Angelos, volleyball look to climb MAC standings


Redshirt junior Mackenzie Roddy spikes the ball Sept. 20 against George Washington University. NIU kept its MAC record at .500 with a win and loss this weekend.

By Mike Romor

In the thick of a battle for MAC Tournament bids, volleyball knows the importance of this weekend’s home matches.

NIU (13-11, 5-5 MAC) starts its weekend early with its second matchup of the season against Western Michigan (13-10, 6-4) at 6 p.m. today.

NIU won a previous road contest between these two MAC West squads in five sets. In that encounter, NIU took the lead with outside hitters Mackenzie Roddy and Mary Grace Kelly. The duo combined for 42 kills on 112 swings and hit a collective .286.

“We did a good job of maximizing our opportunities,” said head coach Ray Gooden. “We served well against them, we did a good job executing plays and staying consistent in the sets we won.”

Another win would propel the Huskies past the Broncos in the standings and make the path to the MAC Tournament slightly more comforting.

To take this battle, NIU will most likely rely on Sarah Angelos. Angelos is coming off a 13-kill performance in which she hit .591 with no attack errors. She ranks fifth in the MAC with a .335 hitting percentage through 10 conference matches.

“We’re getting what we expect out of her,” Gooden said. “It’s good that she continues to improve. I think the biggest thing for me that was a positive last week was that not only did she have positive numbers offensively, but she did a real good job defensively, as well.”

Across the net from Angelos will be Ave Stout. Stout is the MAC’s most efficient offensive performer. In her freshman year, she is hitting a league-best .379.

Western Michigan has excelled offensively this season, ranking second in the MAC in kills per set, hitting percentage and assists per set.

“Their biggest thing is to outkill you,” Gooden said. “They try to outdig you, as well. We have to do a good job, like we did last time, of not being outkilled. We have to do a good job of staying in the play and rallying against those guys. That’s what it really comes down to.”

After tonight’s matchup, the Huskies will once again defend Victor E. Court again at 7 p.m. Saturday for a showcase against Miami (Ohio) (10-12, 2-8).

Miami sits next-to-last in the MAC East, having beaten the worst teams in each division for its lone conference victories.

Miami ranks near the bottom of the MAC in nearly every category except for serving aces. Its average of 1.41 aces per set is good for second in the MAC. NIU sits at ninth, averaging .95 aces per set.

Miami also does a good job of hanging around in matches. The RedHawks have only been swept in one MAC contest and have taken two other matches to five sets before losing.

“They are always capable of playing very physical volleyball,” Gooden said. “They are solid in all areas, but it’s just a matter of them being consistent. They are very capable of playing good volleyball.”