Broncos Fall in Road Contest at NIU
DEKALB, Ill. - The Western Michigan volleyball team received outstanding individual performances from a number of players, but the Northern Illinois Huskies held off the Broncos in DeKalb, winning 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-17) at Victor E. Court on Thursday. With the loss, the Broncos fall to 13-11 overall, 6-5 in Mid-American Conference play.
Lena Oliver set a match- and season-high with a 37-dig performance against the Huskies, averaging nearly 10 digs a set as she led the Bronco defensive effort that out-dug Northern Illinois 77-72. Gillian Asque made her first start of the season and jump-started the Bronco offense, notching 16 kills on 31 swings with just four errors for a .387 hitting percentage. Ave Stout was also highly efficient, recording 10 kills on 18 swings with one error for a .500 hitting percentage, and Lexie Pawlik added 45 assists, eight kills, and a .500 hitting percentage.
The teams opened the match with a pair of tightly contested sets, with the Broncos taking the first 25-22 on the strength of a late 5-2 run. The Broncos actually trailed the Huskies 4-2 early in the set, but a number of NIU errors put the Broncos on top by a 7-4 score. The Huskies took their final lead of the set when Alexis Gonzalez made it 14-13 with a kill, but Claire Gerwig tied the set with a kill and Lexie Pawlik put the Broncos on top for good with a setter dump kill to make it 15-14. Sarah Angelos tied the set at 20 with a kill, but Ave Stout ruined any dreams of a Huskie rally in the set with a solo block of Mackenzie Roddy on the next point. Gerwig followed up with a kill on the next point, and Stout ripped a kill on a slide play to make it 23-21. Oliver forced set point with an ace that caught the back line, and Gerwig finished the Huskies off with a kill to give the Broncos a 25-22 win in the first set.
The Broncos rallied back from a large hole in the second set to force the Huskies to sweat out the result, coming back from a nine-point deficit to trail by as few as two points near the end. An attack error by Stout gave NIU a 12-3 lead early in the set, but the Broncos clawed their ways back in and nearly caught up to the Huskies. Alysia Baznik's ace late in the set cut the NIU lead to 21-19, and a solo block from Pawlik made it just a 22-20 set. However, the Huskies pulled away in the final points, with Angelos delivering the winning shot.
The Broncos led for the greater portion of the third set and looked to be on the verge of taking the lead, but NIU pulled ahead late in the set and snatched the win from the Broncos. Asque ripped a kill through the block to give the Broncos their biggest lead of the set at 13-9, but the Huskies scored four straight to tie it up. Stout added a solo block against Emily Paschke to give WMU a 19-17 edge late in the set, but a string of four straight WMU attack errors eventually gave the Huskies a 23-20 lead. The Huskies iced the set with a kill from Mackenzie Roddy to make it 25-21. They carried that momentum over into the fourth set as well, opening on a 10-2 run and eventually wrapping with a 25-17 set win.