Volleyball sweeps Roos in Kansas City tourney

Huskies secure first true road victory of the 2022 season


Courtesy NIU Athletics

Sophomore middle blocker Charli Atiemo celebrates between rallies during an exhibition match against the University of Northern Iowa on Aug. 20. Atiemo was NIU’s co-leader in kills (11) against the UMKC Roos Friday.

DeKALB — The NIU volleyball team secured its first true road win of 2022 after sweeping the University of Missouri-Kansas City Roos 3-0 in the opening match of the KC Roos Classic on Friday.

The Huskies proved themselves capable of holding off a competitive Kansas City team in all three sets, winning 25-23, 26-24 and 25-22.

“Kansas City has such a fast and diverse offense,” head coach Ray Gooden said. “Serving and passing was going to be critical for us. Then, we just did a really good job of winning the tough points.”

Gooden said the ultimate factor in NIU’s success was being opportunistic.

“When we had an opportunity to make things happen, we did that,” Gooden said.

Sophomore middle blocker Charli Atiemo played a crucial role in NIU’s efforts. Atiemo set NIU up for set point in its first two set victories and had the match-winning kill. She and junior right-side hitter Emily Dykes recorded 11 kills each to lead NIU in the match.

“It was cool to be a part of that,” Atiemo said. “To get those kills in that crunch time moment was really awesome.”

NIU was the frontrunner in the early stages of the first set. The Huskies consistently went a point up between ties at 11 and 15. The roles switched from there as NIU chased UMKC until another tie at 23. An Atiemo kill and an attack error by Roos graduate middle blocker Georgia Mullins sealed a 25-23 set victory for NIU.

The competition became much more stiff for NIU in the second set. Both squads drew at almost every point up to 11. NIU received a boost off a 5-0 scoring run to go up 16-11. The Roos steadily chipped away at the Huskie advantage to tie matters up at 22. The Huskies used the same method as the first set to earn their win. Atiemo’s kill set up the set point before UMKC senior outside hitter Raina Smith made an error on the attack.

“I don’t think we’ve ever played like that before so far this season,” Atiemo said. “Everyone did their jobs. Despite UMKC’s competitiveness, we were definitely the better team today.”

The Roos flared up to open the third and ultimately final set by springing off to a 5-2 lead. UMKC held the lead until NIU broke away from a 12-12 tie. The Huskies held onto the lead and ran to a 25-22 set win to complete the road sweep.

“We did a good job of staying steady and being opportunistic,” Gooden said.

The win gives the Huskies a winning record. NIU has a 4-3 record heading into its next matchup in the KC Roos Classic.

NIU will have a short turnaround as they return to the Swinney Center at 11 a.m. Saturday for a battle with the Wichita State University Shockers. The match will be broadcast on Roos All-Access.