Sept. 28, 2006
Kalamazoo, Mich. - Momentum looked to be swinging in the direction of the Western Michigan volleyball team as the Broncos won game three after dropping the first two, and took a seemingly insurmountable 26-21 lead over visiting Northern Illinois in the fourth contest.
NIU, however, scored nine out of the next 10 points behind a combination of five Bronco errors and four Huskie kills to earn the 30-20, 30-28, 22-30, 30-27 Mid-American Conference victory over Western Michigan at University Arena on Thursday night.
"We were just very composed (during that run)," NIU Head Volleyball Coach Ray Gooden said. "We found ourselves in a good situation and a good rotation and we really served well. We forced some errors, but all in all, it was just a great team win."
Northern Illinois senior middle blocker Kate McCullagh (Woodstock, Ill.) tallied a career-high 34 kills, including three putaways in that 9-1 NIU run in the final game for the Huskies. McCullagh added a career-best hitting percentage for a four-game match with a clip of .483 (34 kills, 5 errors, 60 attacks).
Freshman middle blocker Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio) added 10 kills for the Huskies, while sophomore setter Mandi Caputo (Chicago, Ill.) collected her fourth consecutive double-double with 58 assists and 11 digs. Senior libero Gina Guide (Orland Park, Ill.) garnered a match-high 29 digs on the evening.
The win marks NIU's third-straight win to open the MAC campaign and moves their overall record to 10-6. Western Michigan falls to 11-6 overall and 1-2 in conference action. The win marks the first time that NIU has defeated Central, Eastern and Western Michigan on the road since 1997. It also is the first time that the Huskies have won their first three MAC matches of the season since 2000 and the first time they have captured three consecutive road matches since 2001.
Western Michigan's Katie Eberling led four Bronco players in double-figures with 17 kills, followed by Kathryn Babcock (16 kills, 19 digs), Ashley Vogl (15 kills) and Michelle Moore (10 kills).
Serving proved to be the Achilles heel for the Broncos on Thursday, as WMU committed 14 errors on the night, including three during the Huskies 9-1 run in the fourth game and five during the tightly contested game two.
NIU is back in action on Saturday evening, as they host MAC East Division leading Bowling Green, for a 7 p.m. first serve at Victor E. Court.