Volleyball clinches MAC West crown

Emily Paschke
Emily Paschke

The Northern Illinois University volleyball team defeated Western Michigan, 3-0, Thursday to clinch the MAC West Division title.

The Huskies (19-8, 12-1 MAC) powered past the Broncos (16-12, 7-6 MAC) with 42 kills, five service aces and 12 team blocks. The victory clinches NIU’s second division title in the last four seasons and the first since 2011.

“I need to give so much credit to our two seniors, Emily Paschke and Mackenzie Roddy,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden.

“While we’re still continuing our mission and we still have our goals, they were able to come in as champions and leave as champions. They have done a wonderful job in their ability for our team to play like a team and I’m very thankful for their level of commitment to our program.”

The homestanding Broncos got the early edge, opening the set with an ace en route to a 3-1 lead. A Roddy (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon) kill and an Alexis Gonzalez (Fresno, Calif./Bullard) ace, though, quickly knotted the frame at 3-3 and set off a back-and-forth battle.

With WMU leading 12-11, a Shelby Seurer (Delano, Minn./Delano) kill ignited a 6-0 run for the Huskies and put NIU ahead, 17-12. The Broncos managed to get back within three, but a kill and a block from Mary Grace Kelly (Strongsville, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) closed the door on a rally and sent NIU to a 25-16 win in the first.

The Huskies grabbed the early advantage in the second, using kills from Jenna Radtke (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson) and Roddy – along with a combo block from Gonzalez and Seurer and a Roddy solo stuff – to claim a 4-2 lead.

WMU kept pressuring the Huskie lead, but NIU repelled the Broncos and a 3-1 stretch on the way to a 17-14 lead. Yet, the Broncos rallied to take a 19-18 lead and later pushed the edge to 21-19. Back-to-back Kelly spikes tied the set at 21, while NIU took advantage of three WMU miscues to close out the second with a 25-22 win.

Anna Brereton
Anna Brereton

Out of the break, NIU raced out to a 6-2 lead courtesy of two kills from Roddy, an ace from Gonzalez and a block from Lauren Zielinski (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist). WMU battled back to get within 7-5 and 14-13, but the Huskies fended off the Broncos with a 4-0 run – courtesy of two kills from Zielinski and an Anna Brereton (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie) ace – to make it an 18-13 lead. That stretch allowed NIU to coast to a 25-15 third set win and the sweep.

“We continue our mission and continue to work towards our goals,” Gooden said. “The first part was to have a positive road trip to end the season. We want to do our best to finish strong at home.”

Roddy guided the NIU offense with 17 kills, while Kelly added 10 spikes and Gonzalez had 31 assists in the win. Defensively, Radtke had six blocks and Roddy registered four stuffs.

The Huskies return from their extended road trip Saturday when they face Bowling Green at 7 p.m. in Victor E. Court. The match will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3.

For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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