GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Northern Illinois women's volleyball team passed its first road test of the season after sweeping Green Bay 3-0 Tuesday night at the Kress Events Center. The Huskies (3-2) have now won their first road match of the year in three straight seasons as they improved to 19-1 all-time against the Phoenix (1-3) and won their 16th consecutive contest against GB.
"I thought we did a nice job in our first road match of the season," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "We protected the ball and did a really good job of serving and putting pressure on Green Bay. When they are in-system, they do a real nice job of running their slides. It's good to get our first win on the road tonight. It will help us as we go through this road swing."
In the first set, Sarah Angelos delivered a kill off a slide to give NIU a 16-13 lead and forced GB into a timeout. Out of the break, MacKenzie Roddy served up an ace and an overpass that Angelos putaway to give the Huskies a commanding 18-13 lead. Roddy then teamed with Mary Kurisch on a block to give NIU a 25-19 win and 1-0 lead in the match.
NIU opened the second set with a 4-1 run to cause the Phoenix to burn an early timeout, which helped GB tie the score 11-11 after a wide shot by Angelos. After GB erased another three-point NIU lead, the Huskies broke a 15-15 tie with back-to-back kills from Kurisch and an ace by Lauren Wicinski. Following a Phoenix timeout, Roddy served up another ace to put NIU up 19-15. A few plays later, Allison McGlaughin powered a ball off a Phoenix defender to give NIU a 25-20 win and 2-0 lead in the match.
Trailing by two points for most of the third set, NIU used a 7-2 run to claim a 13-10 lead after Angelos hammered down a GB overpass. However, the lead was short lived as the Phoenix scored three straight to tie the score, 13-13. After the teams exchanged points, Wicinski's tip found the floor and then she put away an overpass. Continuing NIU's momentum, Kurisch and Roddy combined for a block to give the Huskies a three-point cushion, 17-14. A few plays later, NIU went up 21-16 on a GB attack error.
Just when it looked like NIU was going to cruise to victory, the Phoenix mounted a 6-1 run to knot the score at 22. Out of a Huskie timeout, NIU regained the momentum as McGlaughlin and Angelos scored on consecutive kills. Wicinski then closed the match with a well-placed tip to give NIU the 25-22 win and their second sweep of the season.
McGlaughlin led the Huskies with 11 kills and a .409 attack percentage after she started the match with a perfect 4-for-4 first set. Angelos also reached double figures in kills with 10. Kurisch led the front row with five blocks, and added nine kills. For the first time 38 matches, Wicinksi, the reigning Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the Week, did not reach double digits in kills. She came up just shy with nine, but led the team with 19 digs. Amber Walker turned in 11 digs to join Wicinski in double figures. Kristin Hoffman ran the offense efficiently with 34 assists and was a perfect 3-for-3 in kill attempts.
"Our middles played really well," said Gooden. "They did a nice job of blocking and attacking."
As a team, the Huskies held GB to a .185 hitting percentage while hitting .256. NIU also outkilled the Phoenix 47-35.
The Huskies next head to Omaha, Neb., this weekend for the Creighton Invitational, featuring contests against host Creighton, Marquette and South Dakota. NIU begins the weekend with a Friday 7:00 p.m. CT match versus Creighton, who ranked 33rd last season and made the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies finish the invitational Saturday with a 10:00 a.m. match against Marquette, who ranked 47th in 2010, and a 5:30 matchup with South Dakota.