PEORIA, Ill. - Less than 15 hours after sweeping SIUE, the Northern Illinois volleyball team had the tables turned on itself as Long Beach State won a 25-23, 25-12, 25-19 decision Saturday morning at Renaissance Coliseum during Bradley's CEFCU Classic. The 49ers (5-5) stayed in system for nearly the entire match as they topped the Huskies (8-7) in kills (46-36), hitting (.291-.122), digs (60-50) and blocks (10-5).
"Tough, tough loss against Long Beach," said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden. "I thought they did a really nice job of putting themselves in good spots to score. It's a learning experience for us to understand what the best teams in the country play like. So we will have to use that information and really battle hard in our last road match of the non-conference season against Bradley this afternoon."
The first set played a crucial role in the match as NIU held a 22-19 lead after a combo block from senior middle Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem) and sophomore outside MacKenzie Roddy (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon). Out of an LBSU timeout, though, the 49ers rallied off three straight points to force an NIU timeout. An LBSU attack error on the next play put the Huskies ahead again, 23-22. But then the 49ers' Alex Reid scored three straight kills to claim the set and kill the momentum the Huskies had going all set.
In the second set, LBSU opened with a 10-5 lead after two straight Huskie errors. NIU never recovered in the frame as the 49ers ended it with a 15-7 run to take a 2-0 lead into the break.
NIU battled hard in the third, opening up a 16-14 lead after a kill from senior outside Meghan Romo (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso). However, the 49ers quickly regrouped after a timeout and went on an 11-3 to close out the match and improve to 3-0 all-time against the Huskies.
Kurisch led the Huskies with 12 kills and a .476 attack percentage, while Romo also reached double figures with 10 kills. Freshman setter Alexis Gonzalez (Fresno, Calif./Bullard) totaled 31 assists and 11 digs for her eighth double-double and fifth straight.
NIU continues its 14-match, 23-day road trip later today against the host Braves. The Huskies, who are 6-5 on the excursion thus far and have won five of their last seven matches, will face Bradley (6-4) at 3:30 PM CT to close out the weekend.