Huskies drop two despite strong effort

By James Krause and Marcel Carrasco

NIU volleyball lost two straight tough matches this week despite a spirited effort against Chicago State and Southeast Missouri State.

Tuesday vs. Chicago State

The Huskies and the Chicago State Cougars traded the lead for most of the first set, but NIU was able to break a 13-13 tie with a kill from sophomore outside hitter Jori Radtke.

The point helped the Huskies start a 12-5 run to win the first set, 25-18. Senior middle blocker Meg Wolowicz had 10 kills in the first set and finished the night with a career-high 30 kills.

The Huskies took an early lead in the second set thanks to four attack errors from the Cougars to go up 6-3, but failed to keep behind a .119 hitting percentage for the set.

NIU dropped the second set 25-21 as the Huskies had to contend with the Cougars junior outside hitter Lauryn Dela-Cruz, who had eight kills and a service ace to rally Chicago State in the set. Dela-Cruz led Chicago State with 21 kills for the match.

The Huskies led early in the third set 10-7 behind kills from Wolowicz and Radtke, but service errors and a 4-0 run allowed the Cougars to tie it at 16-16.

The team traded points until fatigue set in for the Huskies, as they allowed 7-2 to give up the third set 25-22.

Another early rally for the Huskies put the them up by 6-5 in the fourth set, but the Huskies relinquished the lead to the Cougars giving up two straight points.

The Huskies were unable to put together a run good enough to take back the lead, giving up the final set to the Cougars 25-23. The win put the Cougars at 6-6 on the season, while NIU fell to 2-9.

Wednesday vs Southeastern Missouri

NIU’s late efforts ended in disappointment as the Huskies fell to the Redhawks in five sets after overcoming offensive struggles.

“We have been battling all year,” Gooden said. “We have been putting ourselves in spots where we can do some positive things. A lot is just trying to have the composure in those spots to make that critical play.”

The Huskies were able to wake up from a lackluster first set that ended in a 25-16 defeat.

NIU led throughout the second set including a five point lead at 12-17. However, the Redhawks were able to match the Huskies’ tempo. Southeastern Missouri came back in the second set to notch another win 25-22 led by sophomore outside hitter Laney Malloy who put up five kills, and senior outside hitter Haley Bilbruck’s three kills including a set clinching dart.

Sets three and four told a different story for Northern Illinois.The Huskies won both sets 25-21 while leading the Redhawks 29-24 in kills. Coach Gooden’s squad was able to find their groove riding Senior middle blocker Meg Wolowicz’s hot hand. Wolowicz’s 11 kills in the third and fourth sets helped propel the Huskies to a fifth set in search of Gooden’s 300th win. Wolowicz ended with the match with 69 total attempts leading both teams.

“It hurts,” said Senior middle blocker Meg Wolowicz. “We wrap a lot of emotion into the game and to come that close and not pull out with a victory it’s hard.”

NIU came close to a win, leading 14-13 before a missed serve from NIU evened the match for SEMO. The Redhawks were eventual victors with a 16-14 ending from Freshman defensive specialist Ally Dion. The fifth set saw a total of six lead changes and eight ties.