Nov. 16, 2007
Toledo, Ohio - In the quarterfinal of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, the Northern Illinois volleyball team was edged by Ohio 30-23, 26-30, 30-25, 30-25. The Bobcats (24-4) out-hit the Huskies (14-18) .306% to .185% and tallied 76 kills to NIU's 58 to advance to the semifinals.
"I thought we put forth a great tournament effort," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "When you play in this tournament, yes we were the eighth-seed, but all the records go out of the window. We went for it against a really great team. We really did. We put it all out there."
Both teams went back and forth early on in game one, leaving the score tied several times. With NIU up 18-16 after a kill from sophomore Cassie Yates (LaPorte, Ind. / LaPorte) and a Bobcat error, Ohio rallied for 10 consecutive points to give the Bobcats a 26-18 lead. The Huskies responded with a 4-1 run to cut the lead to 27-22, but it wasn't enough as Ohio closed the game 30-23. Sophomore Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio / Northview) tallied three kills for NIU, while Melissa Griffin totaled six for the Bobcats.
In game two, the Huskies held a slight advantage from the beginning until Ohio tied the score at 13-13, following a serve ace by Jill Dearmond and a kill by Ellen Herman. With the score tied again, 20-20, the Huskies used a pair of kills from Yates and a kill by senior Laura Baetzel (Chicago, Ill. / Burbank Queen of Peace) to spark a 10-6 run that gave NIU the game, 30-26. Junior Irene Johnson (Schaumburg, Ill. / Schaumburg) registered five kills and two blocks for the Huskies, who as a team hit .415%. Herman notched nine kills for the Bobcats.
"In both games one and two, we were really close at the media time-out," said Gooden. "Unfortunately in game one, Ohio went on a run to end the game. In game two, we were able to make a run to win that one."
NIU started game three with a 5-1 lead with the help of three Bobcat errors. Ohio quickly recovered with a 7-0 run behind two kills by Griffin to take an 8-5 advantage. The Bobcats maintained their lead and, with the score of 21-17, ran off three straight points behind kills from Melissa Szkutnik and Stephanie Blackburn along with a Huskie error to propel them to a 30-25 win. Schoenrock had six kills for NIU, as did Ohio's Griffin.
"In game three, they went on a run early and that's, unfortunately, where it got a little tough," Gooden said.
With the score knotted at 10-10 in game four, a kill each from Baetzel, Johnson and senior Mandi Caputo (Chicago, Ill. / Immaculate Heart of Mary / DePaul) along with a serve ace from sophomore Monica Lang (Chicago, Ill. / Marist) gave NIU a 14-10 advantage. Ohio gradually chipped away at the Huskie lead and, with the score tied at 25-25, ended the match on a 5-0 run.
"In game four, we were playing them tight, again, but got caught in a bad rotation and they scored their points at the end to pull it out," said Gooden.
Griffin led Ohio with 21 kills. Michelle Jantsch registered a team-high 40 assists and Stephanie Blackburn tallied a double-double with a team-high 20 digs and 15 kills.
Schoenrock led the way for the Huskies with 14 kills. Baetzel and Johnson each added 12 kills. Caputo notched a double-double with 52 assists and 21 digs along with three kills on eight attempts. Maddie Hughes also had 16 digs for the NIU defense.