DeKALB – The Northern Illinois volleyball team dropped a 3-0 decision to the Northern Iowa Panthers Tuesday night at Victor E. Court.
The loss sends the Huskies to 5-6, while the Panthers move to 7-4 and extend their winning streak to six.
“We’re continuing to battle against tough teams,” said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden. “Northern Iowa is an historic program and they played really well tonight. We had flashes of playing some pretty good volleyball. Again, for us, it’s about being consistent. With a team that’s continuing to build, it’s (about) consistency.”
“The biggest thing for us now is continue to understand how we have to fight to get better.”
Things got off to a great start for the Huskies against the Panthers. Started by back-to-back kills from Mary Grace Kelly and Mackenzie Roddy, NIU opened up an 8-5 lead on UNI to force the visitors to burn a timeout. Though the Panthers tied the match back up at 11-11 and 12-12, the Huskies responded with another lengthy run, this time a 9-6 rally – thanks in part to kills from Roddy, Kelly, Jenna Radtke and Sarah Angelos – that put NIU in control, 21-18. Yet, UNI countered that with a 7-1 run that clinched the set for the Panthers.
UNI’s momentum clearly carried over into the second set, as the Panthers took a fast 12-4 lead on the Huskies. Undeterred, NIU got on the comeback trail and built an 11-6 run to get within 18-15 and force the Panthers to burn a timeout. UNI’s lead, however, proved to be insurmountable, as they would close out the set on a 7-3 run to claim a 25-18 set two win.
Faced with a two-sets-to-none deficit, the Huskies allowed the Panthers to take an early 4-1 lead in the third set. NIU came back with blocks from Lauren Zielinski and Kayla Zeno and a Kelly kill to tie the set at 5-5. Moments later, UNI used a 7-3 run to move ahead 13-9 at the halfway point of the third. The Huskies countered the Panthers again and utilized some UNI errors and kills from Emily Paschke, Zeno, Zielinski and Roddy to move ahead 18-17 – their first lead since the first set. The Panthers quickly extinguished the Huskie momentum with an 8-3 run to clinch the set, 25-21, and the match.
Roddy led the NIU offense with 12 kills, while Kelly and Radtke each chipped in nine. Justine Schepler keyed the Huskie defense with 19 digs, including nine in the first set alone.
The Huskies return to action Friday and Saturday, as they host the Huskie Invitational. NIU opens the tournament with George Washington Friday at 2 p.m., followed by IPFW at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Northern battles Oakland at 11 a.m.