Volleyball falls in five to Eastern Michigan

Seniors Emily Paschke (18) and Mackenzie Roddy
Seniors Emily Paschke (18) and Mackenzie Roddy

The Northern Illinois University volleyball team celebrated Senior Night Saturday, but it was Eastern Michigan who spoiled the festivities by dealing the Huskies a 3-2 loss.

In the final home match for Mackenzie Roddy (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon) and Emily Paschke (Winfield, Ill./West Chicago Community), NIU (21-9, 14-2 MAC) was limited offensively to a .191 attack percentage and one service ace by the Eagles (18-12, 9-7 MAC). It was also the first home loss for the Huskies since Aug. 30.

“It was a tough one tonight against a team we know battles a lot in Eastern,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “Credit to them, they did a great job just as the last time we played them in Ypsilanti. The lessons learned now will help us in the MAC Tournament. IT’s going to be a battle there all next week.”

Things went the Huskies’ way at the start, as three Roddy kills and a Shelby Seurer (Delano, Minn./Delano)/Roddy block put NIU out to a 4-1 lead. Yet, EMU answered back with a 7-2 run and move ahead, 8-6. Spikes from Lauren Zielinski (Oak Forest, Ill./Marist), Paschke and Mary Grace Kelly (Strongsville, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) got NIU within 11-10, but a 6-1 stretch from the Eagles pushed the visitors’ advantage to 17-11 as they cruised to a 25-14 victory in the opening stanza.

The bad luck for NIU continued in the second set when the Eagles flew out to a 9-5 lead. Seurer, Roddy and Paschke helped the Huskies claw back to within two at 11-9, only for EMU to counter with a 4-1 run of their own for a 15-10 lead at the media timeout. Despite an Anna Brereton (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie) ace to put the deficit at 15-12, the Huskies could only trade points with the Eagles, who closed the frame on a 7-1 run to claim a 25-16 win and a 2-0 lead at the intermission.

Lauren Zielinski
Lauren Zielinski

The Huskies embarked on the comeback trail early in the third set, using kills from Jenna Radtke (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson), Roddy and Alexis Gonzalez (Fresno, Calif./BullarD) coupled with a block by Gonzalez and Radtke to stake a quick 6-1 lead. EMU was able to cut the lead down to three at 9-6, but NIU’s newfound offensive momentum kept the Eagles at bay.

With the score 18-15, Radtke scored on back-to-back kills to help extend the lead to 21-15 en route to a 25-19 third set victory.

The fourth set got off to a similar start for NIU with a fast 8-4 lead thanks to spikes from four different Huskies and a resounding block solo from Radtke. The Huskies fed off that momentum and pieced together a big 8-1 run for a 17-7 lead, as NIU used five kills and two blocks to take a commanding lead in the frame. That proved to be more than enough, as the Huskies took a 25-18 fourth set win to force a fifth set. Between the third and fourth sets, the Huskies totaled 37 kills and a .363 attack percentage.

EMU, though, bounced back in the fifth set with a 7-2 run to seize control of the stanza. Yet, blocks from Seurer and Zielinski helped get NIU back within 7-5, while consecutive spikes from Kelly closed the gap to 8-7. That was all the closer the Huskies got, as the Eagles got a 3-1 run to again break open the set at 12-9. Undeterred, Roddy scored a kill, then teamed up with Seurer for a block to trim the EMU lead to one. However, the Eagles scored the final three points to score a 15-11 win.

Roddy led the Huskies with 26 kills on the night, while Gonzalez finished with 53 assists. Defensively, Seurer had six blocks and three Huskies posted double-digit digs, led by Brereton’s 23.

NIU enters postseason play next weekend with the MAC Tournament. The Huskies head to Athens, Ohio, as the tournament’s No. 2 seed and will play No. 3 Miami, No. 6 EMU or No. 7 Kent State Sunday.

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

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