Huskie Volleyball uses efficiency, resolve to snap Loyola's eight-match winning streak with 3-0 win



September 21, 2004

WOMEN'S COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL--- Northern Illinois University at Loyola University-Chicago / at Chicago, IL / Victor E. Court / non-conference match / Tuesday / September 21, 2004

FINAL SCORE: NORTHERN ILLINOIS defeats LOYOLA-CHICAGO 3-0 (30-28, 30-28, 30-27)

Box Score

Huskie Volleyball uses efficiency, resolve to snap Loyola's eight-match winning streak with 3-0 win
CHICAGO, IL -Northern Illinois University hit .279 and accumulated just 15 attack errors as a team, and that clean play proved to be the difference as the Huskies snapped Loyola University-Chicago's eight-match winning streak in a tight 3-0 (30-28, 30-28, 30-27) women's volleyball match at LUC's Gentile Center Tuesday (Sept. 21).

NIU used a two-pronged attack to bury the Ramblers on offense as Kate McCullagh (Woodstock) and Tera Lobdell (Plymouth, MN / Robbinsdale Armstrong) led the way with 17 and 16 kills, respectively. Lobdell attacked the net at a .317 (16 kills-3 errors-41 attempts) clip and also added a team-high 14 digs to the cause to help the Huskies move to 4-8 overall on the season. Loyola falls to 8-4 for the year and suffers its first lost since a 3-0 setback to Oral Roberts on Sept. 4.

The Huskies got off to a good start, winning a tense back-and-forth battle in game one 30-28. McCullagh led the way, racking up eight kills in the first stanza including the game-winner. NIU hit .386 as a team and battled back from a three-point deficit as late as 24-21 to put itself in a position to take the game. Keeping errors down was paramount in a game that saw 14 ties and seven lead changes, and the Huskies accumulated just four attack errors. Every player in the lineup put a positive number in the hitting percentage column.

NIU had to fight from behind again from the first point in game two, falling behind by as many as four before storming back and taking its first lead of the contest on an LUC attack error at 18-17. That lead didn't even last a single point as the Ramblers responded by scoring five of the next six points to regain a 22-19 advantage. Once again, however, the Huskies showed a resilient streak, using two Loyola errors, a Corinne Walsh (Evergreen Park) block, and a Lobdell kill to jump back up 25-23.

That lead swelled as big as five at 29-24, but LUC fought off four game points to close the gap back down to 29-28. Katie Prechel's run finally came to an end, however, as the Rambler senior sent her next serve into the net to give Northern Illinois a nail-biting 30-28 win.

"We talked on Monday about finishing games," Huskie head coach Ray Gooden noted. "We have been putting ourselves in spots to win games, but just haven't finished them. It was apparent that we needed to work on that, and tonight, we did a much better job."

Game three was just as tight as its two predecessors with the two squads deadlocking 10 times and watching the lead exchange hands four times. NIU put the first serious run together, breaking a 17-17 tie with five straight points---four of which came off Rambler errors---to grab a 22-17 advantage. Another Lobdell kill pushed the lead to seven at 26-19, but Loyola had one last surge left.

Lobdell notched a service ace to make the score 29-23 before LUC brought Sarah Elmer off the bench for her first action of the entire night. All Elmer did was use solid serving to help the Ramblers score three consecutive points and pull to within 29-27. Once again, however, the Huskies sealed the game without having to play the ball as Elmer's last serve sailed deep, and NIU had the match.

Setter Marie Zidek (Evergreen Park / Chicago Heights Marian Catholic) set the table for the strong NIU offensive performance, racking up 40 assists to go with 13 digs. Five Huskies combined for 8.5 total blocks on the defensive side including five by Walsh and three more by senior Megan Markowski (Glen Ellyn / Wheaton St. Francis)---seeing her first full-time action since Northern Illinois' five-game loss to Towson back on Sept. 10.

"Megan's forte is blocking," Gooden explained. "She did a good job of blocking and getting some good touches on their best attackers. That allowed Tera (Lobdell) and Kate (McCullagh) to become even more versatile at the net with not only their attacks, but their blocks as well."

Northern Illinois starts from scratch Friday as 13 teams enter Mid-American Conference play with 0-0 records. NIU heads to Eastern Michigan University for a 7:00 p.m. (EDT) match Friday (Sept. 24) to start its league slate before taking on Bowling Green State University at 7:00 p.m. (EDT) Saturday (Sept. 25).


Match Notes:
---Head coach Ray Gooden spent five years as an assistant at Loyola before taking over as the head man in DeKalb. Since taking over the Huskie program, Gooden is 2-1 against his former team including a 3-1 win at Victor E. Court on Sept. 30, 2003.

---NIU posted its second-highest hitting percentage of the season against Loyola. Tuesday's (Sept. 21) .279 effort trails only the .302 the Huskies put up against Illinois-Chicago back on Sept. 7.

---With 16 kills versus the Ramblers Tera Lobdell inched closer to breaking the all-time Northern Illinois career kills record. The senior now sits just 39 successful swings from becoming NIU's new all-time kills leader. Amber Howard is the current record holder with 1,484 put-aways from 1995-98.