NIU Volleyball: KC Roos Classic champions

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Sean Reed

Senior Katie Jablonski serving during the first set of NIU Volleyball’s game against SDSU on Aug. 26 (Sean Reed | Northern Star).

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Editor

DeKALB — The Huskies closed out competition at the KC Roos Classic with a 3-0 triumph of the Wichita State University Shockers Saturday, their second-straight sweep of the weekend.

Sophomore middle blocker Charli Atiemo served as NIU’s finishing blow in two sets after delivering back-to-back set winning kills. Her performance comes a day after NIU’s win over the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Atiemo set up for set point in that match’s first and second set and recorded a kill on match point.

The Shockers and Huskies kept close to each other in the early rallies before NIU set off on its first scoring run. Wichita State made its best efforts to close in, coming as close as two points, down 14-12 at one point. NIU all but ended the Shockers’ chances with a 6-0 scoring run to go up 23-14. A combination of NIU kills by junior right-side hitter Emily Dykes and Atiemo secured NIU 25-16 win.

The beginning of the match’s second set quickly became a shootout as NIU and Wichita State had tied seven times by the 20th rally, when tied at 10. NIU took control from there, earning the lead with a trio of kills. The Huskies played keep-away with the advantage until they claimed the second set 25-22 with Atiemo’s third-straight set-winning kill.

NIU came out of the gates in the third sets with a flurry of scoring, building a quick 5-1 advantage. The lead did not switch hands at any point in the final set. The Huskies’ had a lead as large as 10 points after going up 20-10. Wichita State pulled off a valiant 5-0 that was for naught. NIU completed its second sweep in as many matches with two kills to bring about set point and a Wichita State error to finish it.

Outside hitter Katie Jablonski and Dykes led the weekend in Huskie kills. Both players recorded 22 kills each in NIU’s match against Kansas City and Wichita State.

Saturday’s victory allowed the Huskies to leave Kansas City as the champions of the KC Roos Classic. NIU now has a record of 5-3 with two matches remaining before league play begins.

The next matchups on NIU’s schedule will see the Huskies play at home for the first time in three weeks. The University of Rhode Island Rams and the University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles come to DeKalb for matches on Friday and Saturday respectively.

“This week, we’ll work on getting ourselves rested and ready to work on taking another step,” head coach Ray Gooden said. “Despite getting two wins this weekend, there’s still plenty of volleyball for us to improve on and to get better at. So, we’re going to search for more quality over quantity and continue to work on becoming a better team.”

NIU’s bout with Rhode Island begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Victor E. Court. The match will be broadcast on ESPN3.