Volleyball splits weekend matches against W. Michigan, Miami-Ohio

By Mike Romor

After sweeping its MAC matches last weekend, NIU volleyball hoped for a repeat performance.

The Huskies (13-9, 4-2 MAC) ended up splitting the pair of matches, losing at home before winning on the road.

The Huskies hosted Western Michigan (11-7, 4-2 MAC) Thursday in a match that featured the top two teams in the MAC West.

NIU dropped the match in three sets, 25-23, 25-22, 25-21, as the Broncos took total control on the road.

The Huskies were offensively stagnant against one of the best defensive teams in the MAC.

NIU hit .222 and MacKenzie Roddy was the only Huskie to record double-digit kills, with 13.

Senior Amber Walker, who returned after missing time with an upper body injury, had a match-high 15 digs.

The Broncos were led by Stephenee Yancy, who hit .625 while notching 12 kills on 16 swings.

NIU bounced back Saturday with a commanding three set victory against Miami (Ohio) (5-14, 0-6 MAC), 25-19, 25-17, 25-20.

“I thought we did a very nice job responding and playing well together on the road,” said NIU coach Ray Gooden. “I think that our group came out pretty determined. We did a nice job starting off and playing our game.”

En route to handing the Redhawks their eighth straight loss, NIU hit a season-high .412 with only five attack errors.

Freshman setter Alexis “Pookie” Gonzalez bounced back to guide three different Huskies to double-digit kills.

Senior Meghan Romo notched a match-high 12 kills while Roddy once again reached double figures, posting 10 kills. Junior Sarah Angelos earned 10 kills on 18 swings with no errors.

Gonzalez recorded 33 assists, seven digs, three kills and a service ace in Saturday’s rout.

“Pookie did a good job rebounding from Thursday, as did our entire group,” Gooden said. “It was nice to see. We had contributions from everybody offensively and defensively. It was a good team win.”

NIU’s offensive output was rounded out by senior Mary Kurisch’s five kills and sophomore Emily Paschke’s four kills on eight swings.

“[Emily] got a start tonight and did a real good job,” Gooden said. “It was nice to see her contribute that way in the offense.”

While the offense dominated from start to finish, it would not have been that way without the work of NIU’s defensive specialists.

Throughout the season the offense has been a collective effort and Saturday night it was Sue Hayes who stood out.

Leading both teams with 12 digs, Hayes stepped up to give NIU’s offense a chance to claim the match.

“It felt good to keep a lot of balls alive and give our hitters as many opportunities as they had,” Hayes said.