The Northern Illinois University volleyball team put on an offensive clinic Thursday night at Victor E. Court, as the Huskies sank the Western Michigan Broncos, 3-1.
NIU (14-11, 6-5 MAC) tallied an impressive 68 kills and a .315 attack percentage against WMU (13-11, 6-5 MAC), while holding the Broncos – one of the conference’s best offensive units statistically – to a pedestrian .230 average.
The victory also gives the Huskies the season sweep over their MAC West rivals.
“It was a great team win tonight,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden.
“We did things that allowed other things to happen. We had really good transitions that allowed our servers to continue serving. We handled the ball well enough so our hot hitters could be even hotter and our setter could run her offense. We set up good blocks so we could either touch the ball or have really good defense. Those are the things that we like to see because it helps our team continue to build.”
In front of an energized home crowd, the Huskies staked out an early 4-2 lead with kills from Sarah Angelos, MacKenzie Roddy and Mary Grace Kelly. WMU responded with a 5-0 run, though, to move ahead 7-5. NIU tied it back up at 9-9 following a combo block from Jenna Radtke and Kelly.
The two rivals went back-and-forth until the Broncos got a block and kill to move up, 22-20. An Angelos kill got the Huskies back to within one, but WMU closed out the Huskies to take a 25-22 set one win.
NIU again got out to a fast start, this time to the tune of an 8-2 edge to force a Bronco timeout.
After building the lead to 12-4, the Huskies looked like they would be able to breeze to an easy set win. However, WMU battled back and got to within 21-19. The Huskies, though, had other plans when Kelly and Angelos combined to get kills on three of the next four points to give the home team a 24-20 lead. Angelos clinched the set with a kill and the Huskies knotted the match up at 1-1 with a 25-21 set two win.
Following the intermission, WMU flipped the script and took a 5-2 lead on the Huskies early in the third set.
Yet, NIU battled back and turned a 12-7 deficit into a 13-13 tie with solid attacking from Angelos, Roddy and Radtke. After the Broncos used a 3-0 run to reclaim a 16-13 edge, the Huskies persevered and, trailing 20-18, used a 5-0 run to give them a 23-20 advantage. Once WMU ended that run, Alexis Gonzalez and Roddy clinched the set with back-to-back kills for a two-sets-to-one lead.
The Huskies left little doubt who had the hot hand in the fourth set, racing out to a tremendous 10-2 lead – capped by back-to-back service aces from Gonzalez – that forced the Broncos to burn both timeouts for the set. From there, NIU put their offense on cruise control, as the offense would finish with a .441 hitting percentage for the set en route to an easy 25-17 fourth set victory to take the match.
Four Huskies finished the night with double-digit kills, as Roddy (18), Angelos (16), Kelly (12) and Radtke (11) highlighted an impressive offensive performance for the Huskies. Meanwhile, Gonzalez dished out a season-best 54 assists and Justine Schepler recorded 22 digs across four sets.
NIU caps off their four-match homestand Saturday when they host the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks at 7 p.m.
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.