Sept. 21, 2011
DeKALB, Ill. - Riding a three-match winning streak, the Northern Illinois volleyball team starts Mid-American Conference play this weekend as the Huskies (11-3) wrap up a four-match home stand. NIU will host Central Michigan (7-4) on Friday, Sept. 23, at 7:00 p.m. CT and Eastern Michigan (12-2) on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 7:00 p.m. at Victor E. Court.
How To Follow
Live stats via GameTracker and live streaming video through Huskie All-Access will be available for both matches on NIUHuskies.com.
Friday's CMU match will feature the "NIU Family Weekend" promotion. NIU students' family members will receive $1 admission with the NIU student's valid NIU OneCard.
Saturday's EMU match will feature several promotions. The "Football Ticket Stub Offer" will apply: fans will receive $1 admission with a ticket stub from the NIU-Cal Poly football game. There will be a "We Are Huskies" t-shirt giveaway while supplies last. Fans are encouraged to wear Huskie red to participate in a "Red Out." Saturday will also be "YMCA Night" as fans with a valid YMCA ID card will receive $1 admission (up to four people per ID). Additionally, the same "NIU Family Weekend" promotion will apply.
As with every home match this season, there will be a post-match autograph session for both matches.
Building Off Historic 2010 Campaign
NIU returns all but one player from last season's team that finished second at the Mid-American Conference tournament, tallying the most wins (27) since 1998 and best conference finish since 2001. The Huskies got off to a record 11-0 start to 2010 and ended the season ranked fifth in the country in wins, 29th in winning percentage (.771), 31st in hitting percentage (.256), 33rd in kills per set (14.01) and assists per set (13.07), and 38th in aces per set (1.52).
Individually, the Huskies had six MAC West Division Player of the Week selections, including Lauren Wicinski's school career record five in just her freshman season. Wicinski also became the first in league history to garner MAC Player and Freshman of the Year in the same season. Additionally, she became the second Huskie to earn AVCA Honorable Mention All-American recognition, and the first to do so as a rookie. Joining Wicinski on the All-American list was teammate Kristin Hoffman, who became the program's first ever ESPN/CoSIDA Academic Third Team All-American. Hoffman's classmate Allison McGlaughlin was also recognized on the ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-District 5 First Team. Wicinski and Hoffman were honored on the All-MAC First Team as well, while graduated libero Maddie Hughes was a Second Team selection.
Entering his 10th season as NIU head coach, Ray Gooden is coming off his most successful season. The program's second all-time wins leader owns a respectable 167-132 record at NIU, including a 99-89 mark in MAC play and an impressive 97-55 tally at home. Gooden is in the process of leaving an indelible mark on the program as the top three place holders in kills, kills per set, attack attempts and points all played under Gooden, as well as the top two holders in digs and digs per set.
Additionally, Gooden has coached 17 All-MAC, five MAC All-Freshman and two MAC Player of the Year selections, along with the only three All-Americans in program history. Four players have also reached the 1,000-kill plateau under Gooden: Tara Lobdell, Kate McCullagh (1,936 kills, second in MAC history), Meagan Schoenrock, and Allison McGlaughlin, who has another year to add to her total.
Starting Off On The Right Foot
For the fourth straight season, and ninth time in 10 tries under Gooden, the Huskies won their season opener. The triumph was a 3-1 decision over IUPUI on Aug. 26. The lone season in which NIU did not win its first match came in 2007, when the Huskies fell in five sets to Indiana at Victor E. Court. The Huskies are also 9-1 in home openers under Gooden.
With a 3-0 sweep at Green Bay Aug. 30, the Huskies won their third straight road opener, marking their 16th consecutive win against the Phoenix, who NIU is 19-1 against all-time.
Huskie Hold Their Own
The opening weekend's NIU Invitational featured three 2010 NCAA Tournament Teams that received votes in the 2011 AVCA Preseason Poll: Cincinnati (Received 22 votes), No. 18 Iowa State, and No. 14 Northern Iowa. The Huskies swept Cincinnati and hung tough with ISU and UNI, scoring under 20 points in only two of seven sets against the top 20 duo and claiming the first set against ISU, 25-21. NIU also held its opponents at the invite to a .253 attack percentage while the Huskies hit .280.
NIU Invitational All-Tournament
The sophomore duo of Sarah Angelos and Lauren Wicinski earned all-tournament honors at the NIU Invitational. Angelos totaled 30 kills and six blocks in the four matches, while Wicinski notched 76 kills, 45 digs, nine blocks and five aces.
Wiz Captures First MAC West Offensive Player of the Week Honor of 2011
Just like she did last season, Lauren Wicinski garnered the first Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week honor of the year, the league announced Aug. 30. The sophomore's sixth selection of her career extended her NIU school career record total.
