Oct. 6, 2007
Muncie, Ind. - John E. Worthen Arena has not been a friendly place to the Northern Illinois volleyball team as over the last 15 years of its history the Huskies have only been victorious one other time. The Huskies found themselves down 2-0 to Ball State and the outcome of the match was looking bleak until they put together three solid games to complete an exciting comeback victory over the Cardinals 27-30, 23-30, 30-18, 30-26, 15-9.
"It was a historic event for us to get back-to-back wins at Worthen Arena," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "Ball State plays so well at home and we were excited to battle them and play some good volleyball."
With the comeback, the Huskies (9-11, 3-3) picked up their third straight Mid-American Conference win while the Cardinals drop to 3-15, 2-4 in MAC play.
"Wins in our division are great for our confidence," Gooden said. "To get a couple wins this weekend on the road does a lot for our team."
With game one tied 8-8, BSU used a 7-2 rally to take a 15-10 lead behind two kills each from Christine Kennedy and Julie Breivogel. The Huskies countered with a 6-1 run to knot the score, 16-16, using three kills from senior Laura Baetzel (Chicago, Ill. / Burbank Queen of Peace). A pair of kills from Breivogel along with a service ace and a NIU attack error gave BSU the advantage again, 20-16. The Cardinals were then able to ride their lead to a 30-27 win.
The Huskies had an early 5-3 advantage in game two that vanished quickly with a 10-1 charge by Ball State to give the Cardinals a 13-6 lead. BSU was once again able to maintain their lead and go up 2-0 in the match, winning 30-23.
In game three, NIU jumped out to a quick 12-2 lead, getting three kills from junior Irene Johnson (Schaumburg, Ill. / Schaumburg). The Huskies then extended their lead on route to a 30-18 win behind five kills from Johnson.
"The girls were determined [after being down 2-0,]" said Gooden. "They didn't want to lose. They came out on fire and did it."
A pair of kills from sophomore Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio / Northview) helped NIU to an early 9-5 advantage in game four. The Huskies held their lead and with a 23-19 score, NIU extended their lead to 26-20 following two putaways by Baeztel and a Cardinal error. The Huskies were then able to finish off the game, 30-26, to force game five.
The lead exchanged hands several times early on in game five until the Huskies broke away with a 7-5 lead after a BSU error and a kill by Baetzel. Following two more Cardinal errors, a block by sophomore Jessica Schultz (Beaver Dam, Wis. / Beaver Dam / Kishwaukee C.C.) and Johnson and another kill by Baetzel extended the NIU lead to 10-6. Both teams then exchanged points and BSU cut the NIU lead to12-9 after a Huskie attack error. After calling a time-out, NIU responded with a kill from Schoenrock and a service ace by sophomore Monica Lang (Chicago, Ill. / Marist) along with a BSU attack error to end the game and match, 15-9.
The NIU comeback was headed by Johnson, who had 16 kills and 12 digs. Also registering a double-double was senior Mandi Caputo (Chicago, Ill. / Immaculate Heart of Mary / DePaul), who tallied a team-high 46 assists and 18 digs. The Huskie offense also received help from Schoenrock's 16 kills and Baetzel's 12.
Defensively, NIU had four players reach double-digits in digs. Along with Caputo and Johnson, freshman Maddie Hughes (St. Charles, Ill. / North) added 15 digs and Lang contributed with 14.
"It was a defensive struggle tonight," Gooden said. "We needed to play good defense and we did with our blocks and digs. We had to do it on that side of the ball to give ourselves the match."
The Cardinals were led by Brittany May and Breivogel, who each totaled 19 kills. Angie Parrell also added 56 assists and 18 digs for BSU. Defensively, Alyssa Rio tallied a team-high 27 digs for BSU.
The Huskies return to action on Friday, October 12 when NIU heads to Akron, Ohio to take on the Zips at 5 p.m.