Oct. 22, 2010
KENT, Ohio - Trailing 2-1 in the match, the Northern Illinois volleyball team outlasted Kent State on Friday night at the M.A.C. Center in a cross-divisional Mid-American Conference competition, 25-15, 20-25, 22-25, 27-25, 15-11. The West Division first place Huskies bettered to 22-2, 8-1 in league play, while the Golden Flashes dropped to 10-14, 3-6 in the MAC.
"We had a really good start, played well in the first set," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "Then, Kent did a really good job of forcing us to do different things to be successful. It really challenged us in sets two, three, and four."
Despite being narrowly outscored 72.5 to 71, NIU fought its way to its eighth straight victory and remained a perfect 6-for-6 on the road. In taking the match to its extent, the Huskies gathered their fifth win in six five-set matches, including their fourth in MAC play.
In getting their fourth consecutive win and improving to 24-6 all-time over KSU, the Huskies featured an evenly-distributed offense that out-killed Kent State 63-58. Freshman outside hitter Lauren Wicinski (Geneva, Ill./Geneva), junior outside hitter Allison McGlaughlin (Morton, Ill./Morton), and freshman Sarah Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) each totaled double figure kills. Wicinski fronted the attack with 19 kills, and added nine digs. McGlaughlin registered her ninth double-double, and seventh in her last eight matches, with 16 kills and 15 digs. In her fourth contest with 10-plus kills, Angelos turned in a season-high-tying 12 putaways. While running the offense, junior setter Kristin Hoffman (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) dished out 56 assists and had nine digs.
"Kent has a really good block, they do a really good job up front," Gooden said. "It was nice to get production from a variety of players tonight."
Two back row players were also huge factors on the night. Senior libero Maddie Hughes (St. Charles, Ill./North) dug up 20 balls, which is her 11th match in a row in double digits. Sophomore defensive specialists Sue Hayes (Evergreen Park, Ill./Mother McAuley) notched her fifth match with 10 digs or better with 10.
"We got solid defense out of not only Maddie, but our entire back row, including Sue and Allison," Gooden said.
NIU came out strong in the first set by out-hitting KSU .314-.032 and racking up 17 kills, while giving up only eight. The Huskies jumped out to a 13-7 lead, forcing the Golden Flashes to take a timeout, but NIU kept rolling for a 10-point decision.
Tied 17-17 in the second set, KSU tied the match with an 8-3 run with help from three Huskie errors. NIU managed just seven kills to the Golden Flashes' 15.
In the third set, NIU trailed 20-19 but could not overcome a .036 hitting percentage as a KSU kill and Huskie error pushed the deficit to three. NIU called a timeout to regroup, but it didn't work as the Golden Flashes maintained the three point edge to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Down 13-8 after a timeout in the critical fourth stanza, NIU clawed its way back, eventually tying the score at 22-22 following a KSU attack error. The teams exchanged kills until a Golden Flashes attack error after a McGlaughlin kill gave NIU a chance to knot the match. McGlaughlin did just that on the next play with another putaway to send the game to the fifth set.
"We got two big kills from Allison [to end the fourth set]," Gooden said. "That opportunity [to keep the match going] was what we were thankful for and took full advantage of."
The Huskies were sharp in the final, and most important, set as they hit .400, as opposed to KSU's .211 attack percentage. NIU took an 8-5 advantage at the turn following a McGlaughlin kill and never looked back.
NIU gets back to action tomorrow against MAC East second place Ohio (13-9, 5-4 MAC) in Athens, Ohio, at 6 p.m. (CT). The Bobcats will be looking to rebound from a 3-0 loss at home to MAC West second place Western Michigan.