March 14, 2006
Akron, OH - With their backs firmly planted against the wall, the Northern Illinois University volleyball team, led by three players with at least 20 kills, fought tooth and nail for the 27-30, 30-17, 28-30, 35-33, 15-10 Mid-American Conference victory over the University of Akron at James A. Rhodes Arena on Thursday night.
"It was truly an up and down affair," Northern Illinois head coach Ray Gooden said. "We understood the pressure that we were under coming into tonight's game and responded.
"It was a great team win and a great effort for us against a hungry Akron squad."
With the victory, NIU improves to 14-16 overall and 6-9 in Mid-American Conference play, while the host Zips fall to 10-19 on the campaign and 4-12 in MAC action.
NIU junior middle blocker Kate McCullagh (Woodstock) led all players with a match-high, 28 kills, 13 of which came in game four. Huskie sophomore outside hitter Amy Ward (Sycamore) added 25 kills, followed by 20 kills from senior middle blocker Corinne Walsh (Evergreen Park).
NIU freshman setter Jenny Dziubla (Elgin/St. Edward) posted a double-double with a career-highs of 76 assists and 17 digs. Freshman middle blocker Katie Walsh (St. Charles/North) tallied 11 kills, while junior libero Gina Guide (Orland Park/Sandburg) tallied a team-season high 34 digs, one short of tying the school-record.
Trailing 2-1, the Huskies were on the brink of defeat as Akron had match-point on two occasions in game four and each time, NIU bounced back on their way to the 35-33 victory to move on to the fifth and final contest.
That momentum carried over into the final game for NIU, as the Huskies took a 8-4 lead over Akron heading into the turn, behind a pair of kills from both Corinne Walsh and McCullagh. The Zips fought back to within two points at 11-9, but the Huskies pulled away with a pair of Ward kills, a kill from McCullagh and a service ace from Dziubla to claim the match.
Akron's Mara Capparuolo and Jennifer Steward each posted 17 kills to top the Zips, followed by both Emily Kocinski (16 kills) and Molly Rutledge (14 kills).
NIU will be back in action on Friday evening, as the Huskies travel to New York to square off with Buffalo at 5 p.m. (CST).
(For further information, please contact Matt Brendich) - NIU -