Volleyball splits pair

By Ben Gross

NIU volleyball coach Ray Gooden barked, “Block three balls and we win this match,” to his team as they went into game five against Central Michigan on Saturday night at Victor E. Court.

Middle blocker Kate McCullagh, produced a block early in the game to start things off.

With CMU up by a point, NIU freshman setter Jenny Dziubla blocked a ball to tie the game.

After Dziubla, McCullagh produced the third block in the game, giving the Huskies a 10-9 lead.

The Huskies got the three blocks, and the Huskies got the victory.

The Huskies (8-8, 1-1) came back from behind to beat CMU (3-9, 0-2) 15-13 in game five. (30-24, 27-30, 28-30, 30-27, 15-13)

On Friday, the Huskies opened the MAC season with a loss to Eastern Michigan (7-4, 1-0) in three games. (26-30, 15-30, 27-30).

When reflecting on the match against EMU, Gooden could only think about the mental anguish his team felt.

“They frustrated us,” said Gooden. “Every quality ball we hit they would dig. We had our chances in game one, but didn’t take advantage of it.”

McCullagh led the team with 16 kills and produced 13 digs in the three games against EMU. Junior libero Gina Guide led the team defensively with 17 digs.

After winning the first game Saturday night against CMU, the Huskies lost the second and third game.

Facing elimination in game four, the Huskies pulled together and held onto a lead against CMU.

Going into game five the team had a mission about controlling the pace of the game.

“We went into [game five] wanting to control the momentum,” McCullagh said. “The main object was to take control of the game.”

Although the Huskies walked away with the win, McCullagh felt the team could have done better.

“We should have taken them to only three [games],” the Woodstock native said.

McCullagh led the team with 29 kills and was third in the team with 9 digs.

Guide led the team defensively with 22 digs over the five games.

“It wasn’t really difficult,” said the Orland Park native. “It always feels good to take a way a good hit from a player.”

“I almost think it’s good that we split,” said McCullagh, reflecting on the weekend. “Now we know what a lost and a win feels like.”

Gooden feels differently about the results of this weekend.

“Losing is never good,” said the fourth-year coach. “But it was nice to end up with a split.”