The Northern Illinois University volleyball team completed its homestand on a high note Saturday at Victor E. Court, taking a hard-fought 3-1 win over the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks.
NIU (15-11, 7-5 MAC) trailed in many statistical categories against Miami (10-14, 2-10 MAC). However, some well-timed hitting and a few RedHawk errors proved to be the difference for the Huskies.
“Tonight, we were again reminded of how tough it is to play in our league,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden.
“With records, you throw them away. Miami’s a good team and they do a lot of good things. We had to earn a lot of points to be successful. I thought we did well in the first set having control and being aggressors. We slipped off after that, but it was good for our team to be able to play good, consistent volleyball towards the end.”
NIU got out of the gates fast with kills from Sarah Angelos, Mary Grace Kelly, Alexis Gonzalez and MacKenzie Roddy to claim a 6-2 lead, forcing an early Miami timeout. The Huskies would stretch that lead to 9-4 before the RedHawks embarked on a 7-2 rally to knot the opening set at 11-11.
Yet, NIU denied Miami the lead and moved back ahead, 16-13, following from RedHawk miscues and an Angelos kill from an overpass. The Huskies continued to take advantage of sloppy Miami passing, as Roddy and Jenna Radtke would also get kills off overpasses, making the tally 19-15 NIU. Despite a late threat from Miami, the Huskies closed out the set with a 25-19 win.
In the second, Miami hung with the Huskies and, with the match tied at 7-7, outscored NIU, 6-2, to move ahead, 13-9, and force a timeout. NIU retaliated with a 4-0 run to knot the set at 13-13 behind timely defense and solid serving from T’ara Austin. Yet, Miami used a 4-0 run of their own to reclaim the lead at 17-13. That counter helped the RedHawks set the tone for the remainder of the set, as they coasted to a 25-17 victory and a 1-1 halftime deadlock.
Coming out of the break, both sides went back and forth all the way up to a 17-17 tie. The Huskies broke that tie with a Roddy kill, but Miami got the next three points to move ahead 21-18 and take all the momentum. However, beginning with an Emily Paschke kill, the Huskies ran off five-straight points to move ahead 23-21. After Miami got to within 23-22 and 24-23, Kelly ended the set with a kill that just landed inside the line to give NIU a close 25-23 third set win.
The RedHawks continued to keep things tight with the Huskies in the fourth set, as each side traded jabs in what became a 13-13 tie. Back-to-back Miami points gave the visitors a 15-13 edge, only to have Kelly and Roddy score kills on the next two points to tie the set back up at 15-15.
After neither side could break away, a Paschke kill and a Miami error gave the Huskies a 21-19 lead and plenty of momentum. The RedHawks, though, used three consecutive points to slide back ahead by a 22-21 margin and force a Huskie timeout. Following the quick breather, NIU finally brought Miami down, as they scored four of the final five points – including the set winner from Kelly – to eke out another 25-23 set win.
Kelly paced the Huskie offense with 16 kills on the night, while Roddy and Angelos contributed 15 and 12, respectively, in the win. Additionally, Paschke finished with seven kills and a team-high .538 attack percentage. Justine Schepler led the Huskies with 23 digs on defense.
The Huskies take their final road trip of the 2013 regular season this weekend, as they head to the Great Lakes State to battle Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan. The trip begins in Mt. Pleasant Friday with a 6:30 p.m. CT tilt with the Chippewas, followed by a Saturday 6 p.m. CT contest against the Eagles.
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.