Nov. 22, 2013
GENEVA, Ohio - Despite dropping the first set, the Northern Illinois University volleyball team bounced back in a big way by winning the next three sets in a 3-1 victory over the Bowling Green Falcons in the Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
After a rough first set, NIU (19-12) hit .333 in the remaining three sets against fourth-seeded BGSU (14-15), while notching six service aces and 6.5 blocks over the final three sets. The win sets up a semifinal matchup with the tournament's top seed, the Ohio Bobcats.
"First off, Bowling Green's a great team and it was going to take a really good match for us to be successful," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "It was nice for us to settle ourselves down after that first set and just play the good type of volleyball we've been playing the last few weeks."
Mackenzie Roddy paced the Huskie offense with 18 kills and Sarah Angelos added 16 spikes and a .424 attack percentage in the victory. Seniors Kayla Zeno and Tori Halbur were excellent from the service line with three and two aces, respectively, while Alexis Gonzalez recorded 45 assists. On defense, Justine Schepler posted a team-high 16 digs and Jenna Radtke had a match-high five blocks.
NIU and BGSU matched each other point for point in the early goings of the opening set. Though the Falcons got a slim 4-2 lead to start, the Huskies quickly closed the gap with a 4-1 run capped by a Radtke/Roddy block to make it a 6-5 lead. BGSU, though, responded with a 5-0 run of their own to make it 10-6. Though the Huskies got back to within two at 10-8, the Falcons grabbed control of the set with a big 10-2 run to coast to a 25-15 win in the first stanza.
The Huskies found their offensive rhythm in the second set, taking a quick 4-2 lead behind kills from Angelos, Mary Grace Kelly and Gonzalez. That two-point cushion held until BGSU knotted the set at 8-8. However, NIU took a stranglehold in the set with a 4-0 run that included consecutive service aces from Zeno. The Falcons clawed back to within 16-14, but the Huskies squashed any hopes of a comeback with a relentless offensive attack from Angelos, Kelly and Roddy en route to a 25-22 set win. In total, NIU totaled 20 kills and a .417 attack percentage in the set.
Following the intermission, the Huskies were on a mission by scoring 10 of the first 11 points in the set en route to a massive 15-3 lead. During that stretch, Halbur notched two aces in an 8-0 run, while keeping the BGSU offense completely off-balance. NIU extended the lead to a set-high 16 points at 21-5 during another 10-2 run. Despite a late rally by BGSU, NIU cruised to a 25-14 set three triumph and posting a scorching .435 hitting average.
Facing elimination, the Falcons got the early advantage and held it all the way to 12-8. Yet, the Huskies quickly closed that gap with a 4-0 set-tying run that includes two spikes from Angelos. After BGSU moved back ahead, 14-12, the Huskies used another 4-0 rally to take a 16-14 lead. The Falcons tied it at 16-16, but kills from Angelos and Radtke sandwiched around a Radtke/Roddy block put the Huskies up for good at 19-16 and an eventual 25-19 set win.
The Huskies and Bobcats face off in tomorrow's first semifinal, which is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. CT. Live stats and video streaming will be available on MAC-Sports.com.