Women’s volleyball defeats Central, Eastern Michigan

By Abbe Barton

Halloween weekend ended not being too frightful for NIU volleyball.

The Huskies (20-5, 9-2 MAC) proved their strength and endurance as they beat Eastern Michigan (19-7, 7-4 MAC) in four matches Friday night, extending their season-high winning streak to eight matches.

Although the score was close throughout the majority of the set, the Eagles ended the first match with a kill and won 25-23.

After starting off on the wrong foot, NIU came back in the second, third and fourth sets and dominated.

“We came out with a lot of energy,” said NIU sophomore Amber Walker. “We had an awesome defense, and we stopped the setter early. That was our weakness the first time, but we pulled through.”

NIU totaled 101 digs for the night, which was a season-high as five Huskies totaled double digit digs. Walker led the way with a career-high 32 digs that evening. Huskies’ senior Allison McGlaughlin and sophomore Lauren Wicinski turned in 19 and 15 digs of their own. NIU senior Kristin Hoffman recorded 12 digs, while sophomore Justine Schepler totaled for 11.

Conquering Eastern Michigan wasn’t the only success of the weekend for the Huskies.

Saturday night, NIU (21-5, 10-2 MAC) defeated Central Michigan (14-9, 7-5 MAC) 3-1, putting the Huskies on a nine-match winning streak.

Even though the Huskies were behind most of the first match, they came together and closed the set 25-23.

NIU came into the second set with even less momentum, trailing 4-0 out the gate. NIU came back, though, and eventually took a 17-14 lead after junior Mary Kurisch slammed down an overpass.

Three errors at the end of the set gave the Chippewas an opportunity to turn it around and take a 25-22 win.

Central Michigan took advantage of the 10 Huskie errors, as it managed to hit only .026 in the frame. However, NIU managed to pull through in the third and fourth matches.

The atmosphere of the fourth and final set was more like a battlefield than a volleyball court.

“We put ourselves in a better situation this time,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “We didn’t have balance last time we played them, but this time, that was our main focus. Every time we play at Central it’s important to stay composed and play smart volleyball.”

The score was tied six different times between the two teams, until three consecutive Chippewa errors broke a 20-20 tie.

Kayla Zeno moved the ball into an empty corner of the court to give the Huskies a score of 24-20. Walker made the match winning point with an ace, ending the set 25-20.

“It felt really good to win both games this weekend,” Kurisch said. “We were all mentally prepared. It also helped to know we already had one win in the bag, and we just had to push through another night, and we did.”

The Huskies stand 10-1 on the road, as they have only lost one match away from Victor E. Court.