The Northern Illinois volleyball team added a big win to their résumé Friday night at Victor E. Court with a 3-1 victory over the defending Summit League champion IPFW Mastodons.
The victory pushes the Huskies back over .500 to 7-6, while IPFW drops to 6-8 on the season. On paper, NIU handled the Mastodons with a .308-.220 attack percentage advantage, along with a 67-53 edge in total kills.
“Against IPFW, I thought we served pretty well, but we had to battle against them in the second set and even somewhat in the third set,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “It was nice for us to get some control toward the end. We got stronger as the match went on, so – all in all – it was a good day.”
As expected, both sides were even throughout the first half of the opening set until a 4-0 IPFW run put the Mastodons ahead, 10-7. A few points later with the tall at 12-9 IPFW, the Huskies rolled out a 5-0 run behind two Sarah Angelos kills, a Mary Grace Kelly spike and a combo block from Angelos and Emily Paschke.
The run proved instrumental as NIU kept the visitors at bay and helped build a 23-19 advantage, only to have the Mastodons go on a 4-1 rally to close within 24-23 and serving. Kelly ended any thoughts of a comeback, though, by driving home a cross-court shot to give NIU a 25-23 set one win.
NIU and IPFW were neck-and-neck at the outset of the second set en route to a 13-13 deadlock midway through the stanza. From there, the Mastodons went ahead with a 4-1 run to make the tally 17-14. The Huskies returned the favor with a 4-2 run to move within two, but – as the host had done to the visitors the set prior – IPFW held NIU at least one point away from tying the match. The Mastodons closed the door on the Huskies when, with the score 21-19, they scored four of the final five points to grab a 25-20 second set triumph.
Both sides were precise on the offensive end to open the third set, as IPFW opened a slim 5-4 lead on the Huskies.
NIU pulled ahead, 9-6, behind kills from MacKenzie Roddy, Jenna Radtke and Alexis Gonzalez, but the Mastodons countered with a 4-1 run of their own to tie the set a 10. The Huskies slid back ahead 15-11, only to have IPFW come back again to tie things at 18-18 and eventually take a 21-19 lead. That is when Kelly stepped in with a kill and a combo block with Angelos to tie the set back up at 21-all.
After exchanging points, the Huskies got the break they needed with a Kelly kill and a Paige Dacanay ace, before an Angelos kill clinched the third set for NIU, 25-23.
The close third set win set the stage for a dominant fourth set for the Huskies, as they opened up a 7-2 lead on the Mastodons courtesy of several IPFW errors. After the score became 9-4, NIU, the Huskie offense unloaded on a 12-5 run that gave Northern a commanding 20-9 lead. From there, NIU was able to coast to a 25-13 set win.
Angelos and Roddy keyed the Huskie offense with 18 and 17 kills, respectively, in addition to Kelly’s 11 and Radtke’s nine. Defensively, Roddy led NIU with 17 digs, followed by 15 from Kelly, 12 from Schepler and 10 from Gonzalez, who came just short of a triple-double.
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.