Northern Illinois Readies for Huskie Invitational

GO HUSKIES Paige Dacanay and the Huskies take on George Washington, IPFW and Oakland this weekend
Paige Dacanay and the Huskies take on George Washington, IPFW and Oakland this weekend

Sept. 19, 2013

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DeKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois volleyball team caps off their non-conference schedule this weekend inside Victor E. Court when they host the Huskie Invitational.
The Huskies will face George Washington, IPFW and Oakland in the tournament. Additionally, Western Illinois will be a part of the tournament, but will not play NIU since the two sides met previously on Sept. 4.
“This is our final challenge before the conference season,” said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden. “All four teams are very similar. Each of us is looking to get on the right track going into conference play, so we’re all going to do our best to have the best output of the season thus far.”
The Huskies are 5-6 on the year after falling Tuesday to Northern Iowa, 3-0, inside Victor E. Court. Despite 12 kills from Mackenzie Roddy and three service aces, NIU was swept for the first time at home since Oct. 4, 2012, against Western Michigan.
This weekend, Northern takes on three strong programs in GW, IPFW and OU. All time, the Huskies are 2-0 against Oakland, having defeated the Golden Grizzlies in 2005 and 2010. Meanwhile, NIU and George Washington will match up for the first time since 1992, when the Huskies topped the Colonials in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. Friday will also mark the second meeting against IPFW, as the Mastodons topped the Huskies in 2006.
Scouting George Washington
George Washington comes to DeKalb sporting a 4-6 record on the year, including wins against Stephen F. Austin and UMBC. Additionally, the Colonials have taken losses to Top 100 RPI teams in North Carolina, Maryland and Ole Miss. GW boasts four players with 2.00 kills/set or more, including freshman Loren Williams (2.50 kills/set), junior Kelsey Newman (2.35) and senior Rachael Goss (2.32). Defensively, the Colonials feature Chidima Osuchukwu (1.08 blocks/set) and libero Maddy Doyle (5.11 digs/set).
Scouting IPFW
IPFW maintains a 6-6 record on the season coming into this weekend’s tournament. The Mastodons, who won the Summit League title last season, have one Top 100 RPI win to their credit this year, as they swept Western Michigan, 3-0, on Sept. 10 in Kalamazoo. Meanwhile, five of their six losses have come to Top 100 teams, including then-#15 Michigan State last weekend. The IPFW offense is led by junior Emily Spencer, who ranks 27th in the nation in points/set (4.78) and 34th in kills/set (4.11). Among active career leaders, Spencer is third in attempts/set (11.81) and fourth in kills/set (4.03). The Mastodon defense is headlined by Natasha Medic (1.22 blocks/set) and Jen Milligan (3.78 digs/set).
Scouting Oakland
Oakland sits at 5-6 heading into the Huskie Invitational. After spending the past 15 seasons in the Summit League, the Golden Grizzlies started their inaugural campaign in the Horizon League this year with wins against Central Michigan, Rutgers, Syracuse and Stony Brook, but have since dropped three of their past four matches. Cassie Pelloni highlights the OU offense with 3.23 kills/set, while Taylor Humm is second on the team with 2.85 kills/set. Defensively, the Golden Grizzlies’ Amanda Baker ranks fifth in the Horizon League and 142nd nationally with 1.08 blocks/set and Taylor Humm maintains a 3.59 digs/set average.
Feast or Famine
Through 11 matches this year, the second set has truly been a microcosm of the Huskies’ season thus far. NIU is 5-0 when winning the second set, but 0-6 when they lose in the second. Additionally, the Huskies have hit .274 in the second sets of matches they have won, while only averaging .089 in second set losses.
Making Connections
Saturday morning’s NIU-Oakland match will feature plenty of high school connections. Most notable among those is between Huskie freshman Paige Dacanay and Golden Grizzly junior Taylor Humm, who were both teammates at Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, Ill. Additionally, NIU’s Mackenzie Roddy (San Bernardino) and OU’s Allia Knight (Ventura) both hail from the Los Angeles area. Combined, the two teams have 13 players from the Chicagoland area.
Schepler Gets All-Tournament Team Nod
Senior Justine Schepler was named to the all-tournament team at this past weekend’s NM State Tournament. The Sycamore, Ill., native collected 61 digs in the three matches, including a career-high 25 against Southern Utah.
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 (434), tied for 10th in matches played (116), 26th in hitting percentage (.325) and 41st in kills (1,033), while ranking first in the MAC in all categories but kills. Meanwhile, Schepler is tied for 14th nationally and second in the conference in matches played with 115.
Can You Dig It?
In their contest against Southern Utah on Sept. 13, the Huskies totaled 93 digs in a 3-2 win against the Thunderbirds. That mark is the most NIU has had in a single match since Oct. 28, 2011, when they compiled 101 against Eastern Michigan. The school record for most digs in a single match by the Huskies is 129, which occurred Nov. 4, 1994, against Butler.
Returning the Favor
Through 11 matches and 45 sets played, the Huskies have been solid in serve receiving. NIU has a .956 reception percentage and is holding opponents to less than one ace per set. The Huskies have held seven 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 and shutting out Northern Iowa.
Gooden Plenty
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 210-157 record at NIU, including a 102-77 mark in MAC play and an impressive 125-62 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. Six players have also reached the 1,000-kill plateau under Gooden.
Up Next...
Northern Illinois begins conference action Thursday, Sept. 26, when they travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., to face Western Michigan. Two days later, the Huskies face Bowling Green in a 2012 MAC Championship rematch.

The Last Meeting
Northern Illinois3
August 27, 2010
DeKalb, Ill.
Huskies Open Season With Pair of Wins
The Northern Illinois volleyball team began its 2010 campaign with two stellar wins Friday at home on Victor E. Court in Day One of the NIU Invitational. The Huskies (2-0) took down Chicago State (0-2) in three sets to begin the day and ended it with a four-set victory over Oakland (0-2).



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