For the fifth time in the last six matches, the Northern Illinois volleyball team was victorious as the Huskies (8-6) swept SIUE (4-6), 25-18, 25-18, 25-16, Friday evening at Vadalabene Center.
The Huskies trailed only once all match as they held 40-27 kills, .322-.102 hitting and 48-38 digs advantages over the Cougars.
“I thought we did a real nice job of taking care of business,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “We did a really nice job of serving tonight and played really good defense against a solid team on the road. We continue to be road warriors. We have another tough day ahead of us but it was nice for us to go out and play good, solid volleyball tonight.”
In the first-ever meeting between the two programs, the Huskies jumped out to comfortable leads in all but the third set. NIU started the first on a 10-4 run that was fueled by senior libero Amber Walker’s (Juneau, Alaska/Juneau Douglas/Western Oregon) match-opening ace. Senior outside hitter Meghan Romo (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) then fired back-to-back kills to keep NIU rolling.
In the second set, the Huskies began with a 7-3 lead after senior middle blocker Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem) served up one of her three aces on the evening and sophomore outside MacKenzie Roddy (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon) backed it up with a cross-court kill.
Trailing 5-2 to start the third, a Roddy kill, SIUE attack error and Kurisch ace tied the score. After the teams exchanged points twice, Roddy took over. The Californian scored off the SIUE block and then served up two straight aces to push NIU ahead 10-7 and force a Cougar timeout.
SIUE didn’t recover, though, as NIU ended the set on a 15-9 run.
Roddy led all attackers in the match with 12 kills on 24 swings with just one error and hit an efficient .458, adding a career-high-tying three aces to boot. Kurisch was most efficient with a .462 attack percentage, totaling nine kills on 13 swings with three errors. Romo also reached double figures in kills with 10.
Freshman setter Alexis Gonzalez (Fresno, Calif./Bullard) handed out 29 assists and had 10 digs for her seventh double-double and fourth in as many matches.
In the back row, Walker led all defensive specialists in the match with 18 digs.
NIU resumes its 14-match, 23-day road trip in Peoria, Ill. tomorrow for Bradley’s CEFCU Classic. The Huskies, who are 6-4 on the excursion thus far, will take on Long Beach State (3-5) at 11 a.m. and Bradley (6-3) at 3:30 p.m.
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.