Sept. 1, 2011
DeKALB, Ill. - After hosting its own invitational last weekend, the Northern Illinois women's volleyball team heads to Omaha, Neb., this weekend to take part in Creighton's Bluejay Invitational at D.J. Sokol Arena. The Huskies (3-2) will take on host Creighton Friday at 7:00 p.m. CT. On Saturday, NIU will face Marquette at 10:00 a.m. and South Dakota at 5:30 p.m.
How To Follow
Live stats and video for each match will be available on GoCreighton.com. Video will cost $10.95 for a monthly subscription. A free radio broadcast will be available for the NIU-Creighton match on GoCreighton.com as well.
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 159-131 record at NIU, including a 99-89 mark in MAC play and an impressive 93-53 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.
Starting Off On The Right Foot
For the fourth straight season, and ninth time in 10 tries, under Gooden, the Huskies won their season opener. The triumph was a 3-1 decision over IUPUI. The lone season in which NIU did not win its first match came in 2007, when the Huskies fell in five sets to Indiana at Victor E. Court. The Huskies are also 9-1 in home openers under Gooden.
With a 3-0 sweep at Green Bay Tuesday, the Huskies won their third straight road opener, marking their 16th consecutive win against the Phoenix, who NIU is 19-1 against all-time.
Huskies Hold Their Own
Last weekend's NIU Invitational featured three 2010 NCAA Tournament Teams that received votes in the 2011 AVCA Preseason Poll: Cincinnati (Received 22 votes), No. 18 Iowa State, and No. 14 Northern Iowa. The Huskies swept Cincinnati and hung tough with ISU and UNI, scoring under 20 points in only two of seven sets against the top 20 duo and claiming the first set against ISU, 25-21. NIU also held its opponents at the invite to a .253 attack percentage while the Huskies hit .280.
The sophomore duo of Sarah Angelos and Lauren Wicinski earned all-tournament honors at the NIU Invitational. Angelos totaled 30 kills and six blocks in the four matches, while Wicinski notched 76 kills, 45 digs, nine blocks and five aces.
Wiz Captures First MAC West Offensive Player of the Week Honor of 2011
Just like she did last season, Lauren Wicinski garnered the first Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week honor of the year, the league announced Tuesday. The sophomore's sixth selection of her career extends her NIU school career record total.
The reigning MAC Player and Freshman of the Year earned an all-tournament selection at the NIU Invitational as she compiled MAC-best 5.43 kills per set with a .312 hitting percentage and five aces. In NIU's season opening win over IUPUI, she hit .383 with 23 kills and three aces, adding 11 digs and three blocks. In a 3-0 win over Cincinnati, who received votes in the AVCA Preseason Top 25 Poll, she hit a career-best .550 with 25 kills, 10 digs, two blocks and an ace. In a 3-1 loss to No. 18 Iowa State, she posted 15 kills, 13 digs and two blocks. In a 3-0 loss to No.14 Northern Iowa, she tallied 13 kills, 11 digs, two blocks and an ace, giving her four straight double-doubles to start the season.
All Good Things Come To An End
With a total of nine kills against Green Bay in Tuesday's 3-0 win, Lauren Wicinski snapped a streak of 38 straight games with double figure kills. She did, however, add a team- and season-high 19 digs.
NIU has outhit its opponents this season to the tune of .276-.241. The Huskies are 3-0 when they outhit their opponents and 0-2 when they do not.
Creighton made the NCAA Tournament last year and finished ranked 32nd in the nation. The Bluejays are off to a 1-3 start in 2011. Their lone win came against the University of Texas at San Antonio at the Texas A&M Invitational. Creighton's three losses came against stiff competition as the Bluejays fell twice to the Aggies and once in five sets to Kansas State.
Creighton holds a 2.76-1.76 blocking advantage over its opponents on the year, led by Laurel Sanford's 1.65 blocks per game.
NIU and Creighton have met just one time. The Huskies came out on top 3-0 on Sept. 1, 2001, at the NIU Best Western Invitational.
Marquette finished last season ranked 47th in the country. The Golden Eagles are 2-2 on the year. They opened the season at Iowa's Hawkeye Challenge with wins over Central Michigan and host Iowa after losing to Saint Louis in the season opener. Then on Monday, the Golden Eagles, like NIU last weekend, fell to No. 14 Northern Iowa in three sets.
NIU is 10-3 all-time against Marquette. However, the Golden Eagles won the last matchup, 3-1, which came last season on Nov. 27 in Milwaukee, Wis. The Huskies and Golden Eagles will meet again later this year in DeKalb on Nov. 26.
Scouting South Dakota
Similar to NIU, South Dakota is coming off a runner-up finish in its conference tournament last season. The Coyotes fell in four sets to North Dakota in the Great West Conference title match. USD is 1-3 in 2011 with its lone win coming over Oregon State, 3-2. The Coyotes' three losses have come against Gonzaga, DePaul and Wyoming.
The Huskies are 2-0 versus USD all-time. In the last matchup between the two teams, the Huskies won 3-0, which came at last year's NIU Invitational on Aug. 28.
NIU heads to Milwaukee, Wis., to face Milwaukee at 7:00 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Sept. 6.