Oct. 17, 2009
AKRON, Ohio - The Northern Illinois volleyball team extended its winning streak to five matches and earned its second consecutive Mid-American Conference road win as the Huskies defeated Akron in four sets on Saturday night at James A. Rhodes Arena.
"As the MAC becomes more and more crazy each week, it was great for our team to get two solid victories on the road," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden.
After losing the first set 25-22 to the Zips (10-12, 2-6 MAC), the Huskies (11-10, 5-3 MAC) stormed back to win the second set 25-18 to set up the important swing set after the break.
In the third set, NIU came out strong with a 10-5 advantage after a kill from sophomore Kristin Hoffman (Batavia, Ill./Batavia). Several plays later, the Huskies extended their lead to 19-12 following a kill by sophomore Allison McGlaughlin (Morton, Ill./Morton). From there, the NIU cushion was enough to hold off a late run by Akron that narrowed the Huskie lead to 22-20 as senior Cassie Yates (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) gave NIU a 2-1 advantage in the match after her power-tip on NIU's second set-point ended it, 25-22.
"In an environment where we were not comfortable, we knew that the third set was going to be pivotal for momentum in the match," Gooden said. "I really thought that whoever won the third set had more than a good chance to pull it off in four."
Similar to last night's fourth set against Buffalo, the Huskies jumped out to a large early lead in the fourth frame against the Zips as they led 7-1 after a kill from senior Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio/Northview). However, Akron would climb within one point, 11-10, after a kill from Liz Martin. But NIU then went on a 9-3 run to open it up again and help claim the match after a 25-18 win.
"We started off very strong with Maddie Hughes' serving," Gooden said. "Akron made two runs in that set, but we were able to pull off a couple key points."
Three Huskies reached double figures in kills as Schoenrock led the way with 20 and added a season-high five blocks. Yates tallied 13 kills with a .579 attack percentage and McGlaughlin had 11. Hoffman paced the offense with 44 assists and had nine digs.
"I thought Cassie did a nice job of attacking for us tonight," said Gooden. "As a whole, we did a really good job of blocking too."
Junior Maddie Hughes (St. Charles, Ill./North) led the defense with 18 digs, while senior Monica Lang (Chicago, Ill./Marist) added 11.
The Huskies return to the court next weekend as they begin a four-match homestand with a MAC contest against Ohio at 7 p.m. (CDT).