NIU has outhit its opponents this season to the tune of .284-.226. The Huskies are 9-0 when they outhit their opponents and 2-3 when they do not. The two wins came at Green Bay (Aug. 30) and at Milwaukee (Sept. 6). The hitting edge has led to a 15.02-12.79 kills discrepancy for NIU.
Huskies Win Bluejay Invitational
On Sept. 2-3, the Huskies went 3-0 to claim the Bluejay Invitational title. NIU took down host Creighton 3-0, Marquette 3-1, and South Dakota 3-0. Lauren Wicinski took home tournament MVP and Kristin Hoffman was named to the all-tournament team as well. Wicinski totaled 49 kills, 31 digs and seven aces during the tournament, while Hoffman handed out 121 assists along with netting 19 digs and eight kills.
On Sept. 10, the Huskies wrapped up an eight-match, 12-day road swing with an impressive 7-1 record. The lone loss came to Texas A&M on the second-to-last match of the trip during Stephen F. Austin's Ladyjack Invitational. Lauren Wicinski (35 kills, nine digs, three aces, two blocks) and Kristin Hoffman (85 assists, 15 digs) were named to the all-tournament team for their outstanding efforts at SFA.
If NIU Was Not A Member Of The MAC
The Huskies would be off to great starts in the Horizon League and Big East, if they were members of either conference. With the non-conference schedule complete, despite a rematch with the Big East's Marquette on Nov. 26 at home, NIU is 3-0 against Horizon League foes and 3-0 versus Big East opponents. Among Horizon League wins, the Huskies have taken down Green Bay, Milwaukee and Illinois-Chicago without dropping a single set. In the Big East, the Huskies have topped Cincinnati, Marquette and South Florida, losing only one set to Marquette.
NIU Receives Votes In AVCA Top 25 For First Time Since 2001
For the first time since 2001, the Huskies received votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top 25 Poll, as voted on by the nation's coaches. NIU received six votes in the September 5th poll.
Despite a tough loss to Texas A&M on Sept. 10, the Huskies received four votes in the September 12th and September 19th polls to remain in the top 25 mix for three straight weeks. NIU's only three losses this season have been to No. 14 Northern Iowa, No. 16 Iowa State, and Texas A&M, who received 21 votes in the latest poll.
Leaders of the MAC
As of Sept. 19, the Huskies, who were the Mid-American Conference coaches' preseason pick to win the league, lead the MAC in kills (15.02/set) and assists (14.15/set). They also rank second in hitting percentage (.284) and third in aces (1.55/set) and digs (15.40/set).
Individually, Lauren Wicinski, the reigning MAC Freshman and Player of the Year, leads the league in kills (5.17set) and aces (0.63/set) and is 10th in hitting percentage (.313). Kristin Hoffman paces the MAC in assists (12.26/set). Sarah Angelos is sixth in the league in hitting percentage (.332). Allison McGlaughlin ranks 10th in digs (3.34/set).
Leading the Country
As of Sept. 19, NIU leads the NCAA in assists, ranks second in kills and 14th in hitting percentage. The Huskies also rank 51st in aces and 96th in digs.
Individually, Lauren Wicinski ranks second in kills and sixth in aces. Kristin Hoffman ranks third in assists.
The Chippewas carry a four-match winning streak into DeKalb and stand at 7-4 overall. They are coming off a first place finish at Marshall's Thunder Invitational, where they outhit their foes .256-.126. On the season, CMU holds edges over its opponents in kills (12.93-10.22), attack percentage (.202-.146) and digs (13.78-11.27). Marquette is a common opponent for CMU and NIU. The Huskies swept the Golden Eagles nearly a week after CMU was swept by Marquette.
NIU leads the all-time tilt over CMU 24-19. However, the Chippewas won the last meeting in five sets on Nov. 13, 2010, to end NIU's six-match home winning streak at the time.
The Eagles enter the weekend on a four-match winning streak as well and are off to a stellar 12-2 start. EMU's two losses have come at Notre Dame to open the season and against BYU at the Utah Invitational. Thus far, the Eagles have advantages over their opponents in kills (13.38-11.58), hitting percentage (.200-.155) and aces (1.40-0.54). Both NIU and EMU have played IUPUI this season and both won in four sets.
NIU holds a 26-17 advantage in the all-time series and has won six straight contests versus the Eagles. In the last matchup, the Huskies won in five sets on Nov. 19, 2010, to advance to the MAC semifinals during the conference tournament in Toledo, Ohio.
The Huskies hit the road for their first MAC road matches. NIU will face Ball State at 6:00 p.m. in Muncie, Ind., on Friday, Sept. 30. The Huskies will then trek to Toledo, Ohio, to face Toledo on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 4:00 p.m.