Volleyball shares title

By Danielle Brown

The volleyball team earned two wins over the weekend, which qualified the team for its fourth Mid-American Conference regular season championship and their first ever co-championship honors.

NIU will be co-MAC champions with Miami University who also finished 23-5 and 15-1 in the MAC.

The Huskies (23-5, 15-1 MAC) defeated University of Toledo (15-12, 8-7 MAC) 3-0 and Ball State University (13-19, 9-7 MAC) 3-2, capping off a season where they had a .821 winning percentage, the team’s best in the past decade, and a record-tying 23 wins on the season.


The volleyball team defeated Toledo in straight sets, (25-23, 25-22, 25-11) on Friday night.

Four Huskies totaled eight or more kills, including senior outside hitter Mary Grace Kelly, who led the team with 11. Sophomore middle blocker Meg Wolowicz, junior outside hitter Taylor Krage and redshirt senior middle blocker Lauren Zielinski added eight kills each. Krage also had a career high of 14 digs.

The Huskies and Rockets traded points in the first set. Toledo led early, but the Huskies were able to tie it at 14-14. The teams continued to go back-and-forth and were tied again at 22-22. The Huskies went on to win the set, 25-23.

The Huskies began the second set with a commanding 15-0 early lead before Toledo was able to close the gap to just one point. The Huskies were able to hold Toledo off and win the set, 25-22.

Halfway through the third set, the Huskies built a 10 point lead using only three servers. The Huskies dominated the set 25-11 in just 20 minutes.

Head Coach Ray Gooden said he understood Toledo was going to be another tough MAC-West division battle and appreciated the effort of his team.

“Those first couple of sets were good challenges for both teams,” Gooden said, according to NIU Media Services. “They did a good job of keeping us a step behind for a while, but we were able to do some things to counter [them] and win the right points.”

Ball State

The Huskies continued their weekend against Ball State Saturday night, beating the team 3-2 in five sets, (25-13, 23-25, 25-14, 23-25, 15-12).

The Huskies had a season high in block average in a set with 20.5 and total number of digs with 101 for the match. Senior middle blocker Jenna Radtke had 19 kills and 10 blocks and ended the night with her second career double-double.

Junior libero Anna Breteton also had a season best of 35 digs, helping the Huskies beat Ball State in digs by seven. Kelly finished with more than 1,000 kills in a season, making her the 22nd player in program history and the 12th under Gooden to reach that milestone.

The Huskies came out in the first set in attack mode, acquiring 20 kills and a .419 hitting percentage.

The Huskies had four blocks and 19 digs to hold the Cardinals to a .091 hitting percentage. Radtke’s seven points and six kills helped the Huskies win the set, 25-13.

The Huskies started the third set strong with four blocks in their first eight points, making it their 13th double-digit night of the season. The Huskies went on to take the set, 25-14.

Defensive blocks helped the Huskies control the fifth set, as they took an 8-3 lead. The Cardinals came within a point, but the Huskies took the set by a score of 15-12, winning the match.

“If there’s any match that can prepare us for the MAC tournament, it was [Saturday’s],” Gooden said. “We learned how to persevere at the end and that was great for our group.”

The Huskies will host the MAC tournament beginning Thursday through Sunday. NIU will play in the semifinal match of the tournament 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Victor E. Court.

The Huskies’ match on Saturday, along with other semifinal and the finals match, will air live on ESPN3 and are available to stream live at MACsports.com.