DeKalb, Ill. - In the first meeting since Northern Illinois lost to Ohio in the 2010 Mid-American Conference championship match, the Huskies avenged the tough loss with a 3-0 sweep Saturday night at Victor E. Court. Capping a 2-0 "Spike Cancer Weekend," presented by Kishwaukee Community Hospital, the Huskies improved to 19-5, 8-2 in league play, while dropping the Bobcats to 15-9, 7-3 in the MAC.
"All I can say tonight is this was a great win for the Huskies," said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden. "This group was looking forward to this match -- some since last November -- but especially after last night's performance against Kent State."
Sparking NIU to its season-best seventh consecutive victory were energy and hustle that led to positive discrepancies in kills (45-33), hitting percentage (.205-.155), and digs (57-47).
"We did a great job tonight of playing defense against a very physical Ohio team that continues to block well," Gooden said. "We stayed in a lot of rallies and were able to win critical points at critical times."
The Huskies roared out of the gate, taking an 11-4 lead in the first set after a putaway by Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem). With the Bobcats reeling, NIU closed out the set 25-18 with help from a 14-9 kills advantage.
NIU jumped ahead in the second set with an 11-7 lead following another Kurisch kill. But the Bobcats would come back later in the set to tie the match at 17. Feeling a change in momentum, the Huskies responded with three straight kills from Sarah Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan), Kayla Zeno (Lake Elmo, Minn./StillwaterArea), and Lauren Wicinski (Geneva, Ill./Geneva). With momentum back in its favor, NIU finished off the set for a 25-20 win.
In the third set, Ohio grabbed its only lead of the match, 6-5. However, the Huskies quickly reclaimed the lead with an OU serve error and an Allison McGlaughlin (Morton, Ill./Morton) kill that helped fuel a 10-3 run. Later in the set, Ohio would close within a point at 20-19 and 21-20, but kills from Wicinski and Kurisch gave NIU a 23-20 edge. After an OU kill, Wicinski and MacKenzie Roddy (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon) put down back-to-back kills to end the set and match, 25-21, and give NIU a 5-0 record thus far against the MAC East Division.
Wicinski led the Huskies with 12 kills, while McGlaughlin's 10 kills moved her into seventh on NIU's all-time kills list with 1,332. The Huskie middle duo of Kurisch and Angelos added nine kills apiece and both hit .350 or better. Running the offense, Kristin Hoffman (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) tallied 34 assists and 12 digs for her fifth double-double, and second in as many matches.
On defense, Amber Walker (Juneau, Alaska/Juneau Douglas/Western Oregon) led NIU with 17 digs.
"It was a great weekend, again for cancer awareness, but it was also great for our team to go out and play team volleyball and defend our home," Gooden said.
The Huskies return to action next weekend with a pair of road matches against Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan. NIU plays EMU Friday, Oct. 28, at 6 PM CT and CMU Saturday, Oct. 29, at 6 PM.