DeKALB – Led by 13 kills from junior Mackenzie Roddy and 10 from freshman Jenna Radtke, the Northern Illinois volleyball team capped a perfect Huskie Invitational with a 3-0 victory over Oakland on Saturday morning at Victor E. Court.
The Huskies hit .283 in the match while holding the Golden Grizzlies to just .108, including two sets under .100. With the victory, NIU claims the Huskie Invitational tournament title and improves to 8-6 on the season; the defeat drops Oakland to 6-8.
“In a word, champions,” said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden. “We had three positive matches this weekend against three solid teams. We did a really nice job with our serve reception and our defense. Our pin-hitters did a nice job getting on balls this weekend and we had some really good leadership from our seniors, both on and off the court.”
“I thought our group really came together and continues to build. It was nice to end the non-conference on a positive note. We know now that first phase is done and now the battle is just beginning.”
Neither team led by more than two points in the opening set until back-to-back blocks by the Huskies gave NIU a 13-10 lead. The blocks sparked a 7-2 run that gave NIU an 18-12 lead as the Golden Grizzlies used both of their timeouts. Following a side out for Oakland after the second timeout, NIU went on a 4-0 run to push its lead to 22-13. Oakland saved a pair of set points, forcing a Huskie timeout but a kill by Radtke gave NIU the first set, 25-18. Roddy hit .444 in the opening set with five kills to pace the Huskies, NIU also recorded five blocks in the set.
The Huskies built a three-point lead, 9-6, in the second set until a four-point run by Oakland pushed the Golden Grizzlies in front, 12-11. A kill by freshman Mary Grace Kelly ended the Oakland run and sparked a 5-0 burst that gave NIU a 16-12 lead. Northern Illinois pushed its lead in the set to as much as five, 21-16, before three-straight points for Oakland pulled the Golden Grizzlies within a pair, 21-19. But that is as close as Oakland would get as NIU closed out the second set, 25-22, on a kill by Kelly and took a 2-0 lead.
After the break, Oakland jumped out to an early 7-3 lead in the third set, but a 4-0 run by NIU, sparked by an ace from senior Sarah Angelos off the tape and a Radtke kill on an overpass, pulled the Huskies back even, 7-7. Still tied, 10-10, NIU went on a 5-1 run, capped by a block by junior Emily Paschke. A point by the Golden Grizzlies cut the NIU lead back to four, 16-12, but the Huskies responded with the next four to take a 20-12 lead. Oakland clawed back to within three, using a 6-1 run to cut the Huskie lead to 24-21, but an attack error by the Golden Grizzlies finished the set, 25-21, and gave NIU the sweep.
Northern Illinois outblocked Oakland, 10-4, in the contest, led by two solos and a trio of assists for Radtke. Senior Justine Schepler had a team-high 14 digs for the Huskies.
NIU will return to action next weekend when it opens Mid-American Conference play on Thursday, Sept. 26, in Kalamazoo, Mich., against Western Michigan. The match with the Broncos is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. CT.