Aug. 28, 2007
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DeKALB, Ill. - Despite a stand out night from junior Irene Johnson that included 19 kills and 12 digs, the Northern Illinois volleyball team was outdistanced by Illinois State, 3-1 (30-28, 26-30, 30-24, 31-29), Tuesday.
Huskie head coach Ray Gooden saw the loss as a part of his team's evolution.
"We're learning how to play hard together all the time," he said. "With so many possibilities, everybody needs to be ready to go, and we're trying to find that combo that will work."
Down two games to one, Northern Illinois took a 25-20 lead in game four, but an 11-4 Redbird run gave ISU a 31-29 victory, truncating Huskie aspirations of a fifth game.
Illinois State's closing run was similar to its opening spurt, which placed NIU in a 6-1 hole. The Huskies counterattacked, bringing them within one point six times before eventually losing game one 30-28.
Northern fared better in game two, where it capitalized on seven kills from Dani D'Ambrose (Addison, Ill./Addison Trail) to capture a 30-26 win over the Redbirds (3-1, 0-0 Missouri Valley).
Illinois State responded in game three with a 30-24 win, partly thanks to 17 Huskie errors and a .069 attack percentage in the period.
Johnson's (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg) 19 kills led all attackers, and she also contributed four blocks. Huskie Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio/Northview) added 15 kills.
The Redbirds had three players reach double-digit kills, as Peggy Riessen totaled 18, Kari Staehlin tallied 16 and MC Richmond put down 10.
"They try to get balance in their offense, too," Gooden said. "The good from the match is that we had a pretty good night against MC Richmond, one of their best players."
Defensively, Northern's Maria Benitez and Illinois State's Kasey Mollerus both had 18 digs, and each team blocked 20 opponent attacks.
Northern Illinois returns to action at the Butler Invitational, where it will play Utah Valley State, August 31 at 2 p.m.