Volleyball prolongs success

Members of the volleyball team celebrate after scoring in a Nov. 19 match against the University of Ohio on Victor E. Court. The Huskies defeated Ohio in straight sets to advance to the Mid-American Conference final. 

By Danielle Brown

DeKALB | The Volleyball team discovered Sunday it will be traveling to Colombia, Missouri, to face the No. 15 seed University of Missouri Tigers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Last week, the Huskies (25-5, 15-1 Mid-American Conference) defeated Miami University in straight sets in the MAC championship game to advance to their first NCAA Tournament since losing to University of Miami Dec. 2, 2011 in Ames, Iowa.

NCAA Tournament

The Huskies’ first opponent was revealed at the team’s selection party hosted by Fatty’s Pub & Grille, 1312 W. Lincoln Highway, in the Novak Room.

Missouri (25-5, 16-2 Southeastern Conference) is coming off a championship run of its own, earning the SEC championship title. The Huskies and Tigers both ended their regular seasons with a 25-5 record. The Huskies went on to achieve a 15-1 record in MAC play sharing a regular season co-championship with Miami. The Huskies then hosted, and won, the MAC Tournament, beating Ohio University in the semifinals and Miami in the championship in straight sets Nov. 19 to 20 on Victor E. Court.

“We’re excited to continue our season and play against a really good program in SEC Champion Missouri,” saidHead Coach Ray Gooden. “Anyone that we’re going to play against this time of year is going to be a really good team, so we’re excited to play against those guys. [The game is] in an area where we can drive to and against a team that we can have a competitive match against.”


The Huskies are coming off some recent individual success. Senior middle blocker Jenna Radtke finished the season with the MAC Player of the Yearhonor and is 24th in the country in hitting percentage at .385 on the season. Senior outside hitter Mary Grace Kelly earned the MAC Tournament MVP honor after leading NIU with 23 kills in two matches. Sophomore middle blocker Meg Wolowicz and senior middle blocker Lauren Zielinski earned honorable mention All-MAC accolades.

NIU led the conference in blocks per set (2.67), hitting percentage (.263) and total blocks (.294), which put the Huskies in the top 50 ranking of the country in all three categories.

In his 15th season coaching the Huskies, Gooden was named 2016 MAC Coach of the Year and has led NIU to the NCAA Tournament one other time in 2011. This is the fifth time he’s won this award and the fourth in the last six years.

The previous six times the volleyball team has entered the NCAA tournament, NIU has a 3-6 record, last winning a first round match against Florida State University in 1998. NIU fell to Miami in four sets, (17-25, 25-21, 12-25, 24-26) in its last appearance in 2011.

If the Huskies win against the Tigers on Thursday, they will then go on to play the winner of the Iowa State University and Purdue University game 6 p.m. Friday in Columbia, Missouri.

Their first game of the tournament will be against the University of Missouri 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Columbia, Missouri.

Thursday’s and Friday’s matches will broadcast on the SEC Network, while all other NCAA Tournament matches can be watched on ESPN3.