Volleyball puts down CMU

By Mike Romor

Volleyball continued to win when it matters most, this time downing two divisional foes to bring its win streak to five matches.

In a Friday showcase against Central Michigan, NIU (17-11, 9-5 MAC) dominated in a three-setter. The Huskies overpowered the Chippewas (11-15, 5-9), outhitting them .298-.141, notching 45 kills with 14 attack errors while CMU had 31 kills with 17 attack errors.

“I thought we really had a lot of energy and did a lot of really positive things,” said head coach Ray Gooden. “We had some great serving and handled the ball really well.”

Outside hitter Mackenzie Roddy put together a solid stat line, posting 13 kills with a .357 hitting percentage. She also finished with nine digs.

Freshmen Jenna Radtke and Mary Grace Kelly continued their assault on the MAC, each finishing with 11 kills. Radtke hit .529 and Kelly hit .333 on the night.

While three Huskies ended with double-digit kills, not a single Chippewa posted more than eight, and only two players hit more than .200.

Senior libero Justine Schepler tallied a match-high 15 digs. Sophomore setter Alexis Gonzalez continued her strong late-season run, finishing with 37 assists and eight digs.

NIU showed no signs of slowing down Saturday, downing Eastern Michigan (14-15, 4-10) in four sets to pick up its fifth straight win. The wins marked the first undefeated away weekend of the season.

“It felt really good being able to come out strong on the road after struggling with that so far,” Radtke said. “I think that as it comes to the end of the season, we all kind of came together as a team to really work hard to push through our struggles on the road.”

After dropping a third set in which EMU hit .212, the Huskies closed the match out by holding the Eagles to a .044 percentage in the fourth frame.

EMU finished the match with one more kill than NIU, 54-53, but NIU outhit EMU .257-.188. Radtke led the Huskies with a team-high 14 kills, .444 hitting percentage, two aces and five block assists, capping off the strongest weekend of her young career.

Gonzalez finished off her strong weekend with 48 assists, two aces and six digs. Kelly recorded 10 kills to go along with 15 digs, while Roddy collected nine kills and 21 digs.

Senior Sarah Angelos bounced back from a sub-par offensive performance against CMU, swinging for 13 kills on 27 swings. Schepler added 19 digs on the evening.

“The biggest thing for us is that we played really good team volleyball and did a really good job of getting our girls in good spots to make plays happen,” Gooden said.