Nov. 26, 2011
DeKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois volleyball team closed out their regular season Saturday at Victor E. Court with a commanding 3-0 sweep of the Marquette Golden Eagles.
The win pushed the Huskies' record to 28-6 on the season. In addition, the win was also NIU's second of the season against MU, who finished as the Big East's third place team during the regular season. The win also improved Northern's record against Big East opponents to 4-0 in 2011.
"I think the girls responded well," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "It was hard coming off of that match (in the MAC Championship against Central Michigan). It was tough, but I think we know that we will hopefully have more to play. We just wanted to put our best foot forward."
Lauren Wicinski paced the Huskie attack with a double-double, notching 12 kills and 10 digs on the afternoon to lead NIU in both categories. Meanwhile, Mary Kurisch contributed eight kills and Sarah Angelos scored six kills. Kristin Hoffman added 34 assists, while MacKenzie Roddy had three of the Huskies' nine blocks.
As a team, Northern held sizable advantages in hitting percentage (.315-.116), kills (41-34), blocks (9-1) and digs (45-34).
Both teams matched each other punch for punch in the opening set. However, the Huskies broke open the set with a 6-0 run that included a Hoffman ace kill, along with kills from Wicinski, Roddy, and Kurisch, to push Northern ahead 17-11. After Marquette got within three at 21-18, the Huskies held off the Golden Eagles and scored the set win behind two Wicinski kills and a pair of MU errors.
"We came out as the aggressors," Gooden said. "I thought we did a really good job, especially playing at home."
Marquette came out firing in the second set when they grabbed a 5-2 lead early on. NIU responded with a 7-2 run of their own to take a 9-7 lead after a pair of Allison McGlaughlin kills and four Golden Eagle errors. Not to be deterred, MU retook the lead with a 5-1 run before kills by Hoffman and Wicinski knotted the match up at 12. The teams would continue to exchange small leads until, with the score tied at 20, Wicinski put NIU on top for good with a kill, followed by three MU errors and a Kurisch kill.
The Golden Eagles would again race out to an early 5-2 lead in the third set before the Huskies came back to knot the match at five. Later, with the match tied at 10 each, NIU took control with an 8-4 run, forcing Marquette to call a timeout. After MU got within 20-18, the Huskies put away the match with kills from Angelos, McGlaughlin, and Wicinski.
NIU will find out tomorrow if they earned an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament. The selection show will be aired on ESPNU at 5 p.m.