Huskies travel for two MAC matches against East division opponents

By Justin Kelley

DeKALB — The Huskies will be tested on their two-game road trip, facing Mid-American Conference East division leader, the Akron University Zips Friday before heading east to Buffalo, New York, where the Huskies will face the University of Buffalo Bulls Saturday. Buffalo is currently last place in the MAC East with a 1-5 record in conference.

So far this season, the Zips are looking like a team that could make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Akron has wins against Ball State University and Miami University – Ohio; both teams beat NIU, 3-0 Oct. 4 and 3-2 Oct. 12.

The Huskies won one of two matchups Oct. 12, 2018 against the Zips last season at the Convocation Center, 3-0. Former Huskie Jori Radtke led they way for NIU with 17 kills and 11 digs, and sophomore setter Grace Balensiefer had 25 assists.

NIU did not have similar success in the match against the Bulls on Oct. 13, 2018 losing in five sets, 3-2 at the Convocation Center. Sophomore middle blocker Jasmine Kemp had three blocks and four kills in last year’s matchup.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”left” content=”<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2019 MAC STANDINGS</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>EAST</strong></p> <ol><li style="text-align: left;">Akron</li><li style="text-align: left;">Ohio</li><li style="text-align: left;">Bowling Green</li><li style="text-align: left;">Miami</li><li style="text-align: left;">Kent State</li><li style="text-align: left;">Buffalo</li></ol> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>WEST</strong></p> <ol><li style="text-align: left;">Central Michigan</li><li style="text-align: left;">Ball State</li><li style="text-align: left;">Northern Illinois</li><li style="text-align: left;">Western Michigan</li><li style="text-align: left;">Eastern Michigan</li><li style="text-align: left;">Toledo</li></ol>” id=”664716a2-52bc-4610-ad7c-48e2bc5d4d6b” style-type=”highlights” title=”2019 MAC Standings” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

The Huskies will have their hands full trying to contain two of the top players in the MAC in Ashley Richardson, Akron’s senior middle blocker, and Buffalo’s senior setter Scout McLerran. Richardson is currently in second place in the MAC in hitting percentage with .367% and McLerran is currently sixth in assists with 527.

NIU also has its fair share of performers. Sophomore setter Grace Balensiefer is currently second in assists with 702, and junior libero Miranda Karlen is tied for third with 23 service aces.

First volley against Akron is set for 6 p.m in the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio. Saturday’s match against Buffalo is set for 5 p.m. at the Alumni Arena in Buffalo.