The Northern Illinois University volleyball team honored its four seniors Saturday at Victor E. Court with a resounding 3-0 sweep of the Toledo Rockets.
In the final home match for Sarah Angelos, Tori Halbur, Justine Schepler and Kayla Zeno, NIU (18-12, 10-6 MAC) outhit UT (19-11, 12-4 MAC), .296-.167, and tallied 10 blocks on the night. The night was also a big one, as junior MacKenzie Roddy became the 21st Huskie in program history to record 1,000 kills in a career.
“I thought tonight was a great way for our group and our seniors to end the regular season,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “It was an all-around solid team effort.”
With plenty of emotions in the building, the Huskies came out firing in the first set en route to building a 15-9 lead midway through the set. The catalyst in the first half of the set was a 4-0 NIU run that included an Emily Paschke solo block and an Angelos kill. The Huskie offense kept going on all cylinders against the Rockets and built an eight-point advantage at 22-14. However, UT threatened to get back into the set late by getting within 24-20, only to have Roddy close the door and give NIU a 25-20 first set victory.
The Rockets, though, retaliated with a 4-0 run to move ahead, 6-5. After trading points, the Huskies erupted midway through the set by going on an 11-2 run, which included back-to-back Angelos kills, and make it a 19-11 edge. That burst gave NIU all they needed to coast to a 25-15 win in the second set and a 2-0 match lead at the break.
In desperation mode, UT came out in the third set and quickly made it a 15-9 advantage.
The Huskies, however, got back into the set at 15-13 with a 4-0 run that included to Radtke kills and a Gonzalez ace. After Toledo got back up to a three-point lead at 20-17, NIU got three-straight points from Angelos, Gonzalez and a Rocket error to tie things at 20-20. The Huskies would get set and match point following a Gonzalez ace, only to have UT score three consecutive points and get a set point opportunity of their own.
NIU denied the Rockets the set win and instead got three more set point chances, finally winning on the third try due to a UT ball handling error.
Roddy led the Huskies with 12 spikes on the night, while Angelos also had double-digit kills with 11 to go along with five blocks. Zeno and Schepler tied for the team lead with 13 digs apiece.
NIU gets back on the court next weekend when they compete in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. They enter the tournament as the fifth seed and will face Bowling Green in the first round.
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.