Volleyball needs to improve on ‘technical things’

By Rhema Rhea

Volleyball dropped two straight games to finish its first weekend of play 1-2 after starting the season with a bang in the opener.


Friday, the Huskies opened the 2014 season with a win against the Presbyterian Blue Hose in four sets (25-8, 25-16, 28-30, 25-13), dropping the third set in a competitive back-and-forth set that went the Blue Hose’s way.

“Everyone was excited about the NIU Invitational [because] it’s our first home game,” said junior setter Alexis “Pookie” Gonzalez. “Everyone is always asking when our first game is. People want to come out here. It makes for a real fun environment.

“This place was packed. I mean, teams hate coming to play in our gym because ours is more intimate. Other teams play in bigger gyms. They have the same amount of people as us, but it sounds like there are two people in the gym versus this kind of seating; it really packs them in and they are closer to the court, so it’s a real pain in here if you don’t go to NIU.”

Gonzalez finished the four-set matchup against the Blue Hose with 43 assists and four service aces.

The win made NIU 11-1 in season-openers in the Ray Gooden era. The team last lost its season opener in 2007.

“It was pretty positive,” Gooden said. “There were a lot of players who got some experience.”


NIU started off day two of the tournament with a five-set loss to the Colorado Buffaloes. The match went the distance with NIU falling short in an electrifying fifth set after being ahead 8-2 before falling behind and eventually losing (26-28, 25-18, 25-20, 21-25, 15-12).

Senior outside hitter Mackenzie Roddy was the leading lady for the Huskies against the Buffaloes with 16 digs and 29 kills. Despite the loss, senior Emily Paschke liked the energy on the court and the way her teammates contributed.

“It was a good experience,” Paschke said. “I think that even though we are young it doesn’t really show. On paper it might show that way, but when we’re on the court it doesn’t seem that way. The freshmen, sophomores and juniors are really stepping up, and we’re all playing in the roles and spots that we need to be efficient.”


After the Colorado loss early Saturday, NIU took the court one last time for the weekend to play the Northwestern Wildcats, who went into the game undefeated. That’s how they ended the tournament, finishing off NIU in straight sets (20-25, 19-25, 22-25).

Freshman Anna Brereton started at libero during the season-opening tournament and finished the last contest with a team-high 11 digs.

Roddy was named to the NIU Invitational All-Tournament team for the second-straight season. Roddy and sophomore outside hitter Mary Grace Kelly finished the Northwestern bout with 11 kills apiece.

“There is a lot of technical things that we can improve on,” Gooden said. “I like the group we have. I think we have some people that can help and contribute with our team right now. I saw a lot of positive things. We played against two strong teams from really good conferences, and we had a good start against Presbyterian.”