Volleyball starts weekend strong, fades at end


Kayla Zeno (8) high-fives the bench Saturday after NIU scores a point versus Liberty at the Convocation Center.

By Mike Romor

Coming off a solid 2-1 showing in the NIU Invitational, volleyball matched up at home against Missouri State Monday.

After taking the first set, NIU (2-2) struggled to find consistency and lost the match in four sets, 22-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-23.

Junior outside hitter Mackenzie Roddy posted her third double-double of the season, leading NIU with 13 kills and 10 digs.

“It’s always disheartening to lose, especially at home,” Roddy said. “They’re a really good team in a good conference, but we’re always looking for wins no matter who we play. It’s hard to lose sometimes, but it will make us a better team in the long run.”

Middle blocker Sarah Angelos also played well at times for the Huskies, who struggled to find consistency against Missouri State (3-1).

The senior, who is taking on a role as a server this year, struggled early with her serve but made up for it by notching six kills in the first set.

Angelos found a groove in her serving game as play continued and ended the Labor Day match with 10 kills and two solo blocks.

Angelos was not the only Huskie to struggle with her serve: As a team, NIU had 15 service errors while Missouri State had only four.

“This test for us was more mental than physical,” said NIU coach Ray Gooden. “Missouri State did well. Coming off a win over a top 25 team they were feeling good and we were, too, but we have to be able to bring it on a regular basis. That’s where, sometimes, our inexperience shows up.”

Sometimes the inexperience does not show, as NIU won the first two matches of the season.

In the opening match of the season, NIU played Green Bay (1-2). A five-set battle ended with NIU pulling out it’s eighth straight season-opening win.

Michaela Franklin made her head coaching debut for Green Bay in the match. Not only did she get to be the head coach of a team for the first time, but she did it at NIU, where Gooden gave Franklin the first coaching job of her career in 2006.

After three seasons with NIU, Franklin went on to assist and lead recruiting tasks for Marquette, which went to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and 2012.

Franklin was proud to make her debut at the place that gave her a chance at coaching, and against the coach who gave her a chance on his staff.

“It was nice to be somewhere familiar and go up against a familiar face,” Franklin said. “Ray Gooden treats me right. So it’s nice to go up against him, and it was a great first opponent. No matter who NIU has, they like to compete and I wanted them on our schedule. I think playing them is a great way to start off.”