Volleyball extinguishes Flames


Freshman middle blocker Shleby Seurer (4) attempts to hit the ball over the net against the Illinois-Chicago Flames Tuesday at Victor E. Court. Seurer and the Huskies downed the Flames in four sets, 3-1.

By Steve Shonder

Volleyball had to put out the Flames to push its home record to .500.

The Huskies (7-4) beat the Illinois-Chicago Flames (4-8), 3-1 in four sets (25-18, 22-25,25-19, 25-17), Tuesday at Victor E. Court. The win was the Huskies’ sixth in their last eight games.

NIU was happy to play at home again after two weeks of road games. Head coach Ray Gooden said the team was a little too motivated to get a home win, which distracted the players.

“It was good for our group to get back,” Gooden said. “We haven’t been home in so long, and I think we were so fired up that after a while we just weren’t able to play as consistently as we needed to.”

In the first set, the Huskies were locked in a back-and-forth struggle with the Flames until an attack error by UIC’s Kara Johnson gave the Huskies a 13-12 lead. After that, NIU was able to extend its lead and put the set out of the Flames’ reach. Redshirt sophomore Lauren Zielinski, who finished with 10 kills, blocked an attack by UIC’s Molly McCoy to secure match point.

UIC took a four-point lead late in the second set that was too much for the Huskies to overcome. This came after the Flames had erased an NIU four-point lead. Senior Mackenzie Roddy, who finished with a team-leading 14 kills, said the team’s performance in the second half was a bump in the road.

“I think that in the second [set] we came off a little slow,” Roddy said. “We were lacking energy, but then we pulled it together at the end. And I think that we played really well together. It was a fun match.”

The Huskies separated themselves from the Flames in the third and fourth sets. In the third set, UIC hung around on the scoreboard before the Huskies began to pull away following an injury timeout. Zielinski secured the match point with her third kill of the set.

The Huskies took a commanding eight-point lead in the fourth set. Roddy said NIU’s run on points was the highlight of the match.

“I think we do a really good job serving and putting ourselves in good situations and getting the other team out of system, which makes it a lot easier for us to play defense,” Roddy said. “I think that our blockers did a really nice job in the fourth set of getting touches, and we were playing really good defense behind it. I think that helped us gain momentum. We were just playing really confident.”

Junior Alexis “Pookie” Gonzalez, who finished with 42 assists, said the Huskies were excited to get the win because the proximity of UIC to DeKalb gives the game a rivalry atmosphere.

“It’s always a good match [with UIC] since it’s in-state, it’s kind of local,” Gonzalez said. “It’s always somewhat a rivalry. We never go into a game thinking that — I mean, we go in confident — but we never think that our opponents are going to roll over because its never like that.”