Spikers see Mid-Con crown on the horizon


Though the NIU women’s volleyball team did extend their perfect Mid-Continent Conference record to 11-0 over the weekend, it wasn’t easy.

The Huskies experienced a mild letdown on Friday against Wright State and on Saturday it got a little worse against Eastern Illinois. But when the match was on the line, the NIU squad put it all together.

On Friday, The Huskies crushed Wright State and overcame some questionable officiating to take the match in three games 15-5, 15-2, 15-8 in the weekend opener. But the final score doesn’t tell the whole story.

Though the Huskies thoroughly dominated the match, at times the team looked out-of-synch and unorganized. The attack was missing some of its bite.

“We started out slow at the beginning of each game,” said head coach Pete Waite. “But once we got on track, there was no looking back.”

In the first game, the tempo was slow and uneven until the Huskies ripped off nine unanswered points. After the Raiders finally answered with a point of their own, NIU put the game away scoring the next six.

The second game was more of the same.

Slowly the Huskies built a 5-2 lead before they took off behind the serving of Becky Ramsey, scoring the next ten points.

The third game saw Wright State jump out to a quick 4-0 lead before Nikki Kozak helped lead the Huskie comeback with some clutch kills to help turn the momentum in NIU’s favor.

For the match, Kozak led the team with 14 kills and had three aces.

On Saturday, the small letdown turned to a big breakdown.

The Huskies jumped out to a 5-1 lead and looked to have their problems behind them. But EIU answered, going up 8-5 before Amy Foulke came up with a big kill to turn the game around for the Huskie win.

Game two was another seesaw battle with the Lady Panthers leading 12-7 before Foulke again led her team by example. The senior middle blocker finished with 14 kills and a .333 hitting clip.

“At Eastern (EIU) played a lot better,” Waite said. “I thought we were a little bit flat … As I look at our team and I see where we want to be, we didn’t take a step forward and improve the level of our game.”

At both matches the crowd really got into the games more than ever before. There was actually noise instead of the scattered applause when the Huskies scored a point or side-out. There was even an impromptu cheerleader show.

“I thought we had a great crowd,” Waite commented. “They were really into it. We had some cheerleaders out there doing some great things and that really helps us.”