Sept. 23, 2006
Mount Pleasant, Mich. - Northern Illinois Head Volleyball Coach Ray Gooden has often stated that the Mid-American Conference schedule is a dogfight.
Not only did NIU have to take on upstart Central Michigan on the road Saturday night, the Huskies found themselves trailing 2-0 after the first two games.
NIU, however, with its back against the wall, battled back and earned the 24-30, 26-30, 30-21, 30-25, 15-11 MAC victory over the host Chippewas at Rose Arena, completing the conference weekend sweep for the Huskies.
"After the first two games, we had to regroup," Gooden said. "We came back, started over and played very well together.
"Anytime you win in the MAC, it's great," Gooden said. "When it's on the road, it's wonderful."
Huskie senior Kate McCullagh (Woodstock, Ill.) collected 26 of NIU's 58 kills on the evening, marking the fourth consecutive match that the Woodstock, Ill, native has garnered 20+ kills. McCullagh added nine block assists to push the Huskies to a team-best 16.5 total blocks.
Sophomore middle blocker Katie Walsh followed McCullagh with eight kills, while sophomore setter Mandi Caputo (Chicago, Ill.) posted a double-double of 44 assists and 15 digs for her third consecutive double-double.
With the victory, NIU improves to 9-5 overall and 2-0 in MAC play, while the host Chippewas fall to 10-3 on the campaign, and 1-1 in conference action.
The Huskies were victorious despite being outkilled 73-58 on the evening. The Chippewas, however, were undone by a total of 66 errors.
In game five, the Huskies took control from the outset, as they built a 10-6 lead. Central Michigan, however, would not go away quietly, as the Chippewas reeled off five of the next six points to tie the game at 11.
The Huskies staved off the comeback with four straight points, behind two McCullagh kills and a pair of Chippewa errors to earn the 15-11 victory and the match.
Central Michigan's Kate Fissel and Whitney Evers each led the Chippewas with 17 kills, followed by Sarah Warner (15 points) and Mary Ochmanek (10 kills, 11 digs). CMU setter Courtney Kersten posted a double-double of 56 assists and 10 digs.
NIU is back in action on Thursday, as the Huskies travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., to square off with Western Michigan at 7 p.m.