Redbirds swat Huskies in three

By Hyun Moon

Illinois State University showed the Huskie volleyball team just why the Redbirds are favored to defend their Gateway Conference title as they handled NIU in three easy games.

ISU never gave the Huskies a chance to get in the match, defeating them 15-2, 15-7, 15-3 in Chick Evans Field House. This drops NIU’s record to 3-9.

ISU senior Lisa McAtee led the Redbirds’ attack with 11 kills in 22 attempts for a .455 attack percentage with only one error. The Redbirds shot almost flawlessly with a .355 average compared to the .096 shot by the Huskies.

The Huskies’ poor showing was mostly due to the impressive defensive play of the Redbirds, who out-dug NIU 37-31 and held the Huskies to the mere .096 kill average.

“We pride ourselves on our defense,” said second-year ISU head coach Julie Morgan. “We blocked especially well tonight. I think it was due to the tall teams that we have been playing.”

Morgan said that the Redbirds’ experience helped them against the young Huskies. “We have five seniors, four of whom are starters; having played a tough preseason has helped against a team that we’re compatible with like NIU.”

NIU head coach Pete Waite served under Morgan for a year before coming to NIU. Morgan said, “I have a lot of respect for Pete and I know that NIU is a much better team than what they showed (Tuesday night).”

Waite did not have much to say about the Huskies’ poor performance. “I just can’t explain right now—maybe we just froze before our home crowd. We played poorly both times at home. We never played this poorly on the road; we just had trouble starting rallies.”

The Huskies had trouble keeping up with the hard-hitting Redbirds, who had no trouble getting points on the board. The Redbirds ran away with the first game, taking the first six points before junior Karie Niesen could put NIU on the scoreboard with one of her eight kills of the night.

The second game started like the first with the Redbirds slamming away at the Huskie defense to take a 6-1 lead. After a Huskie time out, NIU came out strong, but the Redbirds kept pulling away.

The Huskies pulled off their only run of the night when a couple of Redbird errors and a kill by junior Julie Kreiling put the inspired Huskies at their closest game, 11-7. The Redbirds saw enough of the Huskies’ inspiration and stuffed the ball over the helpless Huskies to finish off the second game.

The third game was more of the same domination by ISU. During the game, the Redbirds slammed back five balls that NIU was able to put just over the net.

Morgan was pleased with the performance of her Redbirds, who had been struggling before meeting NIU. But she was quick to point out the talent the Huskies possess, especially freshman setter Amber Kimmel.

“Starting in the collegiate level as a freshman is a tough thing to do. (Kimmel) did a real nice job out there,” said Morgan. Kimmel provided the Huskies with 27 of their 28 assists on the night.