VOLLEYBALL--- Northern Illinois University vs. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
/ at DeKalb, IL / Victor E. Court / Comfort Inn and Suites Invitational
/ host, Northern Illinois University / Friday / September 3, 2004
WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE defeats NORTHERN ILLINOIS 3-1 (30-26, 24-30,
TRANSFORM INTO LATE DISAPPOINTMENT AS NIU VOLLEYBALL FALLS TO WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE
DeKALB, IL - Despite looking solid in a 30-24 game two victory,
the Northern Illinois University women's volleyball team couldn't
keep that momentum going against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in its opener
at the 2004 Comfort Inn and Suites Invitational. The host Huskies
watched early leads in games three and four slip away in a 3-1 (30-26,
24-30, 30-24, 30-26) loss Friday (Sept. 3).
NIU saw its season ledger evened up at 1-1 with the loss. The Panthers,
on other hand, remained perfect at 2-0 for the year.
Neither team could establish much of a lead in game one as the advantage
never got higher than four on either side. Unfortunately for the
Huskies, their four-point margin came at 9-5 behind a Kate McCullagh
(Woodstock) kill and Marie Zidek (Evergreen Park / Chicago
Heights Marian Catholic) service ace. UWM, on the other hand, suffered
through 11 ties and five lead changes before finally charging ahead
for their four-point lead at the very end and taking a 30-26 victory.
The Panthers tried to push ahead a little bit earlier, establishing
a 19-17 margin before the hosts came charging back. A Tera Lobdell
(Plymouth, MN / Robbinsdale Armstrong) kill started a four-point
run that was capped off with a Megan Markowski (Glen Ellyn
/ Wheaton St. Francis) / Amy Ward (Sycamore) tandem block
and reversed the two-point deficit into a two-point Huskie lead.
Four consecutive tallies by the Panthers quickly erased the cushion,
however, and UWM slowly pulled away.
Halfway through game two, things looked pretty much the same. Ties.
Lead changes. Back-and-forth volleyball led to a tenuous 15-13 NIU
lead. All of that ended right there, as the Huskies scored nine
of the next ten points behind a ferocious attack at the net spearheaded
by Laura Baetzel (Chicago / Burbank Queen of Peace). The
freshman teamed up with Markowski for a block before notching three
of her four game-two kills in a span of five points to push the
advantage to 24-14. UWM got no closer than four the rest of the
way, and the Huskies sealed a 30-24 win.
McCullagh tried to carry Northern Illinois in game three, scoring
three straight points by herself on two kills and a block solo to
help the hosts to an early 10-9 lead. That would be the only advantage
NIU would see for the rest of the game. UWM outside hitter Karen
Fruit ended up doing all of the leading, racking up 11 game-three
kills to help the Panthers attack the net at a .366 clip (19 kills-4
errors-41 attempts) and pull out a 30-24 triumph of their own.
It was back to nip-and-tuck, point-for-point volleyball in game
four as the team traded one and two-point runs to a 25-25 deadlock.
Neither team could push the lead higher than three while Lobdell
and Fruit took turns trading put-aways. The Panther senior was one
better, however, collecting 12 successful swings to Lobdell's 11
in the final stanza. It was just enough to push the Panthers over
the top, as they scored three straight points to break the 25-25
tie, and eventually held NIU off for a 30-26 win.
"Wisconsin-Milwaukee just made more plays than us tonight,"
NIU head coach Ray Gooden explained. "Especially, (Karen)
Fruit. She is a perfect example of how they did a good job making
big plays when they needed to."
Lobdell finished the night with 22 kills to lead the Huskies while
Fruit racked up 30 put-aways while attacking the net at a rate of
.368 (30-9-57). McCullagh quietly posted a solid night in the middle
for NIU with 13 kills, a .321 hitting percentage, and five total
blocks on her way to a 16-point night. Sophomore Gina Guide
(Orland Park / Sanburg) also added 17 digs.
Northern Illinois continues play at the Comfort Inn Invite Saturday
(Sept. 4) when they face No. 7 Washington at 12 p.m. UW plays another
contest against UWM at 3:00 p.m. before the Huskies close out the
event with a 6 p.m. match against Butler.
-NIU- --Copy by Brian Kedzior
---Northern Illinois had won 11 round-robin tournament matches in
a row prior to falling to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The last Huskie loss
in a round-robin came back on Sept. 8, 2002 when NIU fell to Loyola-Chicago
3-2 (30-20, 30-20, 27-30, 18-30, 15-13).
added 12 digs to her team-high 22 kills for her 49th career kill-dig