NIU volleyball sweeps Redhawks


Northern Star File Photo-NIU’s Sarah Angelos goes for a kill during a Sept. 16 match against UIC.

By Abbe Barton

Victor E. Court was full of champions Saturday night.

Many NIU volleyball alumnae players were present for Alumni Night, in which Nikki Kozak (1990-93) along with the 1993 team were inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame.

“After last night, we got to go The Hall Of Fame and [to] see those girls, and I think that in itself was pretty good motivation for our team,” said Amber Walker, NIU sophomore defensive specialist. “We really want to represent them and the program now.”

With that added motivation, the Huskies (15-5, 4-2 MAC) swept Miami (Ohio) (12-8, 3-3 MAC), who was their first opponent in the MAC East.

The Huskies came out swinging in the first set, and quickly took a 6-2 lead.

Lauren Wicinski, who was honored earlier that night for becoming the youngest NIU player to reach 1,000 career kills in 54 matches, made consistent aces to help rack up the points for a 10-3 lead.

The RedHawks came back, but were unable to get within three points of NIU at 21-18.

The Huskies continued to score and ended the first set 25-19.

In the second match, NIU battled for the win with each serve..

After a dump by NIU’s Kristin Hoffman and a combo block by Wicinski and Mary Kurisch, the Huskies took the lead, and Miami wouldn’t get it back.

“All week long at practice we’ve been working on defense,” said NIU middle blocker Sarah Angelos. “Also, we watch a lot of film, so we know where the other team is going to hit the ball and where they’re going to be running.”

NIU took the second match with a close score of 25-23.

In the third and final match, the Huskies took an 8-4 lead over the RedHawks. After a Miami timeout, NIU continued to fight and heightened the score to 16-9.

After the Huskies dominated the third match with a total of 25-19, their victory was their 11th sweep of the season.

“We’ve been working on blocks for a really long time, and it was great for us to have it work for us tonight,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “We’re going to have to work really hard on consistency. The style of volleyball in the East is a little bit different than that of the West, so we have to be able to adjust to it.”

The night ended with the Huskies earning 46 total kills, compared to a RedHawks’ 34. NIU also won the battle in hitting percentage (.337-.206), aces (7-2) and digs (41-32). Walker recorded a team-high 12 digs.

“We need to keep working hard and bring a lot of energy to the gym,” Angelos said. “We work really hard on making this gym a great atmosphere and then taking it on the road with us.”