DeKALB — NIU volleyball fans brought the heat to Victor E. Court Saturday night against the Miami University – Ohio RedHawks. Though fan involvement played a huge role in the match, Miami was able to beat NIU in five sets, 3-2.
The Huskies took the first set 25-21, after being behind 16-10. The Huskies’ monumental comeback was led by first-year outside hitter Kaitlyn Bell and junior outside hitter Kennedy Wallace, with four kills each.
The RedHawks bounced back in the second set, winning 25-17, led by junior right side Sarah Wojick and senior middle hitter Margaret Payne with two kills each. NIU struggled in the set, only having two kills and a negative .020 hitting percentage.
“I thought the kids that are passing for us right now are doing their absolute best trying to handle a lot of the tough serves we see in our league,” Head Coach Ray Gooden said. “I thought [outside hitter Peyton Tilly], even though numbers might not show, she hit positive and was still pretty agressive the entire time, as well as Bell. Both of them continue to improve and do positive things for us right now.”
The Huskies retook control by winning the third set 25-23 on a team match-high .294 hitting percentage. The Huskies were led by Bell with five kills on nine attempts and one dig, while Miami’s top performer was Payne with seven kills.
In Bell’s six matches in conference play, she has had an average of 10.6 kills per match with three of the mathces being road matches.
“In practice I have been focusing a lot on new stuff coming at me,” Bell said. “[Assistant Coach Yohannehs Davidson] and [Gooden] do a really good job of reminding me to work on different techniques. I really feel like I’m getting better.”
Miami tied the match 2-2 in the fourth set, and the RedHawks had a team match-high hitting percentage of .300.
NIU struggled in the set, only posting a .086 hitting percentage and eight attack errors.
Sophomore outside hitter Gaby Harper led the way for the RedHawks in the fourth set with seven kills.
NIU’s top performers were Bell and sophomore middle blocker Jasmine Kemp with three kills each.
The Huskies came up short in the fifth and final set 15-7. NIU posted its game-worst hitting percentage of negative .059 and only four kills. The RedHawks were led by Harper, with four kills in the set.
NIU’s top performer was defensive specialist Kennedy Shelley with five assists and five digs in the fifth set.
NIU’s next match is against the University of Akron Zips 6 p.m. Friday at the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron.