Volleyball looks to break losing streak at home

By Mike Romor

DeKalb | After a rare straight-set home loss to Northern Iowa on Tuesday, volleyball hopes to rebound against three teams in the Huskie Invitational this weekend.

NIU (5-6) has lost three of its last four matches, and after UNI beat the Huskies in convincing fashion, head coach Ray Gooden was displeased with his team’s consistency.

Consistency has been the focal point for Gooden early on this year and will continue to be his theme throughout the weekend.

“The biggest thing right now is getting to the level of consistency by gaining experience with where everyone is,” Gooden said. “The seniors… they’re in a different role and everybody’s in a different role. While identifying those roles and settling into those roles I think the consistency has been up and down.”

NIU opens the invite with a double header on Friday. The first of its two games comes against George Washington University (4-6) at 2 p.m.

The Huskies hope their recent struggles can be turned around against the Colonials, who have lost three of their last four contests.

Senior Sarah Angelos has been one of the reasons for NIU’s five wins this year. The middle blocker has hit .347 in the team’s wins, as opposed to a .193 hitting percentage in losses.

Angelos is not the lone piece of the puzzle for NIU, which features freshmen playing large roles offensively. Jenna Radtke and Mary Grace Kelly are third and fourth on the team in kills per set, trailing just Angelos and junior Mackenzie Roddy .

George Washington is led by senior outside hitter Rachel Goss, who leads the club in kills and swings, but she is only hitting .105. Opponents have outhit the Colonials .195-.143 this season.

To close Friday’s action, NIU will square off against IPFW (6-6). IPFW is riding a four-match losing streak in which it has failed to win a single set.

NIU’s final match of the weekend is at 11 a.m. Saturday against Oakland University (5-6). The last matchup between the teams was a 3-1 NIU win three seasons ago.

Oakland completes the foursome of struggling teams hoping to turn things around this weekend. Coming in as losers of three of its last four games, Oakland joins NIU as a team looking for nice wins before opening up the conference season.

“Everybody’s trying to get themselves into a good place going into their conference seasons,” Gooden said. “I don’t think any one team is better than the other right now. I think all four are in the same boat.”