Aug. 25, 2006
DeKalb, Ill. - Northern Illinois University head women's volleyball coach Ray Gooden had an inkling of what was in store for the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in their opening match of the NIU / Comfort Inn and Suites Invitational on Friday (August 25) night.
"We had one of the best sessions of practice yesterday since I've been (at Northern Illinois)," Gooden said.
That impressive practice performance carried over into Victor E. Court, as the Huskies, edged the Colonels, 34-32, 31-33, 30-20, 19-30, 15-13, behind solid performances from junior outside hitter Amy Ward (Sycamore, Ill.), senior middle blocker Kate McCullagh (Woodstock, Ill.) and freshman outside hitter Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio).
With the victory, NIU improves to 1-0 on the season, while the Colonels drop to 0-1 on the campaign.
Ward posted a match-high 24 kills, followed by 23 from McCullagh and 19 from Schoenrock in her collegiate debut. Schoenrock proved to be the nail in the coffin for EKU in the final game, as she collected seven of her 19 kills, including the final point of the match.
Sophomore setter Mandi Caputo (Chicago, Ill.) also impressed in her debut, as the DePaul transfer tallied a double-double of 67 assists and 17 digs. Senior libero Gina Guide (Orland Park, Ill.) continued to impress defensively, picking up a match-best 29 digs on the evening.
That performance pleased Gooden, who is looking to take some of the load off of McCullagh, who finished seventh in the nation in 2005 with 5.39 kills-per-game.
"We're getting better at (balancing our attack)," Gooden said. "Some people stepped up and did a real good job tonight and that was great to see. There's a lot of people that came in and did a lot of good things, like Monica Lang (Chicago, Ill.)...Maria Benitez (Lincoln, Ill.) came in and served some critical balls for us at the end."
EKU's Amy Arlinghaus topped four Colonels in double-digit kills with 19 putaways, followed by Shelley George (16 kills), Jessica Sabath (14 kills, 22 digs) and Kasha Brozek (12 kills).
NIU is back in action at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, as they will battle with Saint Louis, followed by a nightcap against Western Illinois (7 p.m.).