Final: NIU 3, Nebraska-Omaha 0
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Northern Illinois volleyball team opened up Missouri State's Dr. Mary Jo Wynn/DoubleTree Hotel Invitational with a sweep of Nebraska-Omaha Friday morning at Hammons Student Center. The Huskies (4-5) held .326-.067 hitting and 9-4 blocking edges to take down the Mavericks (4-4), 25-16, 25-14, 25-19.
"I thought our approach to the match was really good," said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden of his team's second sweep of 2012. "I'm happy with how our group came out with focus and energy. We did a lot of good team things today. Our group did a really nice job."
With a 6-4 lead in the first set, senior outside hitter Meghan Romo (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) racked up three kills, and with the help of two Mavs attack errors, NIU jumped out to a commanding 10-4 lead. From there, the Huskies used the spurt to easily close out the set.
The second set played out similarly as the Huskies began with a 13-4 advantage, thanks in part to three kills and two blocks from Romo that fueled the run for another win and 2-0 lead into the break.
Two kills and a block from senior middle blocker Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem) helped push NIU to a 4-0 lead to start the third set. NIU would not look back from there as the closest the Mavs would get the rest of the set was a one-point NIU lead. The first came at 5-4, but Romo answered with a kill. The second was at 8-7, and sophomore outside hitter MacKenzie Roddy (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon) fired back with a kill to get the Huskies rolling again.
As a team, the Huskies hit over .300 (.326) for the second time this season (Green Bay, .344) and posted their second-best serve reception percentage of the season (.953).
For the second straight match, Romo came through huge for NIU. Tuesday against UIC, she notched a career-high 20 kills and topped it versus the Mavs with 21. She also hit a season-high .447, while tallying a career-high nine digs and season-high four blocks.
"She's getting more experience as she continues to play more," Gooden said of Romo. "She did a really good job of starting us out and responding throughout the entire match."
NIU's other outside - Roddy - was stellar as well. She totaled 10 kills and hit a season-best .350. Running the offense, freshman setter Alexis Gonzalez (Fresno, Calif./Bullard) had 27 asssits, six digs, two blocks, two kills on three errorless swings, and an ace.
"[Roddy and Romo] had a really good mindset for the match," said Gooden. "They wanted to be consistent and wanted to make UNO make plays on the ball. They took advantage of their opportunities and did a really nice job."
The Huskies return to action this evening at 5 PM CT against New Orleans (2-2) as the invite continues. Live stats will be available on MissouriStateBears.com and paid video will be available through Bears All-Access.