Volleyball perfect over weekend


Junior Alexis “Pookie” Gonzalez (15) and sophomore Jenna Radtke (5) attempt to hit a volleyball against Toledo Friday at Victor E. Court. The Huskies swept the Rockets Friday and went on to sweep the Ball State Cardinals Saturday.

By Rhema Rhea

Volleyball (9-7) started conference play with a clean slate during its two-game homestand over the weekend.

The Huskies (9-7, 2-0 MAC) won all six sets they played Friday and Saturday at Victor E. Court, sweeping the Toledo Rockets and the Ball State Cardinals, respectively.

Volleyball improved to 4-3 on its home floor behind 10 service aces combined over its conference openers. Sophomore defensive specialist Paige Dacanay ended the weekend with two aces.

“I love my serve,” Dacanay said. “I think it’s one of the few things that I can contribute to the team.”


NIU won the spike battle against the Rockets, 37-30. Four Huskies finished with seven or more kills, including sophomore outside hitter T’ara Austin, who finished with eight successful attacks, tying a career high.

Toledo (1-13) couldn’t get its offense clicking Friday night, failing in straight sets and only reaching 18 points once (25-18, 25-17, 25-13).

“I thought I made the most of what I was given, and I was happy with my performance,” Austin said. “At first I had the jitters because usually I’m not a starter, but outside of that I thought I did OK.”

NIU raced to an advantage early, going up 3-1 in the second set, but the Rockets came back to tie the set at 3-3. Toledo didn’t stop there, making it a 7-5 Rockets lead early. The Huskies got right back into the match, sprinting on a 6-0 run. NIU used a 4-0 run later on in the set and coasted to a 25-18 second-set win.

Junior Alexis “Pookie” Gonzalez finished the match with 26 assists and 11 digs for her fourth double-double of the season. Defensively, sophomore Jenna Radtke posted six blocks while freshman libero Anna Brereton put up 13 digs in the win.

Ball State

Ball State stepped onto Victor E. Court with a two-game regular-season winning streak over the Huskies, but it left with a sweep at the hands of NIU Saturday.

The win also marked the first time since 2006 NIU has started its conference season with a 2-0 record.

“They’re a well-coached team,” said head coach Ray Gooden. “I have the utmost respect for coach [Steve] Shondell and his group, but playing on the road is hard, and it was nice for us to do a good job defending home.”

NIU was powered by a .382 attack percentage and a 43 kill performance, which was a huge reason behind the three-set (25-21, 25-23, 25-15) victory over the Cardinals.

The Huskies held the Cardinals’ attack in check late despite Ball State cutting into the NIU lead. NIU got a good boost late, finishing the final set with a .478 attack percentage.

“I thought we played good team volleyball tonight,” Gooden said. “That was really fun to see and be a part of.”