VOLLEYBALL--- Northern Illinois University vs. Western Illinois
University/ at DeKalb, IL / Victor E. Court / Non-Conference Match
/ Wednesday / September 1, 2004
NORTHERN ILLINOIS defeats WESTERN ILLINOIS 3-0 (30-20, 30-21, 30-25)
STARTS THINGS OFF RIGHT, SWEEPS WESTERN ILLINOIS IN FRONT OF ELECTRIC
DeKALB, IL - Behind a raucous, near-capacity crowd at Victor E.
Court, the Northern Illinois University women's volleyball team
opened its 2004 season with a convincing 3-0 (30-20, 30-21, 30-25)
victory over Western Illinois University in non-conference action
Wednesday (Sept. 1).
NIU---who has not lost a season opener since falling to George Mason
University at the Colorado State Invitational back on September
1, 1995---used a match-high 20 kills from senior Tera Lobdell
(Plymouth, MN / Robbinsdale Armstrong) to move to 1-0 on the season.
"We had a really nice crowd tonight," Huskie head coach
Ray Gooden noted. "It was a great atmosphere, and hopefully,
we can continue to see crowds like that on our home floor so we
can learn to feed off that and use it to our advantage."
Storming out of the gate, the Huskies scored eight of the match's
first ten points, using back-to-back kills by Lobdell and Megan
Markowski (Glen Ellyn / Wheaton St. Francis) to finish the run
and establish and early 8-2 lead. The Westerwinds fought back, closing
the gap to four on six different occasions, but could get no closer.
A five-point run, punctuated by another Lobdell put-away turned
an 18-12 advantage into a comfortable 23-12 lead, and all but put
game one away.
The night's second stanza saw much of the same, as the Huskies raced
to a 6-0 lead behind a pair of kills and a block from sophomore
Kate McCullagh (Woodstock). Once again, Western Illinois
tried to battle back, pulling to within four on numerous occasions
and eventually cutting the gap to three at 19-16 on an Amy Sauerwein
kill. Lobdell took the contest over from that point, however, stringing
together four of her game-high nine put-aways in a row to push the
lead back to 23-16. The senior added two more three points later
to make it 26-17 before McCullagh eventually sealed a 30-21 victory
with her fourth kill of the contest.
"Tera is going to be a big part of our offense this year, and
she knows that," Gooden explained. "As a leader, she did
a good job stepping up and scoring points for us at critical times.
As a team, we need are going to need that from her."
Game three proved to be a bit more tense, as WIU grabbed its first
lead of the night at 2-1 on a successful swing by Jenna Yurs. McCullagh
balanced things back out with a kill of her own, and the Huskies
looked as though they were going to pull away again. One more time,
however, Western Illinois moved the count back to 12-10 before Corinne
Walsh (Evergreen Park) notched three kills in seven points to
help the Huskies get the advantage back to 17-12.
Unable to put the visitors away, however, NIU watched its lead melt
back down to 20-19 before finally pulling away. McCullagh and Lobdell
led the charge again, collecting back-to-back kills with the score
at 22-20, and Markowski finished off a three-point run with a kill
to make it a 25-20 game. Fittingly, Lobdell finished off the night
with a shot down the line to close up the 30-25 win.
The senior outside hitter compiled her 20 kills at a swift .265
clip (20-7-49). Amazingly, that was good enough for just fourth
on the team charts as the Huskies hit .192 as a group. McCullagh
racked up 12 kills while hitting .435 (12-2-23) and Walsh joined
her in the middle at .364 (5-1-11). Marie Zidek (Evergreen
Park / Chicago Heights Marian Catholic) paced a .333 (1-0-3), but
made her presence felt more setting up the offense, earning 35 assists
to go with 13 digs for her 17th career assist-dig double-double.
Northern Illinois returns to action this weekend by welcoming a
strong field to DeKalb for the third annual Comfort Inn and Suites
Invitational. The Huskies are slated to take on Wisconsin-Milwaukee
(Friday, Sept. 3 at 7:00 p.m.) and Butler (Saturday, Sept. 4 at
6:00 p.m.)---picked to finish one-two by coaches in the Horizon
League's preseason poll. As if that wasn't enough, the University
of Washington---ranked No. 7 in the latest USA Today/CSTV
Top 25---also makes the trek to Victor E. Court for the round-robin
event. The "Battle of the Huskies" is scheduled for 12:00
p.m. Saturday (Sept. 4).
-NIU- --Copy by Brian Kedzior
---Freshman Laura Baetzel (Chicago / Burbank Queen of Peace)
jumped right into the fire, starting her first collegiate match.
The Chicago native notched her first career kill in game two 11-4,
putting down a Marie Zidek set to make the score 11-4.
six of seven starters from last year's season-ending Mid-American
Conference Tournament loss to the University of Akron. Only current
student assistant coach Brooke Dodson was missing from the
--- The crowd
of 585 is the second largest group to ever see a Huskie volleyball
match at Victor E. Court. 608 fans watched the Huskies defeat St.
Louis University 3-2 (30-22, 30-25, 24-30, 27-30, 15-7) in the championship
match of the Comfort Inn and Suites Invitational back on Sept. 14,
(Sept. 1) match marked the first time Northern Illinois has not
started off its season with a round-robin tournament since 1988.