March 14, 2006
DeKalb, IL -- Winning is always good. Winning on the road? Even better. Coming from behind? Still sweeter.
Coming back from the brink of defeat? That's priceless.
"We'll certainly take it and run with it," admitted Northern Illinois University women's volleyball head coach Ray Gooden after his Huskies rallied big time for a 3-2 season-opening triumph Friday (Aug. 26) night at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
After the host Flames posted a 30-23 game one victory, Northern Illinois saw a game two lead evaporate into a 30-27 loss. As difficult as it may be to believe a relatively young visiting team coming back, that's exactly what the Huskies did. NIU ran off triumphs of 30-24 and 30-26 before finding iself down 8-5 in the decisive fifth game. After pulling even at 10 apiece, it was Northern Illinois which ended up on top in a see-saw battle that produced a 19-17 finale.
"The entire team really deserves credit for this one," Gooden insisted. "When we were down 2-0, we could've easily lost 3-0, but instead we fought back real hard, one game at a time. One person can't do that."
In addition to starting the 2005 campaign with a 1-0 mark heading into tonight's 7 p.m. home Victor E. Court opener against the University of Northern Iowa, the Huskies registered a season-opening triumph for the 10th consecutive campaign. The loss leaves Illinois-Chicago with an 0-1 ledger.
Statistically, the Flames outhit NIU in a contest that showed both teams had a shaky start. UIC posted 62 kills minus 34 errors in 175 attacks for a .160 batting average on offense while NIU's .114 efficiency was a result of also nailing 62 kills, but having 41 miscues in 185 swings.
Individually, Kate McCullagh (Woodstock) led the charge with a match-high 33 kills minus 16 errors in 97 attempts for a .175 hitting percentage. Freshman Joelle Beisel (Rossville, IN) was the only other Huskie to post a twin-digit kill tally with 15 putaways leading to a contest-best .367 efficiency.
"Kate certainly did a good job as proven by 33 kills and Joelle stepped up and contributed to the attack. Defensively Gina Guide
(Orland Park/Sandburg) did a real good job of digging balls," Gooden said while noting her match-high tally of 26 digs.
"We knew the freshmen would need a little time to adjust and settle in, but I thought all three got a good taste of college volleyball and contributed to our success," Gooden added.
Frosh setter Jenny Dziubla (Elgin/St. Edwards) notched 46 assists in directing the Huskie victoy while Irene Johnson (Schaumburg) tallied five kills, a .200 hitting percentage, plus a solo block and three block assists.
Illinois-Chicago's Katarina Nedeljkovic, a Horizon League All-Newcomer, topped a trio of Flames with double-figure kills as she tallied 26 putaways minus 13 errors in 64 attempts.
Both teams are back in action today in DeKalb as the Flames take on Northern Iowa's Panthers in a high noon showdown at the Convocation Center's Victor E. Court. UNI's Panthers then remain in town to serve as the opposition for Northern Illinois' 7 p.m. home opener.