Sept. 12, 2009
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The Northern Illinois volleyball team picked up its fifth win of the season after sweeping Tennessee State 3-0 on Saturday morning in the Huskies' (5-6) final match at the Lady Topper Volleyball Invitational at Western Kentucky University, giving NIU a third-place finish.
"We have been going through a tough stretch lately where we have been trying to put together a solid match so it's nice to get a win," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "We were able to pull out the first set and take the second set to go up 2-0 in the match. We started the third set slowly, but rallied back to get the win."
Even though the Huskies out-hit TSU .220 to .071, the story of the match was the NIU defense that totaled 54 digs and tied a season-high with 10 blocks, compared to TSU's 39 digs and two blocks. Cassie Yates (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) led NIU with three blocks, while Meghan Romo (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) had 2.5 and Kaitlyn Pascus (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) had two. In the back row of the defense, Maddie Hughes (St. Charles, Ill./North) led NIU with 20 digs.
"In order to win this type of match, we needed to win the hustle plays," Gooden said. "We did a lot with our blocking and back row on defense that really helped us."
On the offensive side, Allison McGlaughlin (Morton, Ill./Morton) led the Huskies in kills for the third match in a row with 13 and narrowly missed her fourth double-double of the season with nine digs. Romo also reached double-figures with 10 kills. Amanda Tadla (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn) led the offense with 18 assists, while Kristin Hoffman (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) also had 10 helpers.
Down 21-19 in the first set, the Huskies tied the score at 21-21 after a kill by McGlaughlin and an attack error by Terakka Walker, forcing TSU to take a timeout. The Lady Tigers stumbled out of the break with back-to-back hitting errors by Santia Sanders and Shaquita Williams to give NIU a 23-21 advantage. The teams then exchanged points before a McGlaughlin serve error and a kill by Vicmari Prospero knotted the score again, 24-24. In the next sequence, Romo put down a kill to give NIU set point, but Prospero matched with a kill of her own. Romo then notched another kill to give NIU its second set point and the Huskies took advantage to win the set 27-25 after a kill from Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio/Northview).
"I thought Romo did a good job for us, scoring some pretty big points in that first set," Gooden said.
With the Huskies up 10-8 in the second set, NIU went on an 8-2 run to open an 18-10 lead. However, the Lady Tigers countered with a 9-2 run to pull within one point, 20-19. After a Huskie timeout, NIU went on a 5-1 run, taking advantage of a pair of attack errors by TSU to help end the set 25-20 after Schoenrock once again capped it with a kill.
"We just lost focus in the middle there," Gooden said. "We have to do a better job of maintaining. They put some pressure on us and fortunately we were able to still get the win."
After a slow start in the third set, the Huskies recovered from a 7-2 deficit to take a 20-18 lead after an attack error by Williams that caused TSU to take a timeout. On the next play, Romo tallied a kill to give NIU a three-point lead. McGlaughlin then missed on a swing, but recovered on the next play for a kill to keep the lead for the Huskies, 22-19. Then with McGlaughlin serving, NIU scored on a block by Pascus and Romo that was followed by an attack error from Kamille King. After a kill by TSU's Yamari P-Collazo cancelled NIU's first match point, 24-20, Pascus ended the match with her only kill of the day on the next play.
"We had a couple free-ball opportunities that helped us in the third set," Gooden said. "Monica Lang had a couple of really big digs that helped us out a lot."
For her performance throughout the entire weekend, Hughes was named to the all-tournament team as she registered 46 digs (5.11/set) and had just one reception error in three matches.
"I thought Maddie had a solid weekend as an individual," said Gooden. "She really played well."
After seven consecutive road matches, NIU returns home on Tuesday to face Milwaukee at 7 p.m. CT at Victor E. Court.