Oct. 3, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois volleyball team picked up its first Mid-American Conference win of the season by sweeping Miami (Ohio), 25-20, 25-21, 25-19, on Saturday night at Victor E. Court during NIU's homecoming weekend as the Huskies (7-10, 1-3 MAC) out-blocked the RedHawks (8-8, 3-1) 15 to seven and stayed ahead of Miami for nearly the entire match.
"This is just a great win for the Huskies tonight," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "I thought we played a really nice team match."
NIU took control of the net early in the first set by taking a 5-0 lead with help from three straight blocks. Sophomore Kristin Hoffman (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) and freshman Mary Kurisch (LaCrosse, Wis./West Salem) teamed up for the first block. Then Kurisch and senior Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio/Northview) paired up for the final two blocks.
"Miami is such a strong program and we feel like they do their best work at the net, both attacking and blocking," Gooden said. "It was nice for us to challenge one of their strengths early in the match with our blocking."
The Huskies then took an 8-1 lead after a Schoenrock kill, but Miami countered with a 10-3 run to knot the score, 11-11. Several plays later, NIU broke a 15-15 tie with a 5-0 run that helped the Huskies take the set.
In the second set, NIU opened up an 11-7 lead after a Miami attack error and that was enough of a cushion for the Huskies to maintain to go up 2-0 at the break.
With the score tied 11-11 in the third set, the Huskies broke away with a 6-1 run that included back-to-back aces by Hoffman. NIU was then able to ride the momentum to claim the victory.
"I thought Kristin, on the whole, did a really good job of leading the team tonight," Gooden said. "This was probably her best match she has played for us so far in her career here."
Hoffman had a well-rounded night with 33 assists, nine digs, three kills, three aces and two blocks, while Schoenrock led the Huskie offense with 12 kills. Additionally, senior Cassie Yates (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) hit .615 with eight kills on 13 swings with no errors.
"I thought Cassie did a real nice job of getting back to the level that we saw her at earlier in the season," said Gooden. "I also thought our two rookie middles, Kaitlyn Pascus and Mary Kurisch, did a really nice job today."
On defense, Kurisch and Schoenrock led the way with four blocks apiece. Sophomore Allison McGlaughlin (Morton, Ill./Morton) led the team with 15 digs, while junior Maddie Hughes (St. Charles, Ill./North) added 14.
The Huskies return to Victor E. Court next weekend for a pair of conference matches. First up will be a 7 p.m CT contest against Central Michigan on Friday and then NIU will face Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m. on Saturday.