Volleyball defeats Bowling Green on Senior Night

By Mike Romor

After a loss Thursday on the road against Western Michigan, NIU volleyball knew it had to end its weekend strong against the top team from the MAC East.

NIU (19-13, 10-6 MAC) did just that, defeating Bowling Green (18-10, 13-3) on Senior Night in front of a packed audience at Victor E. Court.

“We continue to learn about ourselves,” said coach Ray Gooden. “The good thing is that we played strong after the match against Western. Now we just have to take that same kind of energy and do that at the MAC Tournament.”

Seniors Sam Grams, Sue Hayes, Mary Kurisch, Meghan Romo and Amber Walker all made solid contributions in their final home match.

“I thought the seniors stepped up tonight, but I thought the other girls stepped up for them, too,” Gooden said. “They made sure we defended our house against one of the top teams in the conference. We’ve been very fortunate with our support this year and it’s really nice for us to be able to have a good ending to a solid part of the year.”

The Huskies were sluggish out of the gate but turned it on after dropping a sloppy second set. Coming out of the intermission, the Huskies seemed confident the match was theirs for the taking and dominated toward the end of the third set.

“It definitely helped having momentum going into the fourth set,” Kurisch said. “We really wanted to win it and weren’t going to let anyone down at that point.”

The Huskies hit just .187 through the first two frames before finishing with a .250 hitting percentage. Kurisch led the Huskies offensively with a team-high 15 kills and a .387 hitting percentage.

Defensively, Walker came through with a great all-around performance, setting a career-high with five service aces while collecting a match-high 18 digs.

“We try not to put a lot of stress on games, but we knew if we could beat the No. 1 team in our conference then we could have really good momentum going into the MAC Tournament,” Walker said. “It’s always fun to play with a crowd and they always keep you energized.”

Romo also chipped in with a huge effort at the net, finishing with 11 kills and five blocks, four of which were solo, which tied a career high. She also picked up four digs.

“It was our last match [at home] so I just really wanted to win it for the team,” Romo said. “I think we did a really good job handling pressure situations and taking control of the match.”

The win secured the fourth seed for the Huskies in the MAC Tournament, which starts Friday in Geneva, Ohio. NIU will match up against No. 5 Akron. NIU won the last meeting between the two teams on Oct. 13 at home in five sets.