Huskie Volleyball bounces back in big way, hits plus-300, sweeps Illinois-Chicago 30-12, 30-24, 30-23



September 7, 2004

WOMEN'S COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL--- Northern Illinois University vs. University of Illinois-Chicago / at DeKalb, IL / Victor E. Court / non-conference match / Tuesday / September 7, 2004


Box Score

DeKALB, IL - After three consecutive losses on its home floor and with a heated instate rival coming to town, nobody was sure how the Northern Illinois University women's volleyball team was going to react Tuesday (Sept. 7). Consider any fears put to rest.

The Huskies dominated the University of Illinois-Chicago from start to finish, handing the Flames a 3-0 (30-12, 30-24, 30-23) loss in non-conference action at Victor E. Court. NIU improves to 2-3 with the victory while UIC falls to 2-4.

"It could have been any number of variables that caused us to come out strong tonight," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden citing his team's .556 hitting percentage in game one. "This is a local match, so a lot of the girls knew each other. We've played them a lot before. We're coming off a few home losses. Whatever it was, we came out motivated, and hopefully, we can continue that."

Motivated might be an understatement as the Huskies racked up 16 game one kills in 27 attempts with just a single error. Three of those kills came from senior Tera Lobdell (Plymouth, MN / Robbinsdale Armstrong) to give NIU an early 8-2 lead. The hosts didn't stop there, pushing the advantage to 23-11 on another Lobdell put-away before libero Gina Guide (Orland Park / Sandburg) served six straight points to help make it 28-11. A Marie Zidek (Evergreen Park / Chicago Heights Marian Catholic) dump and UIC attack error finished off the 30-12 victory.

Lobdell gave a preview of what was to come the rest of the night, hitting a gaudy .700 (7 kills-0 errors-10 attempts) in game one. Only one Huskie who logged at least a single game one attack hit lower than .500. Defensively, NIU set an early tone as well, holding the Flames to a -.121 hitting percentage and forcing 13 attack errors.

Things were a bit tighter in game two as the teams battled through five lead changes and nine ties---the last of which came at 20-20. Once again, Lobdell provided a spark, however, serving four straight points with help from kills by Kate McCullagh (Woodstock) and Amy Ward (Sycamore) to establish a 24-20 cushion. Ward took it from there, hammering home two of the last three points to give the Huskies a 30-24 triumph.

"That is the kind of performance we are hoping to get from Amy night in and night out," Gooden explained. "She did a good job scoring, especially in some rotations where she was the primary attacker. She is more than capable of doing it. She just needs some reps and confidence to push her over the top."

An 11-9 start to game three made the match look anything but locked up before the Huskies went on another run. Middle blocker Corinne Walsh (Evergreen Park) and Lobdell were at the forefront, scoring seven of the game's next 12 points to help guide Northern Illinois to a 22-11 advantage. UIC would get no closer than eight the rest of the way. A successful swing by McCullagh and an Illinois-Chicago attack error wrapped up the three-game sweep.

The Huskie defense kept UIC at bay to the tune of a -.028 hitting percentage for the entire night. Only two Flames entered a positive number in that column, and even those two didn't cross the .000 barrier until the last few points of game three. Megan Markowski (Glen Ellyn / Wheaton St. Francis) notched a career high with nine total blocks to spearhead the effort. Walsh added four, and the Huskies collected 10 total blocks as a group.

Offensively, the numbers speak for themselves. Lobdell totaled 18 kills and 10 digs while hitting a blistering .469 (18-3-32). Walsh was even better, posting a three-game career-best .538 (8-1-13) night to go with her four blocks. Ward set a career high with seven kills, and hit .250. As a team, the Huskies attacked the net at a .302 clip (49-17-106).

Northern Illinois looks to carry some momentum from its victory to the road this weekend. NIU heads to Durham, NC, to meet up with Southeastern Conference member South Carolina, Atlantic Coast Conference representative Duke, and perennial Colonial Athletic Conference kingpin Towson at the Duke Invitational. The Huskies kick off their three-match round-robin slate with a 4:30 p.m. (EDT) contest against TU Friday (Sept. 10).

-NIU- --Copy by Brian Kedzior

Match Notes:
---Northern Illinois has played Illinois-Chicago more than any other team in its 34-season volleyball history, now with 60 all-time meetings between the schools. With their win Tuesday (Sept. 7), the Huskies have won 16 consecutive matches over the Flames dating back to a 3-0 (15-5, 15-6, 15-11) loss on Oct. 23, 1990, and own a 35-25-0 edge in the all-time series..

---With an 18-kill, 10-dig performance, Tera Lobdell collected her 50th career double-double.

---Senior Megan Markowski has posted career-high numbers in each of her last two matches. The Glen Ellyn native's 11-block night against Butler Saturday (Sept. 4) was a five-game career best while the nine stuffs she collected Tuesday (Sept. 7) are now her three-game standard.

---Sophomore Kate McCullagh notched her first ever 10-dig night, adding 10 "ups" to eight kills and a block.



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