Sept. 24, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - With the non-conference schedule in the rear view mirror, the Northern Illinois volleyball team will begin its Mid-American Conference slate this weekend with a road trip to Ball State (7-6) for a 6 p.m. CT Friday match and trip to Toledo (9-3) for a 6 p.m. Saturday match.
"It was nice to end our non-conference schedule on a positive note, but now we are heading to the next phase, which is what we have been preparing for all season - the conference schedule," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "Any match we are going to have in conference is going to be difficult. Going to ball state and Toledo just makes it that much more of a challenge."
The Huskies (6-7) will look to keep the momentum gained after Tuesday's 3-1 win over DePaul as neither Ball State nor Toledo had a midweek match this week. In order to do that, NIU will hope to see sophomore Allison McGlaughlin (Morton, Ill./Morton) keep up her recent performance surge as she has led the Huskies in kills in each of the last five matches, posting three double-doubles during that stretch, with an average of 4.61 kills and 3.11 digs per set. She also leads the Huskies in overall kills and aces this year with 172 kills (3.82/set) and 31 aces (0.20/set), while she ranks second in digs with 114 (2.53/set).
Additionally, NIU will look to three of its four seniors to contribute at the net as well. Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio/Northview) is second on the squad in kills with 145 (3.22/set). Cassie Yates (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) is third on the team in kills with 117 (2.60/set) and leads the team in hitting percentage (.323) and blocks with 39 (0.87/set). Amanda Tadla (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn) runs the offense and has a total of 401 assists (10.55/set).
On the defensive end, the Huskies are led by junior Maddie Hughes
(St. Charles, Ill./North) and senior Monica Lang
(Chicago, Ill./Marist). Hughes leads NIU with 207 digs (4.60/set) and has tallied 20 or more digs in three straight matches. Lang ranks third on the team in digs with 90 (2.09/set) and has had double-figure digs in back-to-back matches.
Ball State enters the match against NIU after sweeping Towson on the road on September 19. The Cardinals are led on offense by Alisha Green, who has 126 kills (3.15/set). Brittany McGinnis runs the offense with 368 assists (8.98/set), while Christie Waters captains the defense with 141 digs (3.28/set).
NIU leads the all-time series versus Ball State 25-22 and has won the last three matchups in Muncie, Ind., including last year's 3-1 decision.
"Ball State has a solid core or players that returned along with some key additions," said Gooden. "We know they will be fast and physical."
Toledo comes into its match against NIU after losing its first three matches of the year at the Saint Louis Billiken Invitational last weekend. Before losing matches to UC-Davis, Saint Louis and SIU Edwardsville, the Rockets started the year with nine straight victories. Toledo is led by Amber DeWeerdt and Sondra Parys on offense as DeWeerdt leads the team with 174 kills (3.87/set) and Parys ranks second with 123 (3.51/set). Kassie Kadera anchors the offense with 506 assists (11.24/set), while Jessica Dhoore leads the defense with 161 (3.58/set).
The Huskies lead the all-time series against the Rockets 26-7 and have won the last four matchups, most recently winning in Toledo, Ohio last season, 3-1.
"Toledo came into this year with a brand new coach, facility and a lot of new players that are really focused on the future, not the past," Gooden said. "They have a new level of energy and their record shows that."
Both matches will have live stats available on ballstatesports.com and utrockets.com, respectively.