Volleyball ends home slate with loss


Lauren Zielinski (17), redshirt sophomore middle blocker, spikes the ball Saturday at Victor E. Court in the match against the Eastern Michigan Eagles. The Huskies’ 3-2 loss to the Eagles was their first loss in DeKalb since Aug. 30.

By Rhema Rhea

Volleyball (21-9, 14-1 MAC) locked down the No. 2 seed in the MAC Tournament and was officially declared MAC West regular season champ despite going 1-1 to close the regular season.

The Huskies took down the Central Michigan Chippewas in five sets Friday. On Senior Night on Saturday, NIU went another five sets, but this time it lost at the hands of the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

“At this time of year so many things happen,” said head coach Ray Gooden. “So, [Friday] was the roller coaster. We were up really big in the first set, and then lost the second, led the third, lost the fourth. At the end we were able to make the plays that we’re capable of making, and that’s really what it is. It was good for our group to rally towards the end and be OK.”

The loss didn’t affect the Huskies’ standings as they will still have a double bye in the MAC Tournament and will not take the court again until the semifinals Sunday in Athens, Ohio.

Central Michigan

The Chippewas (10-18, 5-11 MAC) needed two wins to get the eighth and final MAC Tournament spot heading into the weekend.

NIU ruined those chances in five sets (25-15, 22-25, 25-18, 25-15, 15-9) behind a season-high 19-block performance. The block party was also the biggest total for NIU since 2008.

The Huskies opened up a large lead in the first set, sprinting out to a 9-1 advantage early on. With a 5-0 run later in the set, the NIU margin ballooned to 17-4 with the home team having full control.

The Chippewas took the second set and then NIU and Central Michigan traded the third and fourth sets. The Huskies came out strong in the fifth set, winning 15-9.

Freshman middle blocker Shelby Seurer had a career night on defense, registering 10 blocks. NIU held three Central Michigan players to a negative attack percentage. The Huskie defense also managed to hold the Chippewas to a .051 attack percentage or worse in two of the five sets, including a -.261 in the final frame.

Eastern Michigan

On Senior Night, NIU fell short against the Eagles in five sets (14-25, 16-25, 25-19, 25-18, 11-15). The Eagles (18-12, 9-7 MAC) clinched the No. 6 seed in the MAC Tournament with the win.

The Huskies couldn’t get their offense flowing in the first two sets and collected 18 errors.

“We just didn’t take care of the ball as well as we need to,” Gooden said “We just have to do a better job of it. It’s unfortunate because we had some players doing some pretty good things. I thought [Emily] Paschke was in there trying to help our team out, especially on senior day. We just didn’t respond as well as we needed to, to be OK.”

NIU rallied to two set wins after the break, but the early 0-2 hole was too hard to climb out of.

“I think that maybe we came out with too much emotion because we really wanted to get the win for our seniors because we owe them a lot of respect for all the things they’ve done for us,” said sophomore outside hitter Mary Grace Kelly. “So, I think that we didn’t play with the right emotion but definitely tried to play for them.”