NIU volleyball team rallies to overcome Lewis Flyers

By Kari Brackett

When NIU volleyball coach Herb Summers predicted his team would be in a grueling match against Lewis, he was not kidding.

The Huskies and Flyers went head-to-head for two hours and 20-minutes in a five game match. The Huskies took charge and defeated the Division II Flyers 7-15, 15-12, 10-15, 15-8, 15-12.

NIU is now 3-2. Lewis dropped to 5-1.

“The game was too exciting,” Summers said. “They (Lewis) have always played tough. It is worse playing them than a Division I team because they have nothing to lose.”

In the first game, NIU came out strong with a 4-0 lead. The Huskies watched the lead dwindle when the Flyers scored eight unanswered points. Lewis stayed hot the rest of the way while NIU could not get together.

“The first game started fast, but then we couldn’t pass,” Summers said. “It was in that stretch we lost our confidence and we could not build our momentum.”

The second game was high-intensity all the way through. As one team acted like it would take charge, the other one came back with strong play. When NIU led 14-11, the Huskies seemed to have the game won, but there were three more sideouts and another point for the Flyers before NIU controlled the game.

Lewis jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third game. As the teams battled back and forth, NIU came within one, 6-7, but it was the closest Lewis allowed the Huskies in that game. NIU made sure it won the fourth game to force a fifth and deciding game.

Both teams were neck-and-neck. The Flyers led 7-5 when the Huskies turned things around. Amy Garrett approached the service line and scored four straight points giving NIU a 9-7 lead.

After five sideouts and some missed blocks and kills, the teams were tied at 10. A spike by Lewis’ Brenda Kuehn gave the Flyers a one-point lead. NIU’s Cathy Holmes retaliated with a kill to give NIU the ball back. Holmes then walked up to the serving line and added four more points to the Huskie total, bringing the score to 14-11. Lewis came back to score one, but did not keep the ball for long as the Flyers watched the ball drop on their side of the court.

Garrett tried to serve the winning point but the ball flew out-of-bounds. Another kill by Holmes gave NIU another chance at winning. Anne Polaski’s serve was the winning point as she aced it over the net.

The crowd played a big role in Tuesday night’s match. Fans seemed to be just as emotional as the players. Both Huskie fans and Flyer fans were chanting and whistling and yelling for their teams.

“It did not hurt for us to be at home,” Summers said. “If we would have been on the road it would have been tougher to win.

“There were a lot of exciting rallies. It would have been real hard for us psychologically to lose.”

NIU’s middle blocker, Holmes, had a good showing for the Huskies. Holmes collected 20 of 41 attempts for a kill percentage of .366.

“When we passed consistently, they could not stop Cathy,” Summers said. “She played a real good match and has the potential to be a dominant player.”

Garrett was another athlete Summers praised.

“Amy did a great job in the fifth game,” Summers said. She usually plays left front, but we moved her to middle back to help with defense. She did a good job and sacrificed herself for the team.”