Huskies Open Season with NIU Invitational, Labor Day Match against Missouri State

GO HUSKIES Justine Schepler and the Huskies begin their 2013 campaign Friday night against Green Bay
Justine Schepler and the Huskies begin their 2013 campaign Friday night against Green Bay

Aug 29, 2013

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DeKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois volleyball team begins their 2013 season this weekend as they host the NIU Invitational Friday and Saturday before completing the long weekend with a match on Labor Day.
The Huskies welcome in #23 Ohio State, Liberty and Green Bay for the two-day round robin tournament, then take on Missouri State in a holiday showdown.
“Everyone is excited, not only our kids, but everyone is ready to compete this weekend,” said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden. “I think we all have spent plenty of time in our respective gyms beating up on each other and now it’s good to see some other faces and other jerseys on the other side of the net. I know our group is really amped up to start our 2013 campaign.”
NIU begins their 44th season of volleyball after going 21-15 in 2012, marking the third consecutive season that the Huskies earned 20-plus wins. Additionally, the team advanced to the MAC Tournament final for the third straight year. In 2013, the Huskies boast a pair of Preseason All-MAC selections in senior Sarah Angelos and junior Mackenzie Roddy, along with 2012 MAC All-Freshman pick Alexis Gonzalez and senior libero Justine Schepler.
The Huskies will also look to continue their mastery of home openers this weekend, as they are 10-1 in DeKalb debuts in Gooden’s tenure and 33-10 in program history. NIU has a five-match winning streak in home openers, including last year’s 3-2 win over North Dakota State.
After the NIU Invitational, NIU will have a rare Labor Day match when they face Missouri State at 2 p.m. inside Victor E. Court. As part of the Labor Day festivities, the team will be participating in a “White Out” and encourages all fans to wear white to the match.
Happy New Year!
Northern Illinois kicks off their 44th season of competition this weekend with the annual NIU Invitational. This year marks the eighth consecutive season in which the Huskies have opened the year with a home tournament. The 2013 edition of the NIU Invitational will feature the Huskies, No. 23 Ohio State, defending Big South champion Liberty and regional rival Green Bay in a round-robin format. Two days after the tournament ends, the Huskies tussle with Missouri Valley Conference power Missouri State in a 2 p.m. tilt.
Scouting Green Bay
The Phoenix enters 2013 after posting a 15-14 record and a 6-8 Horizon League mark last season. Under first year head coach Michaela Franklin, Green Bay has 10 returners from last season’s squad and four starters from 2012 back. Overall, the Huskies own a 20-1 record all-time against the Phoenix and maintain an 18-match winning streak. The two schools were once conference rivals in the North Star Conference (1988-91), Mid-Continent Conference (1992-93) and the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1994-96).
Scouting Liberty
Following an NCAA Tournament berth in 2012, the Flames look to earn their third straight Big South Conference Tournament championship and six consecutive BSC regular season crown in 2013. Led by 10th year coach Shane Pinder, Liberty boasts plenty of experience with the return of 2012 all-conference honorees Caroline Douglas, Jade Craycraft and Lillie Happel. This will be the third meeting between NIU and LU with the Huskies earning wins in 2003 and 2010.
Scouting Ohio State
The No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes come to DeKalb following a 2012 season that saw them go 23-11 and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In 2013, the Buckeyes return all-Big Ten outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary, libero Davionna DiSalvatore and middle blocker Andrea Kacsits. NIU trails in the all-time series with OSU, 2-8, with the last meeting coming in 2006.
Huskies Picked Second In Mac West Preseason Poll
After getting hot in MAC play and advancing to their third consecutive Mid-American Conference title match in 2012, the Huskies were picked to finish second in the MAC West by the league coaches. NIU received four first place votes to trail only Western Michigan. Meanwhile, the Huskies also got two votes as the predicted MAC Tournament champion, tying them with WMU and putting them with Bowling Green and Ohio as projected tournament winners.
Angelos, Roddy Pick Up Preseason Accolades
Senior Sarah Angelos and junior Mackenzie Roddy were both named to the Preseason All-MAC Team Thursday, marking the third season NIU has been represented on the team and the second time there were multiple Huskies on the list. In 2012, Angelos posted career-highs with 341 kills and 100 total blocks. Her hitting percentage of .292 ranked seventh in the MAC. Roddy led the MAC and ranked 89th in the NCAA with 0.34 aces/set ratio, while also leading the team in aces (44) and points (522).
Old and New
The Huskies feature a unique balance of youth and experience in 2013 with eight returning players and seven newcomers. Among the returnees are multiple time all-MAC honoree Sarah Angelos, 2012 MAC All-Freshman selection Alexis Gonzalez, Justine Schepler and Mackenzie Roddy. As far as the newcomers are concerned, NIU brings in six freshmen - three outside hitters, two defensive specialists and a middle blocker - and Illinois-Springfield transfer Sam Mainzer.
Working on Labor Day
Northern Illinois will be in a rare position Monday afternoon when they face Missouri State on Labor Day. Among all 330 NCAA Division I volleyball programs, the Huskies-Bears contest will be one of only two matches that day. The other match is between St. John’s and Siena in New York City at noon CT.
A Fitting Debut
NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden will go head-to-head with one of his former protégés Friday night, as Green Bay is led by one-time NIU assistant coach Michaela Franklin. In fact, Franklin’s first collegiate coaching job came with the Huskies, as she spent three seasons in DeKalb from 2006-08.
Pookie and Z’s Adventures in Europe
Setter Alexis “Pookie” Gonzalez and middle blocker Lauren Zielinski had quite a unique opporunity over the summer, as they were one of a select group of college volleyball players picked to play in the European Global Challenge in July in Croatia. In addition to playing against some of the best Europe had to offer, the duo also got to tour Venice and see other sites throughout central Europe.
Gooden Plenty
In his 12th season as NIU head coach, Ray Gooden is now the longest-tenured coach in NIU Volleyball history. A three-time MAC Coach of the Year, Gooden has led the Huskies to three consecutive 20-win seasons and has guided the team to the last three MAC Tournament title matches. The program’s second all-time wins leader owns a respectable 205-150 record at NIU, including a 102-77 mark in MAC play and an impressive 121-58 tally at home. Additionally, Gooden has coached 25 All-MAC, 19 Academic All-MAC, six MAC All-Freshman and five MAC Player of the Year selections, along with the only seven All-American selections in program history. Five players have also reached the 1,000-kill plateau under Gooden.
Up Next...
The Huskies continue their season-opening homestand with three matches in four days. On Wednesday, NIU battles in-state rival Western Illinois at 7 p.m. Then on Saturday, the Huskies welcome in two 2012 NCAA Tournament qualifiers in a rare twinbill. At 1 p.m., NIU battles six-time national champion and fourth-ranked Southern California. Later that night at 7 p.m., Northern faces off with defending Ohio Valley Conference champion Belmont.

