MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Central Michigan was unable to prevent key runs by Mid-American Conference foe Northern Illinois Friday night, falling in straight sets inside McGuirk Arena, 25-21, 25-18, 25-19.
The Huskies (16-11, 8-5 MAC) used pivotal runs in each of the three sets to create separation from the Chippewas (11-14, 5-8 MAC) and held off each and every attempt by CMU for a comeback.
The two squads played even through the first 18 points of the match as a kill by senior Danielle Gotham tied set one, 9-9. The Huskies then went on a quick 4-0 run that forced a CMU timeout and held the four-point advantage until junior Kaitlyn McIntyre tried to take over. McIntyre slammed home a kill to pull CMU within four, 22-18, and then sandwiched a pair of aces around a kill by Gotham to pull CMU within a point, 22-21. A service error on the junior returned the serve back to the Huskies however and they were able to score the next two points to win the set, 25-21.
Again CMU and NIU were even through the first 18 points, 9-9, in set two before another quick 3-0 run by the Huskies forced a CMU timeout. NIU continued to push forward, extending the run to 9-2 for a 19-11 lead. CMU went on a 4-0 run of its own which included another ace by McIntyre to pull within four, 19-15, but it was as close as the Chippewas would get as NIU went on to claim a 25-18 victory.
The third set started in the Chippewas’ favor as McIntyre dug a ball with a flick of her foot and scored the first point of the set on a kill, but a kill by NIU’s Mary Grace Kelly started a 9-0 run midway through the set that pushed the Huskies in front, 15-7. A kill by McKenzie Roddy held NIU’s eight-point lead, 21-13, but CMU attempted one final comeback with a 4-0 run that included a pair of kills by senior Katie Schuette to pull within 21-17. NIU stalled the rally with a timeout however and went on to score four of the next six to close the match, 25-19.
McIntyre led the Chippewas with eight kills and a season-high three aces, while Gotham finished with seven kills and Schuette six. Three huskies posted double-digit kill marks, led by Roddy’s 13 as NIU held a .298 to .141 advantage in hitting percentage.
CMU will look to snap its three-match skid Saturday night versus rival Western Michigan. Saturday marks Senior Night as the Chippewas will celebrate the careers of four seniors prior to the match at 7 p.m.