BEAUMONT, Texas - Behind a 47-29 kills advantage, the Northern Illinois women's volleyball team defeated Lamar 3-0 Thursday night at McDonald Gym. The win gave the Huskies (8-2) their sixth straight on an eight-game, 12-day road trip.
"We started this trip 12 hours ago, came down here and played in a real nice place," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden of his team's sixth three-set win and third in a row. "Lamar is a real nice, young team. I was really proud of our group, our complete group tonight. Everybody had a chance to get some reps in. Our serving and passing still stayed pretty strong, and we did a real nice job in transition. It was a really nice to start the weekend like this. We had good attacking from our players and also did a really good job on defense."
In the first meeting between the two teams, NIU opened up with a strong first set, taking a 7-2 lead after a putaway from Mary Kurisch. Lamar (1-7) closed within one point, however, 7-6. But NIU got it going again quickly with help from three kills by Lauren Wicinksi that gave the Huskies a 14-11 lead. A few plays later, Wicinski followed up an Allison McGlaughlin kill with a blast that forced Lamar to take a timeout, down 20-15. The break did little to stop the Huskies as Wicinski closed the set by putting down an overpass for a 25-18 win. An 18-7 kills advantage fueled NIU as it took a 1-0 lead in the match.
Up 15-10 in the second set after a line shot by MacKenzie Roddy, it seemed as if the Huskies would cruise to win the set. However, Lamar closed within two, 19-17, after a Wicinski attack error. After an NIU timeout, Kristin Hoffman misfired on a dump attempt to bring the Cardinals within one. But that was as close as Lamar would get as Sarah Angelos tallied a kill to put NIU up 20-18. The Cardinals matched with a kill but Wicinski answered with another kill and Hoffman followed with an ace, putting the Huskies up 23-20. After a Lamar kill, Kurisch put down a kill and a long Cardinal attack ended the set 25-21 in favor of the Huskies. Four aces and a .370 hitting percentage in the set helped NIU grab a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third set, the Huskies opened a 16-9 lead after a Kurisch ace, forcing Lamar to call timeout. But the Huskies kept the pressure on, taking an 18-11 lead after a Lamar serve error and Wicinski kill. From there, NIU cruised to a 25-19 win to claim their 12th straight set, dating back to a 3-1 win against Marquette on September 3rd.
As a team, the Huskies outhit Lamar .316-.195. Wicinski paced the offense with 16 kills to go with a .303 hitting percentage. McGlaughlin was sharp as well, hitting .412 with eight kills. She also added 10 digs. As did Amber Walker, who had a career-high three aces to boot. Hoffman ran the offense with 38 assists.
The Huskies continue their Texas trip Saturday in Nacogdoches, where they will play two matches at the Ladyjack Invitational. First up is a tilt with Texas A&M (7-0) at 10:00 a.m. CT. Then NIU faces host Stephen F. Austin (6-3) at 4:00 p.m.