Volleyball team wins MAC title

Huskie fans pack Victor E. Court on Nov. 21, 2016 for a volleyball game between NIU and the Ohio Bobcats. NIU sporting events return to full capacity this fall.

By Danielle Brown

DeKALB | The volleyball team won all six sets it played in the Mid-American Conference tournament en route to its first MAC championship since 2001.

The Huskies defeated the Miami University RedHawks Wednesday in straight sets, (25-18, 25-20, 25-20), in front of 824 fans who packed Victor E. Court, which played host to the MAC tournament.

“Honestly, there’s no one word I can think of to describe my excitement,” said senior middle blocker Jenna Radtke. “I am so proud of this team. A team effort. No words to describe it.”

Senior outside hitter Mary Grace Kelly was named MAC tournament MVP with 23 kills in two matches played.

NIU has an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. This will be NIU’s seventh time in the tournament and first time since 2011. The first and second rounds of the tournament will begin Dec. 1.

Miami University

NIU and Miami were MAC regular season co-champions before the tournament began. The Huskies entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed because the No. 1 seed Redhawks defeated NIU on Oct. 29 in Oxford, Ohio.

Head Coach Ray Gooden, who broke the record for most wins as a head coach Sept. 2 against Bradley University, said he was overwhelmed with joy for the team after the win.

“They played together,” Gooden said. “They believed they could do it.”

The Huskies controlled the pace of the entire first set.

Midway through the set, NIU had a comfortable lead, 15-9. The Huskies continued to play well and won the set handedly, 25-18.

The second set was more competitive as the score was tied twice—once at 5-5 and again at 15-15. The Huskies played as a unit, and a final kill from Radtke won the set, 25-20.

The Huskies continued to play as a team and with confidence. A 15-11 Huskie lead forced the RedHawks to take a timeout. The RedHawks attempted to climb back but the momentum of the Huskies was too powerful. Sophomore middle blocker Meg Wolowicz slammed the ball over the net for the final set point, 25-20.

Ohio University

The Huskies defeated Ohio University in straight sets, (25-22, 25-16, 25-19).

“Our first contact helped us with our block,” Gooden said. “It helped us with our attacking as well, so by handling the ball well, that put us in good spots to be successful.”

The game started out close as there were no major runs as the Huskies held a 14-12 lead. After the Bobcats crept back into the game, 23-21 the Huskies called a timeout to regroup and win the set, 25-22.

NIU started off the second set several consecutive kills and got out to an early 7-1 lead. The Huskies continued to stretch their lead until the end, 25-16.

NIU looked to end the third set quickly. They had an early lead of 15-7 and never stopped playing to win the set, and match, 25-19.