Comeback Falls Short as Akron Drops Five-Set Thriller to Northern Illinois
AKRON, Ohio – After a stunning rally in the fourth set to keep the match alive, The University of Akron volleyball team came up just short in the fifth to lose to Northern Illinois 3-2 (23-25, 25-15, 12-15, 29-27, 12-15) Friday night at James A. Rhodes Arena. The Zips fall to 4-16 overall and 1-6 in the Mid-American Conference, while NIU improves to 16-5 and 5-2 in the league.
Senior outside hitter Courtney Jarvis tallied a season-high 19 kills, while sophomore Alex Cocklin also turned in a season-best performance of 14 kills, one shy of her career high. Also reaching double figures with freshman Kymberle Gordon with 11 kills. Defensively, junior Paiton Twitty led the way with eight total blocks, followed by Alex Wiederholt with a season-high five. Twitty also notched seven kills and hit .385 on the night.
As a team, Akron totaled 12.0 team blocks to NIU's 5.0 and swatted a season-high 59 kills while hitting .263 for the match. Setter Morgan Kuhn added 46 assists to help UA record a season-best 53 total assists. The Huskies finished with a .301 hitting percentage and 80 kills.
In the opening set, the Zips owned a 10-6 lead early and were still up by four at 14-10, but NIU responded to even the score at 16. After a timeout, Akron reclaimed the lead briefly, but the Huskies went on to tie it again at 22. The teams traded the next two points, but back-to-back kills from NIU sealed the set at 25-23.
The second set was a different story, as Akron jumped out to a 10-6 lead and then notched five consecutive points to take control at 15-6. NIU struggled to find a rhythm, and the set was never in doubt, as UA cruised to take the frame 25-15 and even the match. For the set, the Zips recorded 16 kills and no errors for an impressive .615 hitting percentage.
After the intermission, the Huskies came to play and took charge from the beginning with a 10-4 advantage. They then used a seven-point run to take a 17-5 lead and never let Akron get close. The Zips only managed 12 points on seven kills, as they dropped the third set 25-12.
Trailing two sets to one, the Zips bounced back in the fourth and play was nearly even with the score still knotted at 14 all. NIU won the next three points to gain a slight edge, but Akron kept fighting to stay within reach. Down 22-17, UA went on a three-point run of its own to make it 22-20, but the Huskies would stop the rally and win the next two. Facing match point, down 24-20, the Zips won five straight points and saved a total of five match points to claim the set 29-27 and force a deciding fifth frame after a thrilling rally.
Akron got down early in the fifth, however, and had to continue to battle back to stay in the match. Down 10-4, UA took the next two points to make it tighter, but NIU went on to make it 13-9. Still working hard, a kill by Jarvis made it 13-10, but the Zips could not pull off another comeback, as the Huskies put the set away, 15-12.
Akron will be back in action on Saturday, Oct. 15, for its annual Dig for a Cure fundraiser against Western Michigan. The match is slated for 5 p.m. ET at the JAR. Pink t-shirts will be on sale, and admission is free. For those unable to attend, live video and live stats will be available through GoZips.com.