July 5, 2012
DeKALB, Ill. - Per the trend over the last two summers, Northern Illinois volleyball middle blocker Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem) is headed overseas to further her experience, skill set, and knowledge of the game.
After traveling to Brazil in 2010 and China in 2011, the senior-to-be will return to China for the second annual China-USA Challenge Invitational Tournament in Beijing and Tianjin as one of 24 members of the Bring It Promotions (BIP) USA Development Team to face top Chinese collegiate and club teams. Some of the matches will even feature live video, courtesy of CNTV English's CCTV online streaming.
"We're proud to have Mary once again represent NIU with the USA/BIP select team," said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden, who has sent seven NIU players overseas since 2005. "This will be Mary's third tour with the program, and each time she returns her game and level of confidence grows. We're looking for her to have another positive experience."
Kurisch, who arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, will be competing and site-seeing in China until July 12. Some of the finer details of her trip itinerary include sight-seeing tours of Tianjin Museum, Haihe River, Tianjin Harbor, Great Wall, Tianman Square, and Forbidden City, as well as shopping expeditions at Hongquia and Xiushui Markets.
After a rookie 2009 season that saw Kurisch get thrown into the fire due to NIU's lack of middle blocker depth, the Wisconsin native held her own as the youngest member of the Bring It Promotions/USA Development Team in Brazil. When she returned to DeKalb, she had a noticeable change in confidence and performance once preseason camp began. The result was an outstanding sophomore season as Kurisch annihilated her freshman numbers, netting 287 kills, a .324 hitting percentage, 108 blocks, 62 digs and 17 aces. Her rookie line was 160 kills, a .247 hitting percentage, 71 blocks, 30 digs and 0 aces. Her much-improved play in the middle was a large reason for the 2010 Huskies' highest win total (27) since 1998.
Coming back from last year's trip to China, Kurisch kept elevating her game in 2011. She notched a career-best 22 aces, 80 digs, and 109 blocks, and 378.5 points. She also stayed right on pace with her 2010 attacking numbers with 285 kills and a .321 hitting percentage to earn a First Team All-Mid-American Conference selection for the first time.
Not coincidentally, Kurisch's stellar 2011 campaign was one of a few reasons the Huskies reached the NCAA Tournament and won the MAC regular season title for the first time since 2001, and put up the most wins (28) since 1993.
Stay tuned to NIUHuskies.com as Kurisch will be providing blog updates from China with photos and maybe even a video or two.
CCTV Online Streaming Schedule
3:30pm USA Team Select vs Shanghai Team
7:30pm USA All Star vs Liaoning Team
3:30pm USA Team Select vs Liaoning Team
7:30pm USA All Star vs Shanghai Team