Volleyball sweeps Toledo, overcomes Ball State in road games

By Mike Romor

After splitting its two home matches last weekend, NIU volleyball knew what it had to get the job done on the road.

The Huskies (18-12, 9-5 MAC) did just that, sweeping Toledo (8-19, 2-12) and downing Ball State (13-14, 6-8) 3-1.

NIU opened strong against Toledo and other than a shaky third set, held complete control of the match.

Outside of their -.020 hitting percentage in the third frame, the Huskies hit over .300 in every set.

“I think our team is becoming more and more dialed in with what we’re trying to do,” said coach Ray Gooden. “It was pretty good Friday against Toledo. We won, but we’ve also struggled there before.”

NIU’s offense was led by senior outside hitter Meghan Romo’s team-high 14 kills. Sophomore MacKenzie Roddy contributed with 12 kills while senior Mary Kurisch had 11 kills with no errors on 27 swings, ending with a .407 hitting percentage.

Kurisch’s offense was nothing compared to her defense, however, as she posted eight blocks (three solo, five assists) up front. Fellow junior middle blocker Sarah Angelos had eight blocks (all assists) as well, which was more than enough to rattle Toledo.

“They did great,” Gooden said. “They did their job up there and the serving helped a lot with it. All these things kind of all worked together. Our good serving gave us a chance to set up some good blocks.”

Roddy and libero Amber Walker tied for a team-high 17 digs, while defensive specialists, senior Sue Hayes and junior Justine Schepler had nine and eight digs respectively. Hayes and Schepler also had two service aces apiece.

After a welcomed day off Saturday, NIU continued its all-around dominance at Ball State.

The Huskies outhit the Cardinals .352-.217 and hit over .400 in two of three sets en route to their first sweep in Muncie since 1990. NIU was once again paced by a team-high 15 kills from Romo.

Kurisch had yet another stellar offensive performance, hitting .550 with 12 kills and one error on 20 swings. Roddy finished with 11 kills and two service aces while Angelos ended with a .348 hitting percentage and nine kills.

“Mary had a great weekend,” Gooden said. “She went through the weekend with only one error. It’s great to see her doing good and being a force at the net.”

Defensively, Kurisch led the Huskies with four blocks. Kursich had match highs in blocks in both contests over the weekend.

As a team, NIU had 57 digs to Ball State’s 47. Walker was much of the reason, posting an impressive 25 digs in just three sets, which easily led all players.

“All the bumpers did a really good job,” Gooden said. “I thought even Roddy did great in the back row and I thought everybody who played back there stepped up and did a great job.”