Huskies work overtime to take down Raiders 2-1 (9/12)



September 11, 2004

WOMEN'S COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL--- Northern Illinois University at Duke Invitational / at Durham, NC / Cameron Indoor Stadium / Saturday / September 11, 2004

FINAL SCORES: SOUTH CAROLINA defeats NORTHERN ILLINOIS 3-1 (30-28, 30-27, 22-30, 30-21)
DUKE defeats NORTHERN ILLINOIS 3-0 (30-19, 30-21, 30-21)

Box Score vs. USC
Box Score vs. Duke

DeKALB, IL - Battling the loss of two starters and playing two matches in the same day with just seven players, the Northern Illinois University women's volleyball team dropped a pair of contests Saturday (Sept. 11) to finish a weekend stint at the Duke Invitational 0-3.

The Huskies---now 2-6 on the season---played their doubleheader without middle blocker Megan Markowski (Glen Ellyn / Wheaton St. Francis) and outside hitter Laura Baetzel (Chicago / Burbank Queen of Peace) who are both nursing injuries. South Carolina moved to 4-2 on the year and finished the weekend tournament at 2-1. Duke posted an unbeaten 3-0 slate to win its own event and improve to 6-2.

"We're just hurt right now," Huskie head coach Ray Gooden noted. "We have people out of their normal spots that are really trying to give their best efforts. Now, its just a matter of believing that we can win every game no matter the situation."

NIU put up a valiant effort against the University of South Carolina to open the day, starting right away in a game one that saw neither team lead by more than three points. The squads battled through nine ties including one at 22-22 before a Corinne Walsh (Evergreen Park) kill gave the Huskies a one-point lead. Three consecutive Gamecock points pushed the advantage back the other way to stay, however, and USC held off a late Huskie charge for a 30-28 win.

The story was pretty much the same in game two with USC using a late surge to erase an 18-16 Huskie lead and pull away for a 30-27 victory, but NIU finally put one away in game three. Walsh and Tera Lobdell (Plymouth, MN / Robbinsdale Armstrong) combined for a block on the first point of the game, and NIU never looked back. The Huskies built that lead to 11-4 and held the Gamecocks to just 11 kills as a team. Seven Lobdell kills spearheaded an aggressive attack, and Northern Illinois pulled out a strong 30-22 triumph.

"We had a chance to win those first couple games," Gooden added. "Finally, we kept the errors down and converted some points to take game three, but without a couple mistakes here and there, the match could have easily gone five games."

South Carolina turned the tables in game four, pulling out to a 7-3 lead and never trailing themselves. A Gamecock block at 19-14 ignited a six-point run that extended the lead to 25-14. USC coasted from their, closing out the match with a 30-21 victory. Lobdell paced the NIU attack with 25 kills and 17 digs. Walsh and Kate McCullagh (Woodstock) notched 13 successful swings apiece while each hitting better than .220. Walsh added four blocks on the defensive side of the ball while Guide led a pack of five Huskies that put up at least ten digs with 18.

NIU's nightcap against Duke wasn't as close, although things started out extremely well for the Huskies. Three Lobdell kills helped stake the visitors to a 6-1 lead to begin the match, but DU battled back immediately, scoring six of the next seven point to even things up at 7-7. After trading points to 12-12, the tourney hosts exploded for 13 of the game's next 16 points to take a commanding 25-15 lead and cruise to a 30-19 win.

Duke turned the tables in games two and three, racing out to 5-0 and 6-2 leads in the two contests, respectively. Northern Illinois never led again the rest of the night and hit just .111 for the match while the Blue Devils put up a .348 mark that included a .500 third game. Lobdell tried to stage a one-person assault, putting up 21 kills in a career-high 69 attempts. The senior's previous three-game high mark was 49 swings set just under two weeks ago versus Western Illinois. McCullagh chipped in with 10 put-aways of her own at a .296 clip.

"Kate played really well this weekend," Gooden added. "She is starting to take all of her natural athleticism and work to become a complete volleyball player. As a coaching staff, we're trying to accelerate her learning curve as much as possible, and we are seeing a lot of positive things in her game."

Northern Illinois has a full week to heal up and get ready for their next road venture. The Huskies return to action Friday (Sept. 17) when they travel to Cedar Falls, IA, for the University of Northern Iowa Invitational. Once again, NIU is scheduled to play three matches in two days starting with a 5:00 p.m. (CDT) tilt against South Florida.

-NIU- --Copy by Brian Kedzior

Match Notes:
---Tera Lobdell was the lone NIU representative on the Duke Invite's All-Tournament Team. The senior racked up at least 20 kills in each of her three matches, averaging 5.83 put-aways per game to go along with 3.25 digs and 0.58 blocks per contest.

---Setter Marie Zidek (Evergreen Park / Chicago Heights Marian Catholic) has notched at least 10 digs in six of seven matches this season including a three-game career best of 14 against Duke.

---Freshman Amy Ward (Sycamore) stepped in and put up two 10-plus dig performances Saturday (Sept. 11), tallying 11 "ups" in the opener against USC before notching 12 more against Duke.



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