NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Northern Illinois women's volleyball team closed out an eight-match, 12 day road trip with a 3-1 win over host Stephen F. Austin to close out the Ladyjack Invitational at Shelton Gym on Saturday evening. The Huskies (9-3) finished the road swing with a stellar 7-1 record as they improved to 3-0 all-time against the Ladyjacks (6-5).
"We played a really good team match tonight against a strong Stephen F. Austin team," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "At the end of the trip we end up 7-1. It has given us really good experience and helped us get a lot of information about our team. We will take this into next week when we get to be back home and see Victor E. Court again. We are very happy with the results of this road trip."
The Huskies held sizeable edges in kills (58-45), hitting percentage (.352-.162), digs (55-45) and blocks (9-4) to pick up their ninth win of the season. NIU's nine blocks were a season high.
NIU started the first set off strong as they never trailed and outhit SFA .273-.143. The Huskies opened with a 10-4 run to induce an early Ladyjack timeout. The break did not do much to stop NIU as a few plays later a Lauren Wicinski and Mary Kurisch combo block put the Huskies up 18-10 as they cruised to 1-0 match lead after a 25-17 win.
The Huskies began solidly again in the second set, grabbing a 13-8 lead after a Kristin Hoffman ace. After an SFA timeout, NIU retained the five-point lead, 18-13, after a kill from Wicinski. Then the Ladyjacks put together a 9-4 run to capture the momentum and tie the score at 22. Following a kill and Huskie attack error, SFA had a chance for set point following an NIU timeout. Sarah Angelos answered with a kill of a slide but the Ladyjacks answered with a kill on the next play to even the match with a 25-23 set victory. Even though the Huskies hit .375 in the set, they couldn't slow the Ladyjacks, who hit .483.
In the third set, NIU took the lead early again, going up 12-6 after an Angelos and Wicinski combo block. The Huskies held the lead for the remainder of the set, but needed to regroup after the Ladyjacks scored three straight points to keep it a six-point game, 18-12. Out of a timeout, the Huskies scored on an SFA error and Allison McGlaughlin kill en route to winning the set 27-17 and taking a 2-1 advantage in the match. As they did in the first set, the Huskies outkilled the Ladyjacks 15-10, and outhit them .345-.000.
Up 10-7 in the fourth set, NIU went on a 10-3 run to help put away the Ladyjacks as the Huskies outhit (.419-.056) and outkilled (15-8) SFA to win 25-13.
Kurisch paced the Huskies with a robust season-high .765 hitting percentage and 13 kills. She also tied a season high with five blocks. Wicinski also had 13 kills and hit .417. Angelos tallied a season-best 11 kills and hit .526. Kristin Hoffman paced the offense with 46 assists.
Defensively, Amber Walker totaled a career-high 22 digs, reaching double figures for the ninth consecutive match.
For the invitational, Hoffman and Wicinski were named to the all-tournament team as the Huskies took second place. Hoffman tallied 85 assists and 15 digs. Wicinski led the team with 35 kills, adding nine digs, three aces and two blocks to boot.
Next up for the Huskies is a six-day layoff before hosting Illinois-Chicago on Friday, September 16, at 7:00 p.m. CT. The match will be the first of a four-match home stand for NIU.