DeKALB, Ill. - Behind a mostly pink-dressed crowd, the Northern Illinois volleyball team won its sixth straight match with a 3-0 victory over Kent State on Friday night at Victor E. Court during NIU's "Spike Cancer" weekend, presented by Kishwaukee Community Hospital.
"It was great to be back at home tonight," said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden. "We are here for Spike Cancer weekend, and while that's heavy in our hearts, I thought we did a real nice job playing against a real athletic Kent State team."
The Mid-American Conference match win moved NIU to 18-5 on the year, 7-2 in league play, while the Golden Flashes fell to 8-16, 1-8 in the MAC. To get their fifth consecutive win against KSU, the Huskies posted large advantages over the Golden Flashes in kills (51-30) and hitting percentage (.336-.167).
"We did a nice job of attacking and did a better job on the block," Gooden said. "I thought we did a nice job of identifying and handling serves as well. It was good for us to finish what we started. We are excited to get this match tonight for NIU."
In getting their 13th sweep of the season, the Huskies began the first two sets with huge runs to win 25-14 in both sets. A 10-3 start to the first set was fueled by four kills from Lauren Wicinski (Geneva, Ill./Geneva). NIU also opened the second set with a 10-3 edge with help from a pair of kills apiece by Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem) and Wicinski.
After starting the third set with a 5-1 lead, the Huskies struggled to put away Kent State as the Golden Flashes would eventually take a 20-19 lead and force an NIU timeout. A few plays later, Wicinski's kill gave the Huskies a 24-23 edge. Following her own serve error, Wicinski put down another ball to set up Allison McGlaughlin's (Morton, Ill./Morton) set- and match-ending kill for a 26-24 win that gave NIU a 4-0 mark against the MAC East Division.
Wicinski led the Huskies with 17 kills and hit .400. McGlaughlin also reached double figure kills with 12, and hit .320 to boot. She also added six digs, including her 1,000th career dig to make her the ninth Huskie to join the 1,000-Dig and 1,000-Kill Club. Her 1,322 career kills stands eight all-time at NIU. Kristin Hoffman (Batavia, Ill./Batavia), the offensive distributor, handed out 40 assists and recorded 12 digs for her fourth double-double of the year.
The Huskies return to Victor E. Court tomorrow at 7 PM CT to face Ohio for the first time since the Bobcats defeated NIU in the MAC championship match last season. Fans that wear a pink shirt to the contest will receive $1 admission. Pink buffs will also be given away while supplies last.