Nov. 13, 2007
DeKalb, Ill. - After splitting the first two games, the Northern Illinois volleyball team rallied to take the final two games to put away Ball State (5-25, 4-12) in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament 30-20, 27-30, 30-19, 30-28.
"This win is great for this group," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "Ball State came out fighting and we give a lot of credit to them tonight. We had to play pretty well and we were fortunate enough to do that at home tonight."
Senior Laura Baetzel (Chicago, Ill. / Burbank Queen of Peace) led the way for the Huskies (14-17, 7-9), registering 19 kills with a .390 hitting percentage and three service aces that came in the midst of a 7-0 run in game four that gave NIU a 20-13 lead that helped propel them to a 30-28 win, giving the Huskies the match.
"Laura did a good job all across the board tonight," said Gooden. "Her serving really helped, especially in game four when we made a big run because of her serves. That was a big thing that pushed us ahead, which we really needed a lot at the end."
Two other Huskies also totaled double-digit kills to help the NIU offense. Sophomore Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio / Northview) added 17 and junior Irene Johnson (Schaumburg, Ill. / Schaumburg) tallied 11.
Defensively, NIU totaled three players with double-figure digs. Senior Mandi Caputo (Chicago, Ill. / Immaculate Heart of Mary / DePaul) led the way with 22 digs and 49 assists. Freshman Maddie Hughes (St. Charles, Ill. / North) registered 20 digs and sophomore Monica Lang (Chicago, Ill. / Marist) added 12.
"We took care of the ball on our side," said Gooden. "We did a great job tonight. We played well defensively and dug up a lot of balls against Ball State's attack."
The Cardinals were led by Julie Breivogel's 17 kills. Angie Parrell added a double-double with 43 assists and 14 digs. Alyssa Rio led the Cardinal defense with a team-high 27 digs.
With the win, the Huskies advance to the MAC quarterfinal against top-seeded Ohio on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Toledo, Ohio.
"We know Ohio is the best," Gooden said. "We are happy to face the best team right away. We know we have to give the best effort possible in order to compete against that team. That is what our preparation is going to be for the next couple days, getting ready for that Friday night match."