The Last Meeting
Green Bay1
Northern Illinois3
August 28, 2012
DeKalb, Ill.
Huskies Take Down Green Bay 3-1
Behind an electric crowd during Northern Illinois' first week of class, the NIU Volleyball team took down Green Bay 3-1 (25-13, 22-25, 25-12, 25-15) on Tuesday night at Victor E. Court.

The Last Meeting
Northern Illinois3
September 10, 2010
Elon, N.C.
Huskies Improve to 10-0, Win Two Matches at Elon Classic
Playing in back-to-back matches at the Elon Classic did not slow down the finest beginning to a season in program history for the Northern Illinois volleyball team on Friday. The Huskies moved to 10-0, winning a four-set match over Elon (6-3), and just over 1.5 hours later, sweeping Liberty (5-3).

The Last Meeting
Northern Illinois3
Missouri State2
September 8, 2012
Springfield, Mo.
Huskies Win Missouri State Invite with Comeback Victory vs. MSU
Despite being down 2-1 in the match, the Northern Illinois volleyball team gutted out a five-set win over Missouri State Saturday night at Hammons Student Center to complete a perfect 4-0 weekend and claim MSU's Dr. Mary Jo Wynn/DoubleTree Hotel Invitational. The 25-16, 20-25, 17-25, 25-19, 15-13 win moves the Huskies to 7-5 on the season, while the Bears fall to 5-6.



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