Aug. 25, 2011
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois women's volleyball team begins its 2011 season this weekend by hosting the annual NIU Invitational. With four matches slated for Friday, Aug. 26, and five for Saturday, Aug. 27, the Huskies will welcome IUPUI, Cincinnati, No. 18 Iowa State and No. 14 Northern Iowa.
Invitational Schedule (Home Team Listed Second)
Friday, Aug. 26
IUPUI vs. NIU | 12:00 PM
Cincinnati vs. Iowa State | 2:00 PM
IUPUI vs. Northern Iowa | 5:00 PM
CINCINNATI vs. NIU | 7:00 PM
Saturday, Aug. 27
Iowa State vs. IUPUI | 10:00 AM
Northern Iowa vs. Cincinnati | 12:00 PM
IOWA STATE vs. NIU | 2:00 PM
Cincinnati vs. IUPUI | 5:00 PM
NORTHERN IOWA vs. NIU | 7:00 PM
How To Follow
All matches will have live stats via GameTracker. All four NIU matches will be video-streamed online through Huskie All-Access.
Tickets will be available upon entry to the Convocation Center's Victor E. Court. Adult tickets are $5, youth (17 and under) $3, groups (20 or more) $2, and NIU students who present a valid NIU OneCard can attend for free. For more information contact the NIU Ticket Office at 815-752-6800.
Building Off Historic 2010 Campaign
NIU returns all but one player from last season's team that finished second at the Mid-American Conference tournament, tallying the most wins (27) since 1998 and best conference finish since 2001. The Huskies got off to a record 11-0 start to 2010 and ended the season ranked fifth in the country in wins, 29th in winning percentage (.771), 31st in hitting percentage (.256), 33rd in kills per set (14.01) and assists per set (13.07), and 38th in aces per set (1.52).
Individually, the Huskies had six MAC West Division Player of the Week selections, including Lauren Wicinski's school career record five in just her freshman season. Wicinski also became the first in league history to garner MAC Player and Freshman of the Year in the same season. Additionally, she became the second Huskie to earn AVCA Honorable Mention All-American recognition, and the first to do so as a rookie. Joining Wicinski on the All-American list was teammate Kristin Hoffman, who became the program's first ever ESPN/CoSIDA Academic Third Team All-American. Hoffman's classmate Allison McGlaughlin was also recognized on the ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-District 5 First Team. Wicinski and Hoffman were honored on the All-MAC First Team as well, while graduated libero Maddie Hughes was a Second Team selection.
Entering his 10th season as NIU head coach, Ray Gooden is coming off his most successful season. The program's second all-time wins leader owns a respectable 156-129 record at NIU, including a 99-89 mark in MAC play and an impressive 91-51 tally at home.
Gooden is in the process of leaving an indelible mark on the program as the top three place holders in kills, kills per set, attack attempts and points all played under Gooden, as well as the top two holders in digs and digs per set.
Additionally, Gooden has coached 17 All-MAC, five MAC All-Freshman and two MAC Player of the Year selections, along with the only three All-Americans in program history. Four players have also reached the 1,000-kill plateau under Gooden: Tara Lobdell, Kate McCullagh (1,936 kills, second in MAC history), Meagan Schoenrock, and Allison McGlaughlin, who has another year to add to her total.
NIU Season Openers
NIU is 8-1 in season and home openers under Gooden. The Huskies won the NIU Invitational last season with a perfect 4-0 record, marking the fifth time NIU has swept its own tournament. Combined, NIU is 30-11 at the NIU Invitational.
IUPUI is coming off an 8-22 season in 2010. The Jaguars went 7-11 in The Summit League for a seventh place finish. Returning four starters and his libero, Jaguar head coach Steve Payne will be in familiar territory as a 1987 graduate of Northern Illinois. NIU won its only match against IUPUI, which came in 2002 and ended in a 3-0 sweep for Gooden's first Huskie win on Aug. 30th at Victor E. Court.
Cincinnati enters 2011 after a highly-successful 2010 season that saw the Bearcats advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. The 30-6 season gave the Bearcats their first 30-win campaign since the early 1980s. Cincinnati won the BIG EAST regular season crown with a 13-1 record but fell short in the championship. The Bearcats begin the 2011 slate as one of sever teams that received votes in the AVCA Preseason Top 25 Poll. NIU leads the all-time series against Cincinnati 3-1, and claimed a 3-2 win in the last match up against the Bearcats on Sept. 16, 2000, in DeKalb.
Scouting Iowa State
Iowa State made the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year in 2010, finishing with a 20-9 record. The Cyclones' 13-7 mark in Big 12 play was good for third place. Returning all five 2010 starters, ISU enters 2011 as the No. 18 team in the AVCA Preseason Top 25 Poll. The Cyclones lead the all-time series against NIU 7-3. ISU won the last matchup 3-0 on Sept. 15, 1995, in Ames, Iowa.
Scouting Northern Iowa
Northern Iowa is coming off its fifth straight season with an NCAA Tournament appearance and a Missouri Valley Conference championship. The Panthers went 30-3, 18-0 in MVC play, in 2010. With all five starters back, UNI is ranked No. 14 in the AVCA Preseason Top 25 Poll. UNI leads the all-time series against NIU 9-3. The Panthers won 3-0 in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in the last matchup between the two teams, which came on Sept. 4, 2009.
The Huskies travel to Green Bay, Wis., to take on UW-Green Bay at 7:00 p.m. CT on Tuesday, August 30.