A 35-minute severe weather delay to the beginning of the match did nothing to affect the Northern Illinois volleyball team‘s performance in a 3-0 sweep of New Orleans at Missouri State’s Dr. Mary Jo Wynn/DoubleTree Hotel Invitational Friday evening at Hammons Student Center.
The Huskies (5-5) climbed back to .500 on the season as the Privateers (3-4) fell under .500 in a 25-14, 25-19, 25-10 decision.
“It was good for our group to not let other things be a factor,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “We’ve been like that all year. We had a situation with Mother Nature that delayed us during warm-ups. But we kept our focus and played a solid match.”
Despite having to hang out in the tunnels of Hammons Student Center to take cover for 60-70 MPH winds that swept through in a severe thunderstorm, NIU took care of business. The Huskies racked up huge advantages in kills (50-20), attack percentage (.411-.036) and digs (42-29) over UNO. NIU’s .411 attack percentage marked the highest of the 2010 campaign.
Junior middle blocker Sarah Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) led the Huskies with 13 kills and a season-high .722 hitting percentage as she had 18 errorless swings. Fellow middle and senior Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem) wasn’t too far behind Angelos with 11 kills (tied a season high) and a .474 attack percentage.
On the outside, sophomore MacKenzie Roddy (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon) hit a season-best .500 with nine kills on 16 swings with only one error. Freshman setter Alexis Gonzalez (Fresno, Calif./Bullard) dished out 23 assists, dug up five balls, and tallied two kills (.333) and an ace.
“We took care of the ball well, which helped us get diversity in our offense today,” Gooden said. “It’s nice to continue to add more contributors offensively.”
In the back row, senior defensive specialist Sue Hayes (Evergreen Park, Ill./Mother McAuley) totaled a match-high 10 digs.
Three straight Angelos kills opened up a 9-2 first set lead for NIU and forced an UNO timeout, but the Privateers didn’t recover until the second set. With New Orleans ahead 16-15 in the second frame, Angelos came through with a kill to knot the score.
Following a kill from senior outside hitter Meghan Romo (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso), Angelos blasted another ball to put NIU up 18-16. Moments later, Romo and Angelos each scored two more times to give the Huskies a comfortable 23-17 lead en route to a 2-0 edge in the match at the break.
The third set belonged to Roddy as she started it with a kill for a 1-0 NIU lead and turned in six more as the Huskies breezed past the Privateers to end the match. Roddy went 7-for-10 on swings with no errors in the frame.
“We have two big matches tomorrow,” Gooden said. “Our group continues to learn that most of our success happens from within. We played well together today, and if we continue to build confidence on our side, we can do some pretty positive things.”
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.