Volleyball seeks final home wins for seniors

Senior+outside+hitter+Mackenzie+Roddy+%2811%29+prepares+to+serve+the+ball+against+the+Bowling+Green+Falcons+Saturday+at+Victor+E.+Court.+Roddy+and+senior+middle+blocker+Emily+Paschke+play+their+final+home+games+this+weekend.

Senior outside hitter Mackenzie Roddy (11) prepares to serve the ball against the Bowling Green Falcons Saturday at Victor E. Court. Roddy and senior middle blocker Emily Paschke play their final home games this weekend.

By Rhema Rhea

Volleyball has locked up the MAC West title and looks to send its seniors out with a pair of home wins this weekend.

The Huskies (20-8, 13-1 MAC) will have two division foes in town when they host the Central Michigan Chippewas 7:30 p.m. Friday and the Eastern Michigan Eagles 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Victor E. Court.

“I think it’s one where there’s still a lot of things at stake, and that’s good,” said head coach Ray Gooden. “Everybody’s still fighting for something. We’re still fighting for the opportunity to get the No. 1 seed. It’s out of our hands, but we can control [our play].

“Central is fighting to hold onto [its] No. 8 spot. Eastern has a chance of being as high as four, which means [it] would get a first-round bye. So, everyone is fighting for something. We also want to finish our regular season on a good note.”

The Huskies wrapped up the MAC West division title when they took down the Western Michigan Broncos, 3-0, Thursday in Kalamazoo, Mich. The victory earned NIU its second division crown in the past four seasons and first since 2011.

The Huskies have wins over the Eagles — 3-2 on Oct. 10 — and Chippewas — 3-1 on Oct. 11 — this season and have won all eight matches against their division opponents.

With the MAC Tournament starting Nov. 21, the Huskies know they have to take these matches as seriously as any other because the teams they see this weekend could end up being their opponents in the tournament.

“It’s really more importantly our last two division matches; that’s a big deal,” Gooden said. “… To finish up 10-0 in our division and finish up 15-1 on the year, that’s a great accomplishment for our group … .

“There are so many different variables that are going on. So, it’s just a matter of us taking it one play at a time; that’s really important for us right now.”