Sept. 11, 2013
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DeKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois volleyball team goes on their first road trip of the season this weekend when they travel to Las Cruces, N.M., for the NM State Tournament.
NIU’s first match is scheduled for Friday 1:30 p.m. CT when the Huskies take on UALR. They return to the court later on Friday at 6 p.m. to face Southern Utah, then wrap things up Saturday afternoon against host New Mexico State.
“Our group will look to make improvements from our last two weekends,” said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden. “We will be playing three physical teams and all have played against solid competition. We know that consistency will be our key to success and we are excited for the challenge.”
The Huskies head to the Land of Enchantment after they finished their season-opening seven-match homestand Saturday against #3 USC, now the nation’s new #1 team in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll, and Belmont. In the afternoon contest against the Trojans, NIU fell to the Trojans, 3-1, but notched 52 kills and 61 points – both the most allowed by USC this year. NIU capped the day with a 3-1 win over Belmont in which the Huskies scored on a season-high nine service aces.
During the nightcap against Belmont, senior Sarah Angelos became the 20th Huskie in program history to record 1,000 kills in her career.
This weekend, NIU will play their first matches ever in the state of New Mexico. Similarly, Friday’s contests against UALR and SUU will be the first time the Huskies face either program on the court. Northern has only one previous meeting against NMSU, as the Aggies defeated the Huskies, 3-1, at last year’s NIU Invitational.
UALR, also known as Arkansas-Little Rock, boasts a 2-4 record entering the weekend. The Trojans went 1-2 at last weekend’s Rice Invitational with a win against the host Owls sandwiched between losses to LSU and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. In the opening weekend, UALR went 1-2 at Mississippi State’s Maroon Classic. Bosnia & Herzegovina natives Edina Begic and Sonja Milanovic headline to Trojan offense with 5.04 and 3.96 kills/set, respectively. Additionally, Adisa Hodzic leads the team with 1.08 blocks/set and Allison Wyatt is second on the team with 58 digs, trailing only Begic’s 67.
Scouting Southern Utah
Southern Utah currently sports a 1-5 record on the year. This past weekend at the Nebraska Omaha Volleyball Classic, the Thunderbirds got their first victory of the season with a 3-2 win against the host Mavericks after falling to SIU Edwardsville and Bradley the day prior. SUU’s other losses came against Georgia Southern, South Alabama and Tennessee State. Senior Kylie Schofield leads the Thunderbird offense with 3.14 kills/set, while Lusia Angilau paces SUU with a .274 attack percentage and 1.12 blocks/set.
Scouting New Mexico State
New Mexico State, the host for this weekend’s tournament, owns a 1-5 mark through the first two weeks of the season. That record, though, is quite deceiving, as the Aggies have dropped matches to West Coast powerhouses Hawaii, UCLA, Santa Clara, California and UC Santa Barbara. Meanwhile, NMSU’s lone win this season was a 3-0 sweep of Nevada. Lauren Loerch leads the Aggie offense with 2.52 kills/set, while Desiree Scott leads the front line with a .333 attack percentage. On defense, Stephanie Ziegler paces NMSU with 2.90 digs/set. In the only previous meeting between the two schools, the Aggies defeated the Huskies, 3-1.
Angelos Scores 1,000th Kill
Senior middle blocker Sarah Angelos put her name into the NIU record books once again Saturday night against Belmont by scoring her 1,000th career kill. The Waukegan, Ill., native becomes the 20th player in program history to reach that mark. Additionally, Angelos still sits second in program history with a .331 hitting percentage, trailing only NIU Athletics Hall of Famer Cathy Holmes (.339).
Leading the Pack
NIU seniors Sarah Angelos and Justine Schepler both rank among the NCAA’s active career statistical leaders. Currently, Angelos is second in the nation in sets played (422), tied for ninth in matches played (113), 24th in hitting percentage (.332) and 40th in kills (1,003), while ranking first in the MAC all categories but kills. Meanwhile, Schepler is tied for 11th nationally and second in the conference in matches played with 112.
Friday’s matches against UALR and Southern Utah will be unique in two ways. First, both contests will be the first ever meeting for the Huskies against the Trojans and Thunderbirds. Second, the matches will be the first ones NIU has played in program history within the state of New Mexico. In fact, it will be only the third time - 2007 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and 2011 at Stephen F. Austin - that NIU has played at a tournament in the American Southwest.
A View to a Kill
This year, the NIU offensive attack has become more diverse, as five different Huskies average at least one kill per set. Leading the way are junior Mackenzie Roddy and senior Sarah Angelos with 3.10 and 2.77 kills/set, respectively. Yet, NIU has also been getting solid contributions from Mary Grace Kelly (2.31 kills/set), Jenna Radtke (1.77) and Lauren Zielinski (1.32).
Returning the Favor
Through seven matches and 30 sets played, the Huskies have been solid in serve receiving. Going into this weekend, NIU has a .951 reception percentage and his holding opponents to less than one ace per set. The Huskies have held four opponents to one ace/set or less this year, including limiting USC - a team that averaged 2.1 aces/set entering the contest - to four over four sets.
In his 12th season as NIU head coach, Ray Gooden is now the longest-tenured coach in NIU Volleyball history. A three-time MAC Coach of the Year, Gooden has led the Huskies to three consecutive 20-win seasons and has guided the team to the last three MAC Tournament title matches. The program’s second all-time wins leader owns a respectable 208-152 record at NIU, including a 102-77 mark in MAC play and an impressive 124-60 tally at home. Additionally, Gooden has coached 25 All-MAC, 19 Academic All-MAC, six MAC All-Freshman and five MAC Player of the Year selections, along with the only seven All-American selections in program history. Five players have also reached the 1,000-kill plateau under Gooden.
Northern Illinois comes back to DeKalb Tuesday to face Northern Iowa. The contest between NIU and UNI is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. inside Victor E. Court.
The Last Meeting
|New Mexico State||3
August 25, 2012
Huskies Fall 3-1 to New Mexico State to Wrap the NIU Invitational
Nearly two hours after enduring a grueling five-set loss to Wichita State, the Northern Illinois volleyball team gave it all they had but simply ran out of gas on Saturday evening at Victor E. Court against a stout New Mexico State team that has been to the NCAA Tournament five times since 2003.