Oct. 18, 2013
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Northern Illinois University volleyball team was dealt another tough road loss Friday night in Alumni Arena when Buffalo defeated the Huskies, 3-2.
NIU (11-10, 3-4 MAC) held a 2-1 lead through three sets against the Mid-American Conference’s best defensive unit, only to have the host Bulls (16-4, 4-3 MAC) take the final two sets. The loss also ends the Huskies’ 10-match winning streak against UB.
“We’re so close to playing so well, but we couldn’t pull it out tonight against a team that plays well at home,” said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden. “They made plays when they needed to. We just couldn’t make those kind of plays.”
“We’re learning how to be successful on the road and getting close to put it together.”
The Huskies gained an early advantage on the Bulls with a 5-1 run to open the first set, only to have UB counter with a 6-0 rally en route to an 8-6 lead. After NIU slid back ahead with a 9-8 lead, the Bulls went on another 6-0 run and grabbed a stranglehold of the set with a 14-9 edge. That advantage dealt a huge blow to NIU’s hopes for an opening set win, as UB was able to maintain at least a three-point lead en route to a 25-18 first set win.
NIU and UB traded jabs to open the second set, as the two sides stood at a 9-9 deadlock after a UB kill. That’s when a Mackenzie Roddy kill sparked a 7-2 Huskie run – which also included two Mary Grace Kelly kills and an Alexis Gonzalez ace – to stake a 16-11 lead. The Huskies pushed that lead to six and later eight points as they would cruise to an easy 25-17 set win prior to halftime. In the second set alone, NIU posted a .394 attack percentage and 17 kills.
UB gained the early advantage in the third with a 5-2 lead out of the gate. Yet, the Huskies fought back and got to a 7-7 tie following back-to-back Kelly kills. NIU eventually moved ahead following two Bull errors, then got a 12-10 lead after a Jenna Radtke kill. UB got to within 13-12, but a 5-1 run gave the Huskies a sizeable 18-13 edge. After UB got to within 21-18, Roddy almost single-handedly ended the Bull rally with a kill and an ace to go along with two Bull mishaps to give NIU a 25-18 third set win.
After a split in the first 10 points, the Bulls got a well-timed 5-2 run to take a 10-7 lead on the Huskies. The hosts’ lead grew to four at 13-9, but a 3-0 Huskie run keyed by a Radtke kill and block solo got NIU to within 13-12 and eventually a 14-14 deadlock. Each team remained neck and neck until the Bulls broke a 20-20 tie when NIU was penalized a point for being out of rotation. That penalty sparked a 5-1 UB run that gave the Bulls a 25-21 fourth set win to set up a winner-take-all fifth set.
Following three consecutive points from UB to open the fifth, the Huskies rattled off five-straight points of their own to move ahead, 5-3. The two-point NIU lead held until 9-7 when the Bulls tied the set at 9-9 and later at 10-10. With the match in the balance, UB got a kill and an NIU ball handling error to put the Huskies in a 12-10 hole. Though a Bull service error got NIU within one, the Huskies could not overcome UB and fell in the deciding set, 15-12.
Kelly led the Huskie offense with 20 kills and a .326 hitting percentage on the night, while Roddy scored on 19 spikes and Gonzalez totaled 44 assists in the loss. Defensively, Justine Schepler notched 19 digs and Radtke recorded six blocks.
The Huskies finish their weekend tomorrow at Akron when battle the Zips in a 4 p.m. contest inside the Rhodes Arena.