DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois volleyball team continued to play well against the Mid-American Conference East Division as the Huskies achieved their second straight sweep of a cross-divisional foe by beating Buffalo 25-23, 25-14, 25-16 Friday night at Victor E. Court. The win marked NIU's (14-9, 5-2 MAC) 10th straight over the Bulls (7-12, 1-6) and gave a 15-2 edge to NIU in the all-time series.
"This was a real good start for our group on homecoming weekend," said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden of his Huskies, who have now won four of their last five at home. "It's nice to continue to be at home and have positive success. We had great energy from the crowd."
The Huskies jumped out to sizeable leads early in each set to pave the way to victory. In the first, NIU held an 11-5 lead thanks in part to four UB attack errors. However, the Bulls blocking presence gave the Huskies fits near the end of the frame. Up 20-13, NIU saw its lead disappear following three huge UB blocks and two straight kills. Down 22-21, senior outside hitter Meghan Romo (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) ended the run with a kill around the UB block. After an NIU serve error, Romo put one off the UB block to tie it at 23. Then senior middle blocker Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem) gave NIU a chance at set-point on a slide and sophomore outside Emily Paschke (Winfield, Ill./West Chicago Community) ended the set during the next sequence with a cross-courter over the Bulls back row to the far corner.
In the final two sets, NIU was smarter around the Bulls blocks as UB would only tally three more blocks the rest of the way, compared to the four in the opening stanza. The Huskies used an 11-3 run to open the second set behind three kills and an ace from sophomore outside MacKenzie Roddy (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon). In the third set, it was an 11-6 run fueled by four more Roddy kills that left too large a deficit for the Bulls to overcome.
Solid offense and tough serving led to NIU holding 34-28 kills, .229-.082 hitting and 6-1 aces advantages. Roddy led the match with 13 kills and hit a stellar .344, adding two aces to boot. Kurisch and fellow middle Sarah Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) each hit over .333 and racked up six kills apiece.
"I thought MacKenzie Roddy did a really nice job tonight for our team," Gooden said. "I thought our team did a really nice job of helping each other out, especially when Buffalo was doing a solid job of blocking. We battled and came out on top. It was a good start for our group and we'll have another tough test tomorrow."
Defensively, senior libero Amber Walker (Juneau, Alaska/Juneau Douglas/Western Oregon) led the match with 13 digs. In the front row, Paschke paced NIU with a career-high four blocks.
NIU continues cross-divisional play tomorrow at 7 PM CT as Akron (10-8, 3-3 MAC) comes to Victor E. Court during homecoming weekend. The match will have live stats and video through NIUHuskies.com.