With the Iowa State Challenge tournament championship on the line, the Northern Illinois University volleyball team was unable to get on track Saturday in a 3-0 loss to Iowa State.
The Huskies (3-3) posted five service aces in the match, including four from Anna Brereton (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie). However, the Cyclones posted a .340 attack percentage to overcome the Huskies.
“We play against teams like Iowa State because we want to get ourselves into the national conversation,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “Credit to them. They did a really good job and played really well on their home floor. We learned a lot and there’s a lot of positives we can take moving forward.”
NIU fell into an early hole in the first set, as the Cyclones’ hot hitting staked them out to a 14-7 lead. A Lauren Zielinski (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist) kill and an ISU error closed the Huskie deficit to five, only for the Cyclones to go on a 6-1 run for a 20-10 lead. Not to be easily subdued, though, NIU staged a huge comeback, scoring nine of the next 11 points to get within 22-19. However, ISU held off the Huskies and claimed a 25-20 opening set win.Jenna
The Huskies carried their momentum into the second set, securing an early lead behind back-to-back service aces from Brereton. NIU’s offense kept firing en route to a 14-11 lead, which included three kills from Jenna Radtke (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson) during that stretch. The hosts returned the favor and claimed their first lead of the set at 17-16. A pair of Cyclone miscues gave the Huskies the lead back, but a 7-3 run put the Cyclones in position to escape with a 25-23 second set win.
NIU got off to another fast start in the third set, as kills from Roddy, Shelby Seurer (Delano, Minn./Delano), Roddy and Mary Grace Kelly (Strongsville, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) staked the Huskies out to an 8-4 lead. The Cyclone offense once again, though, caught fire and went on an 11-1 run to seize control of the set at 15-9. That extended run would prove to be all ISU needed, as they coasted to a 25-15 third set win to claim the sweep and the tournament title.
Radtke and Kelly each recorded seven kills in the loss, while Alexis Gonzalez (Fresno, Calif./Bullard) tallied 28 assists. Defensively, Brereton registered 15 digs and Radtke and Roddy finished with two blocks apiece.
The Huskies make a quick turnaround next week, as they head out to Cedar Falls, Iowa, Tuesday to face Missouri Valley Conference power Northern Iowa in a 7 p.m. match.
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.