March 14, 2006
DeKALB, IL - When it comes to volleyball in the Mid-American Conference West Division, a dogfight is usually expected, as four teams are within one match of second place.
Two of those teams were on display Friday night, as the visiting University of Toledo Rockets, led by four players in double-digit kills, picked up a hard-fought, five-game, 23-30, 30-26, 30-28, 21-30, 15-7 MAC triumph over Northern Illinois University at Victor E. Court.
Toledo senior outside hitter Chelsey Poquette topped the Rockets with 17 kills, followed by Kate Bean (15 kills), Corrie Magnus (13 kills) and Kelsey Culver (13 kills).
"At times we were playing good volleyball, but we need to keep that level of consistency against the better teams," NIU Head Volleyball Coach Ray Gooden said. "That's what it is right now."
With the victory, Toledo improves to 12-7 overall and 5-2 in Mid-American Conference play, while the Huskies fall to 10-11 on the campaign and 3-4 in MAC action.
NIU saw a career performance from junior middle blocker Kate McCullagh (Woodstock) go to waste, as the Woodstock, IL, native recorded a triple-double of 24 kills, 11 total blocks (1 solo) and a career-high, 17 digs.
"That has to be the first time in a long time," Gooden said of McCullagh's triple-double. "I thought Kate played pretty well and gave us a big effort tonight, but unfortunately there were a lot of times we needed her to score in not the most optimal situations."
Senior middle blocker Corinne Walsh (Evergreen Park) and sophomore outside hitter Amy Ward (Sycamore) each added 11 kills in defeat. Senior libero Marie Zidek (Orland Park) added 25 digs, which tied her for fifth in school-history for a five-game match, while freshman setter Jenny Dziubla (Elgin) chipped in 44 assists.
After dropping two of the first three contests at the hands of the Rockets, NIU bounced back with a convincing 30-21 triumph in game four. During that game, McCullagh recorded 11 kills and Dziubla was on the service line for a key 8-0 run that put the game away for the Huskies.
"We served well, we touched the ball on the block well, scored well and those are the things that you need to do, and we did a good job at it," Gooden said.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, NIU was held to a hitting percentage of -.211 in game five as Toledo clinched the match with the 15-7 win.
"Hopefully some of the younger players can learn from this and get better," Gooden said. "The bottom line is that we're playing against teams that we know we can beat.
"We just need to give that effort, because it gets no easier."
NIU will be back in action on Saturday night as the Huskies host Ball State University for a MAC showdown beginning at 7 p.m. at Victor E. Court in the NIU Convocation Center.
(For further information, please contact Matt Brendich) - NIU -