It took five sets, but NIU volleyball came away with a division win against Western Michigan Thursday night.
With the win, the Huskies (16-2, 2-1 MAC) snapped not only the Broncos’ (11-5, 2-1) five-match win streak this season, but also the seven-match win streak against NIU. The last Huskies’ victory came on Sept. 28, 2006 in a 3-1 match in Kalamazoo, Mich.
“I’m happy that history didn’t repeat itself tonight,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “That’s what’s happened to us before, where the mystique of teams in our conference sometimes have them leading a couple points into the match. Our team went in there and said ‘hey, this is our opportunity’ and took advantage of it.”
The Huskies got off to a slow start, being down most of the first set before losing 25-22. But the second set turned around, 25-17, with NIU tallying a .500 hitting percentage.
The Broncos battled back to take the third set 27-25, in extra play, right before NIU outside hitter Allison McGlaughlin changed momentum to begin the fourth. McGlaughlin began the set with two service aces and would go on to have the final kill of the set.
“I was passing really well which helps for hitting,” McGlaughlin said. “I was confident in the way I was playing so I was getting kills which was helping me later on in the game.”
In the fifth set, the Broncos got a kill and a service error on NIU to go up 2-0, but the Huskies battled back and took the set 15-10 after a kills by McGlaughlin to seal the victory.
The Huskies would finish the evening with 76 kills on 181 attempts, along with 75 digs and 74 assists. Freshman outside hitter Lauren Wicinski led the way with 29 kills in 68 attempts, while McGlaughlin added 15 kills and 12 digs.
“They sent some pretty fast balls to the outsides and our blocks struggled with it and making adjustments,” said WMU associate head coach Ryan Manning. “We haven’t seen many teams that run a system as fast as they did tonight.”
The victory was extra sweet for lone senior and libero Maddie Hughes who also turned 22 on Thursday.
“Maddie hasn’t ever won against Western Michigan so that was a huge birthday present for her,” McGlaughlin said. “That is a huge confidence builder. We got momentum for our next game.”