Volleyball travels out west for start of its four game road trip

Volleyball travels out west for start of its four game road trip

By Mike Romor

After opening the season at home, NIU volleyball is headed to unfamiliar territory this weekend as the program competes in Stockton, Calif.

The Huskies (2-2) will open up the Community Bankers Classic, hosted by Pacific, against Nevada at 7 p.m. Friday (1-2).

NIU is coming off a dominant performance Tuesday against Green Bay while Nevada comes in hoping to bounce back from back-to-back losses over the weekend from Baylor and Texas A&M.

NIU and Nevada both have not had the starts they were hoping for, but NIU coach Ray Gooden is hopeful his squad can come out strong Friday night.

“I feel like we are in good shape for this weekend,” Gooden said. “We feel confident with our progress so far and this weekend should be fun.”

With no recent history against Nevada, Pacific or Portland State, Gooden and the team have been looking over plenty of film to figure out what to expect against the west coast counterparts.

“They’re all really big teams that do well with the block and are pretty physical,” Gooden said. “We’re going to have to use our style and work really hard against them.”

The trip to the west coast is a homecoming of sorts for Huskies’ MacKenzie Roddy and Alexis Gonzalez, who are both California natives.

Although Gonzalez, a freshman, has only been in DeKalb for a short time, she is anxious to travel back to her home state.

“It feels great. Some of my family is coming out to watch us play,” Gonzalez said. “It’s an exciting feeling. I remember Ray saying that during the four years I’d be here we’d go to California and I was kind of surprised that it was only a month after I got here.”

The trip is a bit of an incentive for Gonzalez and Roddy to perform at their highest levels. After Tuesday’s win against Green Bay, NIU found out just how good the offense can be when run through Gonzalez and led by Roddy.

Against the Phoenix, Roddy notched a career-high 19 kills while Gonzalez recorded 45 assists and continued to show she is a worthy replacement for Kristin Hoffman, who last season was the only Huskie ever named MAC Setter of the Year.

“I like trying rise to the occasion,” Gonzalez said. “I like having the control on the court and having the team’s trust in me. Our team has great chemistry and we’re all really close on the court and off the court.”