From there, the Huskies didn’t look back as they never trailed again. NIU outhit GB .583 to .250 in the third frame and .348 to .115 in the fourth.
For the match, the Huskies owned advantages across the board – 57-38 in kills, .344-.146 in attack percentage, 51-35 in assists, 9-3 in aces, 59-47 in digs, and 12-6 in blocks.
“We passed the ball really well, played really good defense and scored when we needed to,” Gooden said. “It was great to get a win here at Victor E. Court.”
Roddy led the way with a career-high 19 kills and career-best three aces.
Senior Meghan Romo (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) was the most efficient, tallying 11 kills on 19 swings with just one error (.526). Junior middle blocker Sarah Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) was right behind Romo with 10 kills on 21 swings with only an error (.429), adding a team-high five blocks to boot.
Senior middle blocker Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem) also reached double figures with 11 kills (.333). Gonzalez came one dig shy of a double-double as she had 45 assists, three aces, three blocks and one kill.
Senior libero Amber Walker (Juneau, Alaska/Juneau Douglas/Western Oregon) led the back row with a season-high 21 digs. Junior defensive specialist Justine Schepler (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore) totaled double figures as well with 12 digs.
On deck for NIU is a 14-match road trip over a span of just 23 days. Representing 42 percent of the schedule, the excursion begins in Stockton, Calif., at the Community Bankers Classic, hosted by Pacific from Friday, Aug. 31, through Saturday, Sept. 1.
The Huskies will face Nevada at 7 p.m. Friday, Portland State at noon Saturday and the host Tigers at 9 p.m. Saturday. All times are Central.
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.