March 14, 2006
Denver, CO - The Northern Illinois University women's volleyball team put forth a valiant effort against Montana in the opening match of the Denver Invitational, but it was not enough, as the Grizzlies held on for the 32-30, 30-28, 30-28 victory over the Huskies at Hamilton Gymnasium on Friday night.
With the victory, Montana improves to 9-3 overall, while the Huskies drop to 7-5 on the campaign.
Junior middle blocker Kate McCullagh (Woodstock) notched a match-high 24 kills to lead NIU. That mark ties her with Amber Howard (vs. Buffalo, 11-7-98) for the third-most kills in school-history for a three-game set. McCullagh tied the school-record in NIU's last match with 25 kills against Bradley in the championship match of the Radisson Hotel Invitational, hosted by the Braves.
NIU freshman middle blocker Joelle Beisel (Rossville, IN) posted a match-high, hitting percentage of .448 (18 kills, 5 errors, 29 attacks) while freshman setter Jenny Dziubla (Elgin) added a match-high 43 assists.
The difference in the game was the Huskies' performance from behind the service line, as NIU committed nine service errors in three games. NIU also was done in by seven ball-handling errors.
"We had a tough night from behind the service line and with our ball control," NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden said. "We had a lot of errors tonight, and you can't do that sort of thing against a team like Montana.
"To have all those errors and to only lose by six points is unfortunate."
Montana's Claudia Houle garnered a double-double of 14 kills and 12 digs for the Grizzlies, while teammate Emily Sakis chipped in 12 kills in the victory.
Northern Illinois will be back in action at 2:00 p.m. (CST) on Saturday afternoon, as the Huskies will square off with Portland.