NIU volleyball to play in Missouri State Invitational

By Mike Romor

Looking for its first road win of the season, NIU volleyball will match up against Nebraska-Omaha and New Orleans in the Missouri State Invitational.

The Huskies (3-5) open up Friday’s action at 10 a.m. against the Mavericks (4-3) and are hoping to bounce back from Tuesday’s tough loss to Illinois-Chicago.

Nebraska-Omaha enters the match following a 3-0 win over Syracuse. The win snapped a three-game skid.

“We have to learn how to do things in the heat of battle as opposed to getting a chance to practice for a while and then play,” said NIU coach Ray Gooden. “There are some areas that we suffer, where we have setbacks, but there are things we will get better with as well.”

The Mavericks are paced by senior outside hitter Natalie Ebke, who leads the squad with 3.08 digs/set and is second in kills with 2.75/set.

NIU, entering its fifth match of its season-long 14-match road trip, is not completely certain about what to expect from its unfamiliar counterpart.

“I think that they are a good, defensive team,” Gooden said. “They scrap really hard. They play a very aggressive kind of volleyball.”

Following Friday morning’s match up, NIU takes the court that night against New Orleans (2-2).

The Privateers feature sophomore outside hitter Laila Hansen. Hansen leads the team in kills, 3.44/set, while boasting 2.88 digs/set.

With no history against New Orleans, Gooden and the team still have plenty to review before the two sides match up.

“I don’t know a lot about them,” Gooden said. “We’re going to watch some tape today on those guys. I think that’s going to be another big match for us to be able to work on our serve and serving issues.”