Sept. 3, 2011
Final Box: NIU 3, MU 1
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois women's volleyball team defeated Marquette 3-1 Saturday morning at the Bluejay Invitational at D.J. Sokol Arena. The 27-29, 25-23, 25-23, 26-24 win moved the Huskies (5-2) to 2-0 against Big East opponents this season and 11-3 all-time against the Golden Eagles (3-3).
"We are learning from the past about building a résumé," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden of his team who lost to Marquette in its final match of the 2010 season with a possible NCAA Tournament appearance on the line. "This was a good résumé builder. It was nice to rebound from last year's tough loss against them. This helps us out a lot to defeat them here on a neutral floor."
Entering the match, NIU was 0-2 when being outhit by its opponent, which is what Marquette did to the Huskies, .313-.277. However, NIU's season-high 67 digs, 64 kills and nine aces helped the Huskies capture their third straight victory.
"We knew that ball control would be very important," Gooden said. "We didn't have the best attacking numbers, but we did a good job of touching the ball and creating opportunities to swing."
A tightly-contested match all the way through, the Golden Eagles came out on top in an extended first set. The Huskies fought off four set points before MU's Danielle Carlson set up a fifth set point with a kill and Lauren Wicinski was unable to counter with an attack error.
Down 13-8 early in the second set, NIU bounced back with a 12-7 run to knot the score at 20 with help from five Wicinski kills. After the teams exchanged points, Allison McGlaughlin stepped up to tie the match. The senior totaled back-to-back kills to force Marquette timeouts after each. Then, after consecutive Golden Eagle kills, she followed up a putaway by Mary Kurisch win another blast to the floor to end the set.
"Marquette really put a lot of pressure on us early," Gooden said. "We weren't playing like we were capable of playing. I give credit to them for that. Once we settled down, we played much better Huskie volleyball. We were then able to turn points and regain control toward the end of the second set."
Narrowly trailing most of the third set, NIU broke a 22-22 tie with a kill from Wicinski and solo block by McGlaughlin. Following an MU timeout, Ciara Jones kept the Golden Eagles alive with a kill. After NIU took a timeout, MacKenzie Roddy notched a kill to put the Huskies up 2-1 in the match.
In the fourth set, NIU started strong by opening up a 14-9 advantage and forcing Marquette into an early timeout. The Golden Eagles would eventually catch up to the Huskies, however, tying the game at 24 after consecutive aces from MU's Ashley Beyer. Feeling momentum possibly slipping away, Wicinski answered the call. The 2010 Mid-American Conference Player and Freshman of the Year tallied a kill and served up an ace to secure the match.
"Beyer hit some good serves at the end," said Gooden. "Luckily, we were able to control the ball and get a tough serve on them to finish it off."
With her sixth double-double of the season, Wicinski led the Huskie offense. The reigning MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week compiled 22 kills, 11 digs and a season-high six aces, which tied her career best total for a match. For the second match in a row, McGlaughlin notched a double-double as well, totaling 15 digs and 13 kills.
Two other Huskies turned in double figure digs, too. Kristin Hoffman had a season-high 14 to go with 47 assists and four kills for her first double-double of the season. Amber Walker racked up 12 digs to give her four consecutive matches with 10 or more digs.
Additionally, Roddy achieved a season-high 10 kills and hit a solid .346. She had just one error on 26 swings.
"Every match MacKenzie has played she's gotten a little more comfortable," Gooden said. "We needed a point to win the third set and she got that for us. She's playing solid volleyball right now. She's been a good lift for our team."
The Huskies wrap up the Bluejay Invitational later today at 5:30 p.m. CT against South Dakota. Live stats and video will be available on GoCreighton.com.