Volleyball splits weekend games

By Khobi Price

The volleyball team split its pair of games over the weekend with its loss against the Eastern Michigan University Eagles (17-25, 16-25, 17-25) Friday and its win versus the Central Michigan University Chippewas (26-24, 21-25, 25-21, 25-22) Saturday.

Friday – Eastern Michigan

The Huskies (6-15, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) followed up one of their worst offensive outputs against the Miami RedHawks Sept. 30 by tallying season-lows in kills, attack percentage and assists versus Eastern Michigan.

“Eastern Michigan did a really good job with their serve,” Head Coach Ray Gooden said. “They just played about as complete of a match as you possibly could play.”

The Eagles opened up the match with a 3-0 run before NIU rattled off four consecutive points to take a one point advantage. Eastern Michigan took a 9-8 lead before it scored nine of the ensuing 11 points to go up 18-10. The Huskies and Eagles exchanged points for the remainder of the set and the Eastern Michigan won the first set 25-17.

Eastern Michigan did not face a deficit for the entire second set. The Eagles scored the first two points of the second set before taking an early 9-3 advantage. NIU cut its deficit to 15-11, but Eastern Michigan went on a 4-2 run to take a 19-13 lead. The Eagles scored six of the final nine points to take a 25-16 set victory.

The Huskies took a 5-2 lead to start the third set following a senior middle blocker Meg Wolowicz kill. The Eagles responded by scoring nine successive points to take an 11-5 advantage. NIU tallied a 5-1 run to reduce its deficit to two, but it did not cut any deeper into Eastern Michigan’s lead. The Eagles won the final set 25-17 and swept the Huskies in the set.

“I think that [match] was another learning moment for our group,” Gooden said. “Everyone’s going to give us their best and I thought [Eastern Michigan] did a nice job of putting pressure on us all night long.”

Saturday – Central Michigan

NIU witnessed improvements on both sides of the ball from its loss to Eastern Michigan in its victory over the Chippewas. The Huskies recorded 55 kills on a .202 hitting percentage and tied a season-high 15 blocks.

“I thought the team came together and they really worked from the Eastern [Michigan] match until the start of the Central [Michigan] match on about becoming a better unit,” Gooden said “It was going to take team efforts for us to be successful and it was good to see our group come together.”

Central Michigan jumped out to a 4-1 lead before back-to-back sophomore outside hitter Jori Radtke kills followed by a Chippewas’ attack error tied the match at eight. The two teams exchanged points for the remainder of the match until Central Michigan gained a 24-22 advantage.

The Chippewas committed an attack error to reduce the Huskies deficit to one before Wolowicz notched three consecutive kills to win the the opening set 26-24.

Central Michigan opened the second set with three consecutive points and maintained its lead before NIU reduced its deficit to 8-7. The Chippewas tallied an 11-3 run to gain a nine-point advantage midway through the set. The Huskies responded with seven consecutive points of their own to bring Central Michigan’s lead down to 19-17. NIU’s comeback attempt fell short, as the Chippewas won the set 25-21.

The Chippewas opened the third set with a 7-3 lead before a 3-0 run spared by Radtke and Wolowicz kills tied the set at eight. Central Michigan gained a two point advantage before the Huskies went on a 8-2 run to take a 21-17 lead. NIU had its largest lead of the set before Radtke knocked down the set deciding kill to give the Huskies a 25-21 set victory.

NIU jumped out to an 11-1 lead to start the fourth set after a Chippewas’ attack error. Central Michigan scored six consecutive points to reduce its deficit to four. The teams exchanged points for the remainder of the match and the Chippewas brought its deficit down to one, but the NIU closed out the set and match with back-to-back Wolowicz kills to win the match 3-1.

Wolowicz knocked down 25 kills, Radtke notched a double-double with 19 kills and 13 digs, sophomore middle blocker Kennedy Wallace recorded a career-high seven blocks and freshman setter Grace Balensiefer tallied a team-high 29 assists and eight digs.

The Huskies will return to DeKalb for a brief homestead when they face the University of Akron Zips 7 p.m. Friday and the University at Buffalo Bulls 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Victor E. Court.